Building software is complex. Engineering teams face immense pressure to churn out quality code at breakneck speeds while ensuring legacy systems don't break. Many companies now rely on Internal Developer Platforms (IDPs)—inhouse built toolchains that help developers deliver faster to stay ahead of the curve.
But that leads to a critical question: Should you build your IDP from scratch or buy one off-the-shelf? This is a common dilemma facing engineering leaders, and the decision carries significant implications for developer productivity, costs, and more.
This article will help you decide whether to build or buy an IDP. We'll look at companies that started with homegrown IDPs and eventually switched to a third-party IDP and how that shift impacted business.
An internal developer platform (IDP) is a customized system created in-house or by a third party to improve efficiency for an organization’s Dev and Ops teams. IDPs provide a central interface where developers can access all the tools and services they need for coding, building, testing, and deploying applications.
They aim to remove friction during deployment by standardizing tools and best practices. This standardized approach allows developers to focus on writing code rather than configuring tooling and processes.
At their core, IDPs enable engineers to build, test, integrate, and deploy applications faster and with higher quality.
Developers use many different tools to build and deploy software. This can make operations complicated and disjointed. There are isolated systems that don't connect well, and IDPs solve this by linking together essential tools like:
But what are the benefits of implementing an IDP in your Dev workflows?
Engineering teams can realize several advantages with an IDP. Here are some of the major ones:
As software complexity increases in modern technology stacks, IDPs have become indispensable infrastructure for high-performing engineering organizations. With a robust IDP, companies can accelerate innovation and maintain a competitive advantage.
But when it comes to IDPs, you’re met with two choices—spending resources and developer time to build an IDP or buying an IDP that allows similar flexibility. Let’s look at a quick comparison.
Let’s dive deeper into the debate and see if it makes more sense for you to build your IDP or buy one that integrates with your toolchain.
Going custom with your Internal Developer Platform is like designing your dream house - you get the creative freedom to build something tailored to your team's needs. I can see why that appeals to some teams!
Advantages of the build approach:
However, building a custom Internal Developer Platform is more complex than throwing features together.
Disadvantages of the build approach:
Building a custom Internal Developer Platform can be a compelling approach for the right team with advanced needs and resources to invest. But take into account the commitment and complexity involved.
Buying an off-the-shelf Internal Developer Platform (IDP) is like moving into a fully furnished home, ready to go. You skip the headache of building everything yourself from the ground up.
There are some convincing reasons why getting a ready-made IDP could be the way for your organization:
Going the buy route isn't without some potential downsides to consider:
Let's look at real-world examples to see the build vs. buy decision and its impact on business. These case studies are from companies that have implemented IDPs and provide tangible lessons on the pros and cons of each approach.
Treebo Hotels built its custom platform at first. But soon, the company faced challenges maintaining and managing multiple environments. That’s when they decided to buy an IDP.
They picked Facets—a self-hosted, self-serve IDP that simplified their manual processes with logging, monitoring, and alerting workflows. With this change, Treebo could onboard developers faster, with dedicated resources spun up automatically, thus saving hours of wasted resources and improving dev productivity.
Another example is from the gaming industry, which is highly code-heavy and has many disparate processes—including code, graphics, design, modeling, and more. There are multiple layers of complexities involved.
When GGX decided to migrate its cloud solution from AWS to Google Cloud, it faced many issues arising from these complexities. Due to this, they expected the migration to be completed in 3 months. Running sandbox environments for external game developers was also tough using the homegrown tools.
That’s when they decided to try a third-party IDP. Facets accelerated GGX's cloud migration from three months to just two weeks!
It also smoothened release management for faster deployments. With drift-free sandboxes and 100% automation, GGX achieved a faster setup with minimal effort and resource wastage.
It feels safe to stick to what works. Your team may side with building a custom IDP to fit their workflows and process requirements.
But it isn’t about the technology itself—it's the productivity and innovation an IDP enables for your developers. You need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of building vs. buying an IDP that fits your needs.
An effective IDP helps create the best environment for your engineers and adds value to the organization. It enhances their experience, not hinders it.
If building one from scratch works for your team, take that idea for a spin. And if you’re considering buying an IDP, try Facets—an off-the-shelf IDP purpose-built for engineering teams. It is built by experts in developer-centric design, making Facets the one third-party IDP that balances extensibility and configurability while providing you complete peace of mind regarding updates and security.
Want to see how Facets can help optimize your existing dev workflows? Book a 1:1 demo today.
Let us know if you have any additional queries, we'll get back to you soon.
Tell us your queries and we’ll get back to you
Prefer email? Reach out to us at email@example.com