Product Management for Infrastructure Platforms

Platform Engineering Books

Around 2 years ago I decided to switch from working with Consumer Product props to working on Infrastructure Products. What did I learn?…

✅ I’m lucky to work with great teams that have taught me loads. 🧠 I’ve also read a few books, watched hundreds of hours of videos and talks on lots of new topics.

So let’s summarise.

Consumer Product vs Platform Engineering Products:

💡They’re the same thing at the core. People buy products to get jobs done. Only the context and domains differ. The fundemental practices hold true whether your customer is internal or external or indeed non-human. Start with the customer.

💡Having passionate people in your teams with cross disciplinary skills; architects engineers and product people that constructively challenge one another, use insights, test and learn is essential. It’s hard being right a lot and doing it as a team is the best way to increase your chances.

💡Like many intelligent, motivated humans: engineers like to build things. But sometimes it’s better to kill good ideas. It’s easy for teams to get carried away on a technical vision that’s not underpinned by a true value proposition. Discipline and rigour is just as valid.

💡The fundamentals of good Product methodologies hold true whether you’re building product and process for consumers or software engineers. Developer Experience is just the same as User Experience.

💡Measuring things that matter is just as critical if not more so. Doesn’t matter if it’s cycle time, Dora metrics, coverage – measure as much as you feasibly can.

💡Big Vendors have huge influence in infra and ops. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s incredibly hard for small companies to break into that and giants like AWS, Google and Microsoft still rule the ☁️ It’s important to remember that vendors business models influence their advice. (with good intentions, but they’re running a business too). So balance it with your own teams thoughts and opinions.

💡Success stories like Wiz prove that new companies can emerge and challenge the big ones (founded 2020 now worth $12b)

💡HashiCorp have impressed me from the start in describing the real world that many teams and orgs find themselves. (Not surprised they got acquired by IBM!)

💡AI is genuinely iteratively enabling development teams, and I wish there was less hype and more practical modest examples that were shouted about.

💡The market for IDPs (dev portals) still seems shallow and ripe for growth. Backstage from Spotify being a lead.

💡Mindset makes a huge difference to the adoption of anything, just as in consumer product world. Conways Law is just as valid in Infra Product as it is in any consumer product business.

💡Time and cost are the true measures in business, proxies through productivity, happiness and other qualitative measures – but ultimately they’re the fundamentals.

There’s huge opportunities in “Platform as a Product”. Valuations of new firms like Wiz prove that -> by building great products their customers want.


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