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What is an IDP and can a PaaS be the solution?

15 March 2024
Vincenzo Russo
Vincenzo Russo
OEM Business and Technical Development Manager

Imagine a world where developers can focus on their code, not the complexities of infrastructure—that's the power of an Internal Developer Platform (IDP). IDPs are transforming software development, boosting efficiency, and unleashing developer creativity. And the best part is—you don’t need to build your own.

Ok, but what’s an IDP?

An IDP is a single system that integrates various technologies and tools, enabling a streamlined workflow that enhances developer productivity and simplifies complex processes. IDPs are understood easiest through their three key components:

  • Internal: the platform is designed for use within an organization. It's crafted by platform engineering teams to specifically cater to the unique workflow needs and technological environments of their internal development teams.
  • Developer: the primary users of the platform are software development teams. The IDP is geared towards facilitating their work, enabling self-service, and reducing the mental overhead involved in handling complex technology stacks.
  • Platform: it serves as a comprehensive foundation integrating various technologies and tools. This platform is treated as a product by the engineering teams, who develop and maintain it based on user research and feedback, ensuring its continuous evolution and alignment with developer needs.

The rise of IDPs

The rise of IDPs marks a pivotal moment in software development. As the complexities and demands of building and deploying software escalate, IDPs are becoming increasingly essential for streamlining processes and enhancing productivity within development teams. Let's delve into the reasons behind this growing trend and the advantages IDPs bring to the table:

1. Handling complexity and cognitive load: in software engineering, the need to manage architecture, abstractions, and implementation details can place a heavy cognitive load on team members. IDPs help compartmentalize this complexity, allowing developers to focus on what's critical to their role, without being bogged down by the intricacies of the entire system.

2. Providing necessary abstractions: IDPs serve as the bridge connecting multidisciplinary teams working on the same project. They effectively make infrastructure an implementation detail for developers, allowing them to remain focused on their core development tasks. Conversely, for operations teams, the software running on that infrastructure becomes an implementation detail, streamlining their workflow as platform engineering teams don’t have to cater to application-specific needs. This mutual abstraction promotes a more efficient working environment courtesy of this agnostic approach.

3. Key benefits and impacts for organizations: improvements in infrastructure and IT management, increased productivity due to reduced communication times between development and infrastructure teams, and granular user management—see collaboration below—in larger organizations are some of the key benefits of IDPs. Key reported impacts include a marked increase in development velocity, improved productivity, system reliability, and enhanced security.

4. Key features of IDPs: IDPs integrate seamlessly with existing tools and services, including source control systems, CI/CD pipelines, and monitoring tools. This integration enables effective application and infrastructure management, automated deployment processes, and management of multiple environments. Moreover, they offer developer self-service capabilities, empowering developers to access tools and resources on demand, which facilitates faster development cycles and reduces dependency on operations teams.

5. Collaboration and governance: IDPs enhance security and compliance by providing role-based access controls (RBAC), ensuring appropriate permissions for team members, and minimizing risks. They also support collaboration among cross-functional teams and maintain transparency and accountability throughout the development process, which is vital for issue resolution and compliance with regulatory requirements.

The rise of IDPs is a response to the growing challenges in software development, driven by the complexity of modern software architectures and the need for more efficient DevOps practices. IDPs offer a comprehensive solution that caters to the needs of both developers and platform teams, fostering a collaborative environment that enhances productivity, security, and compliance. As digital transformation continues to reshape the business landscape, the role of IDPs in enabling agile and responsive software development becomes increasingly vital.

Upsun as an IDP

Upsun, powered by, builds off a decade of expertise to deliver a single, fully managed, self-service PaaS empowering development teams to securely and easily experiment, quickly iterate, and confidently deploy applications at scale.

If we revisit the five factors mentioned above, they closely match the reasons for Upsun’s creation, and highlight Upsun as a strong IDP solution:

1. Handling complexity and cognitive load: Upsun reduces complexity in deployments, aligning with IDPs' goal to manage complexities and reduce cognitive load. Its self-service capability allows developers to focus on development rather than infrastructure management.

2. Providing necessary abstractions: the ability to clone production environments provides necessary abstractions, once again enabling developers to focus on coding rather than underlying infrastructure, mirroring IDPs' purpose.

3. Key benefits and impacts for organizations: Upsun’s self-service capabilities reduce communication between developers and platform teams to virtually zero. Its built-in security and compliance, its reliability, and its collaboration features complete the overall benefits brought to an organization.

4. Key features of IDPs: Upsun has all the features expected from an IDP and more, including self-service production environments, built-in CI/CD, monitoring tools, and more. Not to mention the ability to integrate with external services that provide and/or extend the same functionality.

5. Collaboration and governance: once again, Upsun’s security and compliance fulfills a wide range of requirements often desired within an IDP. Our PaaS also provides advanced user management and collaboration enabling cross-functional teams to work easily on the same project with Upsun.

The additional benefits of Upsun—explicit resource allocation, usage-based pricing model, and a comprehensive observability suite—included by default in all projects, amongst many other things, then help to complete the picture for a stellar IDP solution.

A decade of IDP pioneering

The pain points that thousands of development teams experience today were experienced by our founders over 10 years ago, and led them to set out to solve them with our original core PaaS product,, and now with Upsun.

What and Upsun do for many development teams and agencies around the world is solve the very same problems an IDP sets out to solve—just without the hassle of strategizing, planning, building, and maintaining an entire IDP.

By design, an IDP provides environments and tools for software development and deployment, which is exactly what Upsun provides. The main difference lies in their focus and scope. An IDP primarily—even solely—caters to internal development and is not preoccupied with providing enterprise-ready production hosting. Upsun, instead, fulfills all the requirements of an IDP but it goes further by including production hosting in a single, unified solution.

The flexible, expert design of our product means that it can serve both purposes with ease. In fact, in many instances, organizations will recognize the value of two products in one and will realize that they will be able to streamline their processes even further. They will not need to preoccupy themselves with deploying production-ready artifacts to a whole different set of servers and platforms, using different pipelines and processes, but they could leverage the same platform used by their internal development team to ship their feature to production with the click of a button.

Upsun, a powerful IDP solution

IDPs are reshaping software development, empowering organizations to tackle complexity, boost developer productivity, and deliver innovation at speed. Upsun embodies these ideals, acting as a powerful IDP solution that also offers seamless production hosting capabilities. Its comprehensive set of features and focus on streamlining the entire development lifecycle uniquely positions Upsun to support organizations on their digital transformation journey.

The advantages of IDPs and platforms like Upsun are clear. If you're seeking to optimize your software development processes, supercharge efficiency, and elevate developer satisfaction, it's time to explore the world of Internal Developer Platforms.

Discover the transformative potential of Upsun firsthand—start your free trial today.

Stay tuned

In the next installment of this series, we’ll be exploring how to overcome operational challenges with IDPs and Upsun! Stay tuned.

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