The Kubernetes Current Blog

Introducing the Rafay Plugins For Backstage to Enable Developer Self-Service Through One-Click Kubernetes Cluster, Namespace, and Environment Provisioning

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Rafay Plugins for Backstage, which will be generally available in the 2nd half of this year. For those who are unfamiliar with Backstage, it is an open source project by Spotify that enables platform engineering teams to build out internal developer portals (IDPs) as a means to enable developer self-service and significantly reduce cognitive load and burden that developers face today. The growth of Backstage has been incredible to witness and it’s been amazing to see the growth and adoption in the platform engineering community.

Developer self-service for Kubernetes still remains a challenge. According to the “Understanding Environment Provisioning for Application Development and Deployment” survey, 94% of platform teams and 89% of application developers believe it would be valuable to have a self-service workflow or portal where developers can provision Kubernetes infrastructure, such as a cluster or namespace, themselves. However, because of a lack of governance capabilities and regulatory/compliance issues that large organizations have to satisfy, developer self-service, especially for workflows such as a cluster-as-a-service or namespace-as-a-service remain a pipe dream.

However, not to fear – the Rafay backstage plugins make these dreams a reality by combining the best of Rafay’s governance and automation capabilities from the Rafay Kubernetes Operations Platform with the developer self-service capabilities in Backstage. Using Rafay’s governance capabilities, platform teams can define governance policies around how clusters should be deployed, or namespaces should be provisioned and then supply developer self-service workflows that standardize around those rules and golden path. See image below. This accelerates the developer journey in provisioning resources and deploying apps to those Kubernetes resources while also speeding up the IDP innovation journey around Kubernetes for platform engineering teams as well.

How do the Rafay plugins for Backstage work?

First, platform engineering teams set up Backstage and custom tailor it according to their needs. In fact, you can easily set up Backstage through the Rafay platform and add additional layers of governance and automation ( Next, after installing the Rafay plugin for Backstage in your Backstage instance, platform teams simply use an API key to have the Rafay Kubernetes Operations Platform connect to Backstage. From there, platform engineering teams can use the out of the box templates for cluster as a service, namespace as a service, etc. or create their own allowing platform engineering teams to custom tailor the developer experience and provide standardized paths around deploying Kubernetes infra and leveraging Kubernetes based on their organizational needs.

Once the workflows are defined by platform engineering teams, developers then have a seamless experience of being able to deploy the appropriate Kubernetes infrastructure based on their needs.

Key Features of Rafay’s Backstage Plugins

One Click Kubernetes Infra Provisioning: As shown below, Platform teams can provide a seamless, one-click interface in Backstage for developers to deploy individual namespaces or clusters (called namespace as a service, cluster as a service) based on their application needs. The plugin also gives developers observability into their Kubernetes-based environments in Backstage.

Custom Tailored Dev Environments: Once a developer provisions their environment, they get access to an entity card in Backstage where they are able to view health for their Kubernetes environment (namespace, cluster, etc.) and even download a Kubeconfig that is secure and grants access only to their specific environments as shown here:

Golden Path Workflows: With Rafay, platform teams can curate which parameters they want to expose and how. This sets enterprise guardrails, simplifies the experience and reduces the cognitive load for developers.

API Extensibility: Another key feature of the Rafay Backstage Plugins is the ability to build a self-service workflow around any functionality that Rafay has to offer, including creating GitOps pipelines or cost management dashboards, surfacing policy violations and more.

We are helping many enterprises accelerate their Backstage-driven projects by giving them immediate access to Kubernetes self-service functionality. Stay tuned for more Backstage related announcements!


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