Old cynic me says there’s a “spike in interest” basically because there’s an entire industrial complex that makes its money on buzzwords, clicks, speaking engagements, etc. Like @Asaf Erlich
says, it’s the same problems people have been solving forever… but there’s good money to be made in reframing those old problems over and over.
_However_… while the problems aren’t new, I have over my career seen them come into better focus. My first job out of college (decades ago, now) was “building loads” for big telecom switches. The man who hired me (thanks Vinod, wherever you are!) said our objective was to automate ourselves out of a job. We were
writing software, and that software had a huge effect on the product by speeding up dev cycles and reducing impact due to errors. But we weren’t looked at as “real” developers. I moved on as a software developer, but I was always less interested in making the product than I was in how I could make making
the product better. I’m not a “10x” developer… but I’m a developer who helps teams
of “10x” developers get all the way to “10x”, instead of getting bogged down in toil. I can have a big impact, and it’s a rush. But that impact wasn’t always very visible and it was usually hard to describe what I did. It didn’t really have a good title, and I sure wasn’t compensated like a “real” developer. Over time, the technology I used made incredible leaps in terms of the leverage it provided, but also increased in complexity. The industry started to recognize what I did as a sort of legit sub-specialty, and I rebranded as a “devops engineer”. It was a buzzword title, but it did
make it easier to find people who needed my particular specialty. Of course, “devops engineer” has become too “low resolution” of a term, and now I see “platform engineers” and “developer productivity engineers”. I kind of like that latter one. I haven’t changed the essence of what I do
, but the buzzwords and reams of “X is dead, long live Y” articles at least get folks in companies thinking
about what I do as a legitimate, critical function. There’s always been a need for people like me; but there hasn’t always been a time when a CTO or VP of engineering recognized
how much value I could add.
All that to say: I don’t think it’s a spike in interest so much as just the emergence of better names and descriptions for roles we’ve always needed (and have always been building in one form or another). I’m thrilled this field is getting better attention, even if a lot of it is buzz and hype. The toughest challenges I’ve faced usually involved trying to find ways to get resources directed at improving the developer platform. If executives start taking platform engineering seriously because they read a hype article on Forbes.com
… yeah, I’ll take it.