Cloud costs
March 5, 2024
min read

Why Harness IDP, powered by Backstage, is Your Gateway to Effortless Developer Portal Excellence



Harness believes in the power of Backstage as the go-to open source framework for powering Internal Developer Portals. With its robust plugin model and strong presence in the market, Backstage has proven to be a valuable tool for many organizations. However, as a framework rather than a ready-to-use solution, Backstage poses many adoption challenges in terms of completeness and maintenance. This is where Harness steps in, offering a full-featured Internal Developer Portal product, an enterprise-grade solution built on top of Backstage to address these pain points and elevate the developer experience at a significantly faster pace than self-managed Backstage.

Backstage Adoption and Usage Challenges

While Backstage offers great potential as a flexible framework for Developer Platforms, getting it up and running smoothly isn't always easy. It's not like installing a ready-made solution; instead, it needs careful setup to match what your developers need. Its strength lies in its plugin system, which helps solve developers' problems, forming the core of a good Developer Portal.

But even with its strengths, customizing Backstage to fit your developers' exact needs can be tough. Making a Developer Portal that suits your team might mean lots of coding work, especially for making user interfaces in React and typescript. If your team doesn't have skilled DevOps engineers or experienced front-end developers with React expertise, you might find it hard to overcome these challenges.

Also, developing such a complex product requires a skilled team which requires significant investment. To use Backstage well, you need dedicated DevOps engineers, senior developers, and a good product owner. Without them, you might struggle to make the most of Backstage as your Developer Portal solution. Harness IDP takes away those building parts from your side and offers a latest version of the backstage with enterprise grade features. 

Mitigating Challenges and Enhancing Backstage's Capabilities

Workflow Automation with Scaffolder

One of the key areas where Harness adds value is in workflow automation, particularly with the Scaffolder functionality. While Backstage provides basic automation for component registration, Harness IDP extends this by offering more generalized developer automation. Leveraging the Pipeline automation workflow engine, developers can enjoy self-service capabilities, reducing wait times and improving time to market.

Streamlined Administrative Experience

Managing Backstage can be cumbersome, requiring manual editing of files and tracking changes. Harness IDP simplifies this process by handling hosting, upgrading, and patching, while providing an intuitive administrative interface. This alleviates the administrative burden and allows platform teams to focus on higher-value tasks.

Robust Governance Features

Harness IDP comes equipped with robust Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) out of the box and seamlessly integrates with Single Sign-On (SSO) providers like Okta. Access to automation can be finely governed by permissions, ensuring security and compliance without the need for extensive configuration.

Proprietary Scorecards for Progress Tracking

As part of the Harness IDP solution, Scorecards offer a unique capability to track organizational initiatives and progress across teams and services. Whether it's achieving specific test coverage targets or migrating to newer versions, Scorecards provide visibility and accountability.

Embracing Innovation without Compromise

Uncompromised Security

Unlike loading every community plugin into the catalog, Harness IDP takes a cautious approach. Community plugins undergo rigorous review before being made available, ensuring safety and reliability for users. While this may introduce slight delays for less popular plugins, it ultimately prioritizes security.

Balanced Customization

While users retain a significant degree of customization power, Harness IDP ensures a balance between flexibility and stability. Unlike running a completely open-source project where any change is possible, the enterprise solution offers a curated environment for efficient development without compromising stability.

Harness' commitment is clear: to provide the latest features of Backstage alongside a superior administrative experience and innovative features that empower developers. By bridging the gap between Backstage's framework and enterprise needs, Harness IDP delivers a comprehensive solution for seamless development experiences.

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Internal Developer Portal