10 reasons to get Backstage from Roadie

Published on January 27th, 2022 by David Tuite

At Roadie, we ❤️  Backstage. We’ve talked to countless companies who have adopted and are getting value from the technology.

Self-hosted Backstage remains the right choice for many organizations. Large organizations with thousands of developers and abundant resources will be able to staff a team to deploy, customize and manage Backstage.

For companies with a few hundred developers, it’s not so easy. Every engineering hour spent on internal tools is an hour that could be spent delivering customer-facing value. We believe Roadie is the right answer in this situation.

Below are 10 reasons why Roadie might be right for your company.

1) Roadie cuts the time to value

Internal friction on the path to production can mean it takes longer than you expect to get a production deployment of self-hosted Backstage running. Consideration must be given to the TechDocs pipeline, search, authentication, config management and other complications.

When adopting new tools, speed and momentum are important. If the migration and ramp up takes too long, the initiative will lose steam before it even gets going.

Before joining Roadie, software engineer Miklós Kiss worked on the Backstage implementation at Prezi. He spent multiple weeks working with a colleague to get Backstage deployed to production there.

A big chunk of the time went to understanding what Backstage is, how it works, what plugins are and how to utilize them. We spent time fighting with the GitHub rate limit, figuring out the authentication, adding telemetry into it etc. It was a lot of work!

Miklós Kiss

With Roadie, in less than an hour you can go from clicking the “Request a free trial” button to having a catalog populated with components, basic TechDocs for documentation, and plugins installed and integrated.

2) We handle the upgrades

Once you’ve gotten it running, you have to keep it recent. We’ve all seen examples of self-hosted software which is way out of date and generally unmaintained.

At Roadie, we upgrade every Backstage instance approximately once per week, and you’re typically not much more than 2 weeks behind the latest release.

We can do this in a cost effective way because we have economies of scale working in our favor. But it costs valuable engineering time each week, and you may want to keep your engineers focussed on customer facing work.

intercom-inbound

Upgrades can and do go wrong. At Roadie, we perform automated and manual verifications against each release to try and ensure it is going to roll out cleanly. Broken features cause frustrated users, and nobody wants to adopt a tool they believe will be flakey.

3) We help you adopt Backstage

Of course, deployment and maintenance is only half the battle. The other side of the challenge is adoption. We’ve built features into Backstage to help your engineering teams get the most from the technology.

For example

  1. We automatically syntax check and validate your Backstage metadata YAMLs before they’re ingested. This catches errors which can prevent components from showing up in the catalog as expected.
  2. We provide a Locations Log where users can go to understand why their components are not appearing as they expect.
  3. We’ve produced simple, user focussed documentation which helps your end users get started quickly.

These measures work together with a healthy dose of support provided by our customer communications channels. We’d like your org to get maximum value from Backstage while ensuring you don’t need a full-time staff employed to answer questions from your engineers.

If you want to learn more about the features Backstage provides, check out our Ultimate Guide to Backstage by Spotify.

4) We prioritize security

We take security seriously at Roadie. Our founding team comes from enterprise companies like Workday and Spotify and we understand what it takes to keep data and processes safe.

Some of our security measures include:

  1. Thoughtful and careful design of every part of our architecture. For example, you can read about how we designed our GitHub integration to prevent cross-org access.
  2. Multiple GitHub apps so you can choose the level of access you grant to Roadie Backstage.
  3. Frequent and extensive third-party pen-testing. We often provide the reports to security teams as we go through procurement.
  4. Running certification programs. We’re working on SOC 2 Type II and expect to be certified by September 2022.

At Roadie, we’re always working to improve security. Please request a demo if you would like to hear more about what we’re doing to keep customer data safe.

5) You don’t have to edit the code

Many people expect that the Backstage repository works like a standard UI application. You clone the repository, run it and start using it immediately.

In reality, it’s more like create-react-app. It’s a framework or set of components and plugins that you can compose together to make a developer portal for your organization.

This means that changes like adding a plugin to the Backstage interface require editing the code, committing and re-deploying.

At Roadie, we’ve built a drag and drop composer on top of the normal Backstage plugins, so adding a plugin takes a couple of clicks.

Configuration is handled in a similar way. Want to set up the Kubernetes plugin? Just head to the administration area and add a cluster via the UI.

6) 22+ plugins work straight out of the box

Backstage wouldn’t be much without its plugins. From TechDocs documentation to Kubernetes integration, it’s the plugins which give Backstage much of its discoverability value and power.

We support all of the best Backstage plugins and if there is something you don’t see, we typically integrate it for you within a couple of hours.

Not only do we support all the best plugins, we actually built some of them. We’ve created 12+ open-source Backstage plugins which are free for the community to use. Our open-source team is always looking for inspiration, and we frequently take customer feedback on board when deciding where to focus our efforts.

7) You can bring your own plugins

Every company has home-grown tools and technologies that only make sense in the context of the place they were invented. Sometimes our customers want to build Backstage plugins around these tools so they can be more easily discovered by other engineers in their company.

At Roadie, every Growth Plan customer gets a private artefact repository where they can publish vanilla Backstage plugins. These plugins integrate and run inside Roadie Backstage just like all the normal open-source plugins. You don’t have to do any special magic to your plugins to make this work. Just npm publish them using your normal npm workflow, and we handle the rest.

8) We track the community

With 50+ pull requests being merged into the project each week, hardly a week goes by when there isn’t a new feature or plugin released.

Your teams have customer-facing work they’re trying to get done and they won’t have time to follow all of this work and understand how they can integrate it and get value from it.

At Roadie, we eat, drink and breathe Backstage, so we know what’s happening. We uptake and integrate significant new features for you, so you can stay focussed on what you do best.

If you do want to keep your finger on the pulse, we publish a regular newsletter which tracks the project which can help you stay up to date with the most important changes.

9) We’ve got the scaffolder

Early versions of Roadie didn’t have the scaffolder because we knew it needed special consideration to run safely in a multi-tenanted environment.

After months of hard work we’re ready to make the scaffolder broadly available. In early 2022, we’re making the scaffolder generally available on Roadie.

By making it easier to start new projects, your engineers get to the good part of coding features faster. And your organization’s best practices are built into the templates, encouraging standards and reducing complexity in your tech ecosystem.

10) We’re here to support you

We understand that most teams don’t want to go it alone. That’s why we do our best to support your company on its Backstage journey.

Every customer gets a dedicated support channel in Slack or Discord. If something is not working as expected, we’re there to help you debug it. Anyone in your company is free to join the conversation.

We also meet each one of our customers on a regular cadence so they have a place to make requests, get support, and influence our roadmap. Feedback delivered in these meetings feeds directly into our planning process.

We’re constantly working to improve Roadie. Want to hear more about an item on the list, or ask us anything at all, why not Request a Demo on our website.

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