June 6th, 2024 - Chris Aubuchon, Head of Customer Success

The Top Three Technology Decisions Teams Make When Building a Platform

Creating a platform? You're in the right spot. Our mission at Cycle started with a clear purpose: to create the best platform for building platforms.

Here's the thing, there's really no easy way to build a platform. It requires making a lot of tough technology decisions that can affect success, growth, and upkeep for years to come. There are however some ways to make things simpler. Here are the three technology decisions I've seen make the biggest impact and how to navigate them.

1. Choosing the Core Technology Stack

Why It's Difficult:

Selecting the right core tech is a fundamental part of the platform's chance for success. Deciding on programming languages, frameworks, databases, and even the platform your platform will be built upon are all critical. Each component has its own set of strengths, weaknesses, and opinions.

  • Scalability: Can the technology handle the projected growth in users, data, and internally will it scale with bringing on new employees?
  • Performance: Does the technology provide the performance necessary for your platform's needs?
  • Specialty: Will you need specialized talent in order to use the technology?
  • Flexibility: Is the technology adaptable to changes and future enhancements?

When Cycle first started out we had the choice of building our solution completely from scratch or building on top of some other well recognized container orchestrators like Kubernetes, Docker, or the then popular Mesos. The cost of not building from scratch would mean we'd always be beholden to the whims of another product. It would have made us far less agile, slowing things down and putting us in the proverbial "box" from which it's impossible to escape. So we built our entire stack of services from the ground up.

2. Ensuring Data Security and Compliance

Why It's Difficult:

Data security and compliance are non-negotiable, especially with increasing regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA. Making the wrong decision here can lead to severe legal consequences and loss of user trust.

  • Regulatory Requirements: What laws and regulations apply to your platform and user base?
  • Data Encryption: How will you protect data at rest and in transit?
  • Access Controls: How will you manage user authentication and authorization?
  • Audits: How will you ensure that all data access and modifications are logged and auditable?

There was a time we considered building our own public cloud. This would have been a really neat way to package our product and make it available to users, but there is a gigantic amount of process, security, and compliance that comes with this choice. In the end we decided to start by running our core services on existing major cloud providers that we know would have the experience, certifications, and compliance to provide robust security.

With that same thought in mind, we built the Cycle platform in a way that allows users to also benefit from the providers we support in a "bring your own infrastructure" model. Our platform never touches any customer data and can even be modified to run in on-prem infrastructure or a hybrid model.

We've also been pleased to find that for many compliance focused companies, our ability to help them consolidate a handful of services into a single vendor (Cycle) makes compliance much more straightforward for their team!

3. Balancing the Granularity of Customization

Why It's Difficult

Deciding on the level of customization versus using pre-built solutions is a complex balancing act. Custom solutions can be tailored to perfectly fit your needs but come with higher development and maintenance costs. Pre-built solutions are quicker to deploy but may require you to make compromises.

  • Time to Market: How quickly do you want to launch?
  • Budget: What are the short term and long term financial models and total cost of ownership.
  • Technical Debt: How much ongoing maintenance are you prepared to handle?
  • User Needs: How unique are the needs of your user base?

When we designed Cycle, we prioritized vertical integration and minimizing long term technical debt (for both our users and ourselves). Those decisions have allowed us to now add more powerful features in a much shorter time-frame than others in our space. This is the power of taking an opinionated position for your platform and not trying to be everything to everyone. Consider using your opinionated position as a compass to help guide you through understanding how to evaluate these strategic points of building your platform.

The Future Counts On You

No one can get every technology choice correct. By carefully considering your options, you can navigate these challenges and build a platform that's robust, scalable, and secure. Remember, your decisions today will shape the success and sustainability of your platform for years to come.

💡 Interested in trying the Cycle platform? Create your account today! Want to drop in and have a chat with the Cycle team? We'd love to have you join our public Cycle Slack community!