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InfoQ Homepage News Spotify Releases Enterprise Plugin Bundle for Backstage

Spotify Releases Enterprise Plugin Bundle for Backstage

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Spotify has released five plugins for Backstage as a purchasable bundle. The five plugins cover a variety of use cases including compliance, access control, employee education and satisfaction, and usage metrics. The plugins are a mix of existing Spotify tooling and new development specifically for this bundle.

Backstage is an open-source platform for building developer portals. Spotify uses Backstage internally as a home for their development golden paths. Like the paved road concept popularized by Netflix, the Golden Path provides a standardized experience that scaffolds out the necessary project skeleton. Each path is accompanied by documentation that describes the best practices for this work. Spotify recently donated Backstage to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

The Soundcheck plugin runs checks against software components to validate they are compliant with the organization's engineering standards. Tyson Singer, head of technology and platforms at Spotify, shared that Spotify found this approach more effective than manual follow-ups.

Instead of chasing teams down when their software isn’t meeting expectations, we’ve found that simply visualizing standards in the relevant context incentivizes action.

Checks in Soundcheck are grouped together into programs. Checks can be integrated with CI/CD pipelines with their results stored either in the Backstage database or in a plugin-specific database. By default, only the latest result for the check is retained. While longer history can be enabled, it must currently be viewed in an external system such as Tableau.

Soundcheck overview page display all entities owned by a specific group

Soundcheck overview page display all entities owned by a specific group (credit: Spotify)

 

Spotify does not populate Soundcheck with programs or checks based on their best practices instead opting to remain "as non-opinionated as possible about the programs you define and what constitutes passing a check."

The Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) plugin provides a no-code management UI for defining roles, users, groups, and permissions. Unlike the existing open-source permissions framework, the RBAC plugin is designed to be used by non-engineers via a guided authoring experience. It also provides real-time validation during policy building, a structured mapping between organizations and roles, and a view of all changes made.

The Skill Exchange plugin provides an internal marketplace for learning opportunities. This includes connecting mentors with mentees, allowing teams to find additional temporary help, and skill-centered profiles. Users can list the skills they are comfortable helping others with and skills they would like to learn.

The plugin has a built-in Slack integration with future plans for adding an integration for GitHub Enterprise. Spotify also has plans for adding integrations, via API, for Human Resource and Learning Management Software tools.

The Pulse plugin provides a curated set of survey questions for measuring developer productivity and satisfaction. Internally to Spotify, this is known as the EngSat Survey. The plugin anonymizes the data and presents it for analyzing trends within teams. At this time, the plugin does not support custom questions, but Spotify has indicated that is something they may add in the future.

The final plugin, Insights, tracks Backstage usage data within the organization. The two metrics tracked are active users, both as a whole and within plugins, and page views on a per-plugin basis. This plugin is provided as a hosted service with Spotify handling the availability and scaling. Dashboards of the data are available through the account profile on backstage.spotify.com.

The five plugins are closed-source and available via an open beta to all Backstage adopters. Pricing information was not available at release time, so Backstage users interested in the plugins are advised to contact Spotify for more details. Spotify has indicated they will provide support for the plugins in the bundle and they are evaluating providing enterprise support for Backstage in the future.

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