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Build or Buy a Cloud Development Environment?

Webinar: Replicated's Development Journey

Building an in-house cloud development environment might, at first, seem like a good idea. But building means you’re now responsible for future development investments, ongoing research, compliance, maintenance, bug fixes, platform updates, and support.

Marc Campbell, CTO and Founder of Replicated explains their considerations and challenges when it comes to building in-house solutions.

Below are four categories of consideration that will help you make your decision

We tried to build it in-house, but that failed. Companies don't understand the complexity of what's under the hood when building their cloud dev environments, such as the custom resource definitions and technical design needed to work with Kubernetes.

- from a leading healthcare provider

You Built it - You Own It

Building an in-house cloud development environment might seem at first like an intelligent business decision. A homegrown solution allows teams to own the specs and control releases to meet their team’s unique requirements. But building means your team is now responsible for future development investments, ongoing research, compliance, maintenance, bug fixes, platform updates, and support. All of this is a costly and time consuming distraction from your core business.

Why You Should Buy: Superior Features

Built by cloud developers for cloud developers, Okteto offers a depth and breadth of out-of-the-box features that allow today’s developers to create microservices for cloud applications. Okteto’s cloud development environment has been battle tested with a feature set defined by requests from some of the most innovative development organizations in the world. And many of these powerful features might have never been considered by development organizations with a homegrown system.

Okteto is built with pre-configured development images for the following languages: dotnetcore, golang, java, node, php, python, ruby and rust. Additionally, Okteto works with existing Helm charts, docker-compose, or Kubernetes manifests. At the end of the day, you have to ask if your homegrown development is robust enough to simplify the adoption of kubernetes, provide enterprise-ready security, support namespaces, mirror production and scale as technology evolves. If not, then buying is the right business decision.

Our homegrown solution took a massive investment of our engineering to keep Kubernetes, Docker, and all kinds of cutting edge technologies updated and supported. It was difficult, taking our engineers’ time to support because every day something was broken.

Marc CampbellCTO & Co-Founder, Replicated
Marc CampbellMarc Campbell

Can Your Solution Scale?

If you've built your cloud development environment, you could argue that you have an in-house team that knows your solution inside and out; therefore, performance maintenance should be easy. But what happens when your homegrown mastermind walks out the door with that domain knowledge? And what happens when your environment needs to scale to support emerging standards and evolve to address new upgrades to complex technologies, such as Kubernetes?

Slowly propagated platform updates and poorly designed resiliency of your homegrown environment cause unacceptable downtime when issues occur. And seemingly innocuous updates can reveal security gaps and business logic data bugs. These issues slow your teams down, negatively impact developer experience and performance, and put the delivery of value at risk.

Why You Should Buy: Reliability

Oketo keeps up with maintenance and regular updates for new features and functionality to provide unparalleled speed, reliability and scalability. Okteto's first-class architecture offers several layers of redundancy and ensures consistency and enterprise-ready security with every update.

The Oketo platform is flexible, secure, and designed to offer performance at scale whether you're developing simple internal apps or complex global apps with hundreds of microservices. In contrast, homegrown solutions and the teams that support them  can quickly be overwhelmed by the requirements necessary of your product teams. Okteto ensures your development environment works with current standards so your development team can design the cloud applications that will change the world.

We spent 12 months building our preview environment system ourselves, but it was never as good as we wanted. We didn't have the bandwidth to manage or maintain it, and it was distracting us from our primary engineering needs.

John CraftCTO & Co-Founder, Privacy Dynamics
John CraftJohn Craft

Free Your Engineers to Drive Value

The total cost of ownership (TCO) is often overlooked when development teams choose to build a development environment internally. Here's the rule: if your engineers spend time on a weekly basis dealing with development environment maintenance issues, then they are not focused on innovating and developing revenue-generating application features. Simply put: building an in-house development platform is resource expensive and time-consuming…and the results are often disappointing.

Why You Should Buy: Support and Expertise

Okteto provides a support team with years of cloud development and kubernetes experience by your side. Okteto draws on its expertise to solve complex problems, develop comprehensive solutions, proactively address security issues, and predict usage needs and patterns to benefit your business and meet the cross-functional needs of entire stakeholders. As a result, your team that was burdened with the responsibilities of maintaining your development environment can now focus on what they do best - developing killer applications.

As you think about building your own platform consider this: It took an entire dedicated team of engineers a year to build the first version of Okteto. This represents around 1MM in payroll expenses to get the platform up and running. Throw in a few other priorities and distractions, and you’re easily looking at 2X that.

Ramiro BerrellezaCEO & Co-founder, Okteto
Ramiro BerrellezaRamiro Berrelleza

Building Has Many Unforeseen Costs

Let's face it: at the end of the day, the argument for building versus buying always comes down to ROI. If you build, you bear the entire cost burden of homegrown software. That includes paying for the initial buildout, ongoing support, bug fixes, upgrades, platform migrations, and keeping up with software industry trends. These costs can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions.

Why You Should Buy: Money

Okteto has increased productivity by 200% for Replicated, reduced bugs and late-stage defects by 80% for Homa Games, and lowering scrap and rework by 50% for But perhaps the most significant ROI for a cloud development platform environment solution is providing a positive developer experience. Removing the burden of maintaining a hosted solution allows engineers to focus on driving value for the organization.

Okteto owns all costs associated with building and maintenance while continuously gaining efficiencies across a large customer base, reducing the cost to customers. Ask yourself: what’s the value of a positive developer experience and what’s the potential risk and cost of a migration mishap, security breach, prolonged delays, and scrap and rework caused by a homegrown solution?

Further reading

5 Internal Software Development Platform Challenges

Some of the smartest engineering and DevOps managers sometimes make the mistake of treating a new software initiative as a single, well-defined one-off...

January 23, 2023
Avatar of John PapageorgeAvatar of John PapageorgeJohn Papageorge

The Cost and Complications of In-House Development Environments

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth" - Mike Tyson. The importance of tools that boost a positive developer experience can't be overstated....

January 19, 2023
Avatar of John PapageorgeAvatar of John PapageorgeJohn Papageorge

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