Cortex vs Backstage by Spotify: Which is right for you?

Backstage is an open source framework for building Internal Developer Portals. If you're looking for out-of-the-box convenience with all the same flexibility, Cortex's Internal Developer Portal is where you should start.

Services screen inside Cortex app

As they describe themselves on their website, Backstage is a framework to build your own IDP. That means you still need to build all the plumbing, staff a large team, and constantly iterate based on internal team requests and demands. In reality, most companies shouldn't commit to a project demanding that high level of resources and manual effort.


With Cortex, reduce the manual effort of cataloging software and enforcing standards with templated frameworks, and incentivize continual improvement through customizable scorecards that grade software quality by production readiness, compliance alignment, code coverage, and more.

Why Cortex

Fast ramp and long-term scale

Your engineers don't want to build integrations and plugins, and all UI work on Backstage requires front-end resources that know React. Cortex has 50+ integrations, OOTB scorecards, a full reporting module, initiatives, and alerting. Customize with the Cortex plugins framework, without worrying about maintenance.

Higher developer adoption

Organizations often struggle with developer adoption of Backstage, which is not surprising because there's no reason for devs to log in. Cortex Developer Homepages outline clear actions for devs, and Initiatives enable short or long-term projects with deadlines and alerting.

Dynamic scoring from any source

Backstage only enables you to perform software checks manually via API, using "facts" or metadata in your catalog, assuming you spring for that extra plugin package at the cost of Cortex's entire platform. With Cortex, you can pull from all 50+ integrations to create any rule in any format for any Scorecard.

Cortex vs Backstage

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Software Catalog

OOTB Catalog

Pre-built catalog with auto discovery
Build your own catalogs - typically takes 2-3 FTEs and 4-6 months to build

Catalog flexibility

Ability to catalog anything, and customize based on your unique business needs
Unlimited flexibility; but requires development resources to customize


With Cortex Query Language, find answers faster by asking questions like “who’s on call for services in our payment product?,” or, “which services are still on the old secrets manager?”
“Backstage Search”

Relationship visualization

New in 2024, improved relationship visualization to make it even easier to quickly trace domain hierarchies
Backstage requires manual dependency mapping: Define relationships for each node in a YAML file

Extendable with plugins 
and external data sources

Plugins let you build apps that can be embedded in the Cortex UI and fed from any data source, including homegrown solutions
Community-based plugin network; YMMV


Pre-built, vendor supported integrations

50+ integrations to pull data from across your tech stack, all accessible in one place. Check out all of our integrations

Must build and maintain all of your own integrations

Automatic ownership syncing

Eliminate manual updates that lead to stale ownership data. Cortex automatically syncs with your identity provider like Okta, GitHub Teams, and Active Directory to keep ownership information up to date
Must build and maintain your integrations

API-based data ingestion

REST API, Terraform, GitOps, CI/CD

Developer Productivity

Developer homepages

The Developer Homepage pulls all of your data into a single place so developers can quickly assess where to invest their time
Can build a homepage with a plugin

Oncall assistant

Automatically surface the most vital information about your service health and metadata when an incident is triggered
Must manually search for ownership information

External notifications

Cortex will message service owners in Teams or Slack regarding any Scorecard improvements or if there are any action items for upcoming Initiatives
No notifications in Teams or Slack, making it more likely for a developer to miss an important alert

Role-based access controls

Simple role-based permission system with users + admins; with permissions to perform actions
Beta plugin

Software Templates & Automation


One-click service creation powered by Cookiecutter to generate boilerplate and plumbing for new services
Available through a plugin


One of the most powerful features of Cortex Actions is their ability to be fully templated


Private Beta now available! Allows users to build and execute sophisticated workflows inside of Cortex, that are based on all of the contextual information that lives inside your workspace
“Data pipelines”

Generate Jira Tickets

Generate Jira tickets while investigating context, to quickly action key requirements
Paid plugin, accessible only through Roadie

Scorecards & Reporting

OOTB Scorecards

Define requirements for any standard like production or migration readiness, development quality, security compliance, and more
Paid subscription ($100-$200/user/year) for package of plugins that includes Backstage Soundcheck


Cortex Initiatives allow you to set deadlines for specific parts of a software scorecard, set deadlines for the entirety of a short-term project, and ensure that everyone on the team has visibility into their action items and deadlines through integrations with Jira and Slack

Schedule new rules

Alert developers that a new rule will go into effect, and schedule reminders to make sure they are aware of new metrics

Executive reporting with historical data

The Bird’s Eye Report shows you the status of scorecards across all your software. Filter views by component, team, or domain, so you can answer questions with whatever granularity is needed

Eng Intelligence

Cortex is the only IDP with Engineering Intelligence. Use data to uncover bigger trends and drive meaningful change from a central system of record the whole org can trust



Expert-led onboarding and training for rapid adoption
Most likely need an internal owner and champion to drive onboarding and training across the organization

Dedicated customer success team

Dedicated account manager and success team throughout your entire journey
Requires an internal champion to serve as the primary point person

World-class engineering teams that chose Cortex over Backstage

Developer adoption with Cortex is higher than Backstage, in large part because of the Developer Homepage.

Pull all of your data into a single place, so developers can quickly assess where to invest their time.

Case Study

LetsGetChecked doubled deployment frequency and slashed MTTR with Cortex

Javier de Vega Ruiz, Chief Software Engineer on LetsGetChecked
“Cortex makes action obvious for devs, helping them stay focused on priorities, and saving me 4-5 hours a week following up. And with Cortex, we set a year-long goal of hitting 25 deployments per week. Within months, we went from 17 per week to 32.”
Javier de Vega Ruiz
Chief Software Engineer
8 months
Shaved off their planned migration to K8s
Increase in deployment frequency
Near immediate improvement of MTTR


What integrations are available for Cortex?

Cortex offers 50+ out-of-the-box, rich integrations that span your development ecosystem, so you can easily connect and analyze all your data - all in one place. Cortex has pre-built and managed integrations with Datadog, Pagerduty, AWS, Jira, GitHub, Okta, ServiceNow, and much, much more.

You can view all integrations we have today, and if you’d like to connect to a homegrown tool, you can leverage the Cortex plugin framework.

Cortex plugins provide a versatile way to bring in data from different sources, whether it's from your own systems or external integrations. They allow you to expand the platform's capabilities, consolidate vital information, and personalize the user interface to better suit your team's workflows. With Cortex plugins, you can create a cohesive system of record, improving efficiency and usability for your developers without having to switch between multiple tools.

What self-service developer tools are available within Cortex?

Cortex offers a scaffolder to help developers bootstrap new entities quickly and in line with established best practice, which allows developers to self-serve and reduces time to code.Beyond scaffolder, Cortex also provides a unique developer homepage, pulling all of your data into a single place so developers can quickly assess where to invest their time. Assign action items to priority Initiatives in Cortex, so devs know exactly what to do and when to meet their company’s ever-evolving standards of service maturity and security.

Why do enterprises choose Cortex over Backstage?

Backstage is a framework for building IDPs, with lots of flexibility and customization, but it requires dedicated resources to stand it up and maintain. Many organizations that try Backstage report 2-3 full time employees, and spend 6-9 months just trying to stand it up.

Cortex is an active internal developer portal that pulls data from across your ecosystem to drive standards of production readiness, operational maturity, security, or any other initiative you have. Cortex is better suited for large teams focused on fast-ramp and long-term scale.

How much flexibility and customization does Cortex provide?

With Cortex, it’s easy to catalog anything. Create any catalog category and tag it to any type, bring in any entity type, with their own unique characteristics, and group any type of entity into the master navigation category of your choosing.

How much does Cortex cost?

Cortex has three different packages for every phase of the journey towards engineering excellence. Cortex is priced per user, per month, and includes unlimited integrations, services, plugins, scorecards, and more. For a detailed breakdown of what Cortex will cost, contact us today.

What can I do if I’ve already started building my catalogs in Backstage?

If you've already started building your catalogs on Backstage, It’s easy to migrate from Backstage to Cortex, maintaining all of the catalogs, teams, and links  you’ve already built.  Learn more about the Backstage Migration Helper

Rafael Garcia, Co-Founder & CTO on Clever
“Scorecards have made it incredibly easy to track the status of migrations across different services and teams.We now have real data on which services are at risk and no longer need to manually check with teams, run scripts, or dig through several tools to find the right data. No one has to go in and update anything manually - it’s all automated and synced with Cortex.”
Rafael Garcia
Co-Founder & CTO