This blog is a summary of Frost & Sullivan's extensive report on Cortex as the recipient of the Technology Innovation Leadership award for North American Internal Developer Portals. Read the full report here.
A unique approach in an increasingly diverse IDP landscape
The market for Internal Developer Portals is heating up. Whether driven by outputs—a need to improve software quality and velocity, or inputs—a belief that solving for developer experience must come first, one thing is clear: IDP adoption will accelerate as development ecosystems become increasingly complex.
However, because of the variance in user goals and expectations, we're starting to see wide variance in how IDPs are built and deployed. Who are they designed for? What experiences should be prioritized? How do we measure impact?
Some IDPs offer completely open platforms—designed to prioritize flexibility, while others have rigid architectures—designed for speed. To bridge these perspectives, Cortex has taken a "flexible default" approach. Our platform and onboarding architectures were designed from conversations with hundreds of engineering teams to meet the widest range of use cases in the shortest amount of time.
We've eliminated friction in setup through 50+ SDLC integrations, out of the box UI, and highly granular reporting, while still enabling users to tune the solution to fit their needs via support for custom data, adjustable data models, customizable UI, and even the ability to build new experiences via our plugin architecture.
Cortex is awarded the 2023 IDP Innovation Leader award
Cortex's unique approach has led to the quick wins and long-term success for customers like Dropbox, SoFi, and Outreach. We're proud of the work we've done with these customers, and humbled to now be recognized for this work by leading technology analyst firm, Frost & Sullivan, who've named Cortex as the 2023 Innovation Leader for Internal Developer Portals and Microservice Management.
Frost & Sullivan recognizes companies pushing their category forward in product innovation, thought leadership, customer service, and commercial growth. In their market analysis, they identified several strategic considerations that made Cortex stand out against other IDPs. This included frameworks such as the Cortex Engineering Maturity Curve, which we use to match customer initiatives with features designed to unlock value at every phase of program maturity.
The evaluation also took into account operational excellence, noting overall stage gate efficiency that enables products and features to ship quickly and effectively. A broad analysis also factored in technical inputs and specifically called out the architecture that aligns every member of users' engineering team, "from site reliability engineers and platform engineers to the security team and individual developers". This gets to the core of Cortex's goal to unify and align the broad tribe of functions that sit under software development.
Digging deeper into product innovation
When selecting Cortex, Frost & Sullivan examined go-to-market approach, support structures, and the ability to meet a variety of use cases. Importantly, they also dove into the individual features behind these categories, including those generating unique value for end-users. The team made particular note of the Cortex platform's ability to gamify developer engagement with features like Initiatives and the Developer Homepage that are "unique aspects among IDPs yet critical requirements for ensuring developer adoption."
Other noteworthy features mentioned included:
• Software Catalogs: "Cortex enables users to catalog all software entities, such as services, resources, domains (product or org groupings), and teams, in a way that makes ownership, components, language, changes over time, and documentation obvious."
• Ecosystem-spanning Integrations: "Catalogs are fueled by integrations that span the entire developer ecosystem, so that existing data dependencies and relationships can be preserved without needing to rebuild data models from scratch."
• Custom Data: "Data from internal systems, home-grown tools, or third-party applications cannot be overlooked when building a central system of record. Cortex’s users can incorporate custom data and drive action using data from any source."
• Scorecards: "Rubrics can be customized for any short- or long-term use case using data from across the ecosystem. Scorecards can include rules related to maximum allowable vulnerabilities, integration with other security solutions, and minimum code coverage or can be as simple as requiring Helm charts to be attached to each service as part of a one-time migration to Kubernetes."
• Initiatives: "Initiatives add a temporal element to projects, making them increasingly popular with organizations that want to track meaningful progress toward short-term initiatives."
• Scaffolding: "IDPs must now scaffold new services and resources according to defined best practices."
• Actions: "IDPs should enable resource provisioning or have the ability to send payloads out of the platform for execution elsewhere."
• Plugins: "Cortex’s plugins framework enables users to inject data from anywhere into their daily workflows."
• Customization: "As engineering teams blend new tooling into already crowded developer workflows, the customized data model, user interface (UI), and workflows have become non-negotiable for developer portals seeking to centralize tooling and activities. Cortex enables users to customize where and how data appears in the UI."
Understanding community success
The analysis also looked at Cortex in financial terms as a fast-growth startup, in strategic terms as an IDP that "minimizes the tasks-to-resources ratio" for large teams, and in technical terms as a product that offers ecosystem-spanning integrations, custom data and initiatives. This mirrors our desire to add value at the level of individual developers through self-service solutions, to teams and managers by reducing entropy in software development and ultimately for our customers' bottom lines by allowing them to ship higher-quality software more quickly.
Our portal is built by and for developers, and using this first-hand knowledge of the pain points our customers face is what makes our portal stand out. This is more than just a fact of operations: it is central to our culture, with our developers acting as our first, and most demanding, customers. They are empowered to identify problems and solve them from first principles, and they are further supported by our close relationship with customers.
Frost & Sullivan recognized the results of these when assessing features, calling out Cortex's ecosystem-spanning integrations, initiatives, scaffolder and customization as being particularly impressive. They found that Cortex competes more with legacy tools such as spreadsheets than with other portals: the firm noted that while Backstage is an open source option that offers companies the chance to build a portal from the ground up, it can't match Cortex for immediate impact.
Conclusion and full report
The detailed analysis conducted by Frost & Sullivan assessed not just what we build into our platform, but how we make these decisions. It pointed to our cross-functional engagement that brings operations, sales and customer success into our research as central to the portal's innovation at Cortex and to our customer-first culture. This includes using multiple channels for feedback, integrating customer engagement into product development. Our goal is to minimize friction for developers using our portal, as well as to minimize friction for identifying ways to improve the product and offer feedback.
We are proud to receive this award, and even prouder of Frost & Sullivan's report of our product in their detailed assessment. Cortex CEO Anish Dhar said, "Frost & Sullivan is a top analyst, and we are honored to receive this recognition. I see this as a challenge to continue to improve rather than recognition of what we have done, and we plan to take this momentum with us into 2024." Read the full report, take a self-guided tour, or grab time to chat with us live about how Cortex can help improve software quality and velocity at your organization.