Shifting Spotify Engineering from Spreadsheets to Backstage


Authors:   Johan Haals, Patrik Oldsberg


The presentation discusses the development and evolution of Backstage, a platform for consolidating engineering tools in one place to reduce fragmentation and speed up onboarding of new engineers.
  • Backstage was developed by Spotify to address the problem of scattered engineering tools and lack of information about services.
  • It started as System C, an inventory of services, but was reworked to make it more extensible and accommodate other categories of entities like data pipelines and websites.
  • Backstage has a plug-in framework that allows for more isolated feature development and a unified interface for all tooling, making it easier for engineers to venture into other domains.
  • The use of Backstage has resulted in a significant reduction in onboarding time for new engineers at Spotify.
At Spotify, the onboarding time of new engineers was measured by the time it takes for an engineer to send their 10th pull request. After introducing Backstage, the onboarding time was cut in half, indicating the platform's effectiveness in consolidating engineering tools and reducing fragmentation.


Is your bookmark bar filled to the brim with links to internal infrastructure tools? Are you using spreadsheets to track the state of your software and infrastructure? Does your company suffer from fragmentation, like hundreds of startups glued together? Then this talk is for you! It will tell the story of how Spotify created a service catalog to bring order to thousands of microservices. It grew to become Backstage, an internal developer portal supporting not just services, but also machine learning models, documentation, over 9000 data pipelines, and much more. With 115 plugins contributed by 58 different teams, Backstage is now Spotify’s single pane of glass for the entire engineering organization. In 2020 Backstage and its software catalog was open sourced and donated to the CNCF, making it available for everyone to use. The talk will also walk you through strategies for adopting Backstage in an existing organization, and how to bootstrap your own catalog.