Adopter Spotlight: Toyota revs up secure app development with Backstage and AWS

Emma White, Spotify

Note: AWS published the original case study and video.

Toyota header image

tl;dr Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) recently shared how they combined the power of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Backstage to securely deploy applications faster and save $10 million in annual costs.

From stuck-in-neutral to gassed up

As TMNA matured its cloud development strategy, engineering teams were running into increased friction and bottlenecks in its highly manual deployment process. They needed to find a tool that would simplify and streamline creating new apps on AWS and allow their developers to build quickly and easily while adhering to best practices and security requirements. And that’s where Backstage came in….

AWS supported TMNA to solve this problem through a developer portal built off the Backstage core framework. The result was a shiny, new internal development platform called “Chofer” — Spanish for “chauffeur” as an homage to Toyota’s manufacturing presence in Mexico.

Today, Chofer supports 100+ application teams, 1,600+ cloud applications, and 40+ AWS services – helping the company save money by deploying secure, modern applications at scale more quickly than ever before.

Streamlining to a single interface

TMNA spent six months in late 2020 assembling the team to build their Backstage instance and working with AWS to map out their project needs. They started building out the Chofer frontend in February 2021 and, in a few short months, the team released an MVP Chofer for TMNA developers to start using.

Over time, Chofer has grown to unify infrastructure tooling, services, training, observability, cost tracking, infrastructure scaffolding, and documentation into a single streamlined development interface. Chofer’s goal is to take the guesswork out of the equation for developers allowing them to create new apps and templates quickly and at scale in partnership with its security teams.

As Kishore Jonnalagedda, Director of Engineering at TMNA, says: “Security patterns and scalability are already taken into account. All these things – capacity, operations, cost optimization, cost transparency, and security – are being built into the application without the application team having to think of them in detail.”

Going places...a lot faster

Because Backstage is cloud-agnostic, TMNA was able to customize Backstage according to their AWS needs and make their AWS deployments go even faster. Specifically, TMNA used Backstage’s Software Templates and Software Catalog to program 40+ templates so that developers can easily deploy containerized applications using Amazon ECS or Amazon EKS, for example. Additionally, they’ve configured their Backstage app to implement specific backend parameters across different AWS regions and create dashboards that track cost expenditure.

The combined power of the self-service catalog and software templates allows TMNA developers to move faster. Now, developers can ship projects in a matter of weeks, not quarters. In fact, one team reported that they saved six weeks of effort — equivalent to $250,000 — with these improvements by not having to build a particular application from scratch.

The TMNA cloud team can also ensure deployments are backward compatible and upgraded along with CI/CD pipelines, saving its application teams an additional estimated 4-6 weeks on these tasks.

A big win for the bottom line

As a result of its increased developer productivity, TMNA saw an overall cost reduction of more than $10 million in 2022 – as well as a reduction of around $5 million in annual cloud infrastructure costs, saving up to $96,000 in infrastructure costs per team.

TMNA was also able to track its go-green initiatives using Chofer’s Cloud Carbon Footprint tool, which reveals the various TMNA teams’ carbon footprints, their cloud spend, and their cost optimization recommendations.

Ultimately, by leveraging the power of AWS and Backstage, TMNA saw a reduction in costs, with a huge impact on developer effectiveness. Now, its application teams are working to further their cloud competencies and showcase their cloud expertise through blogs and training – helping other teams to adopt Chofer and bring Backstage’s many benefits to other areas of the business.

Read the original case study here. Using Backstage? Let us know.