What Azure DevOps Can Do For You

Everybody involved with any kind of software development has heard the DevOps mantra: "DevOps automates and speeds software delivery." Of course, not everyone practices DevOps because there’s a learning curve and a discipline to follow and that’s not always easy especially in organizations demanding instant application gratification. Despite the hype, getting started in DevOps can be a challenge.

So beyond marketing mantras, what positive things can DevOps do for you?

"DevOps is a practice that unifies people, process, and technology across development and IT in five core practices: planning and tracking, development, build and test, delivery, and monitoring and operations," Microsoft explains in an overview of Azure DevOps. "When practicing DevOps, development, IT operations, quality engineering, and security teams work closely together—breaking down practices that were once siloed. Improved coordination and collaboration across these disciplines reduces the time between when a change is committed to a system and when the change is placed into production. And, it ensures that standards for security and reliability are met as part of the process. The result: better products, delivered faster ..."

If you get the time and training to implement it, DevOps could help satisfy demands for instant application gratification.

There are lots of tools to help developers but for someone new to DevOps, it’s not always clear what does what.

In the Microsoft cloud world, Azure DevOps server and services is designed to smooth the developer’s way into the paradigm.

"Azure offers an end-to-end, automated solution for DevOps that includes integrated security and monitoring," according to Microsoft. "The developer experience of Azure DevOps integrates with the tools of your choice. If you’re a Java developer—great—Azure provides native integrations with Eclipse. If you build with Jenkins, use it to easily deploy directly to Azure. Bring your development, IT operations, and quality engineering teams together to build, test, deploy, monitor and manage applications in the cloud."

Deciphering Microsoft Names

The products sound good but the product naming can get a little confusing. Things have evolved. First of all there is Azure DevOps Services, a subscription-based Azure platform, announced in September 2018, that's hosted from Microsoft's datacenters. Then this March, the Redmond, WA-based company announced Azure DevOps Server 2019, which is designed for organizations that want to deploy it in their own infrastructures or any datacenter. One more clarification is needed because Azure DevOps Server 2019 is replacing Team Foundation Server (TFS). Microsoft says that "Azure DevOps represents the evolution of Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)" and suggests users of Team Foundation Server 2012 and newer versions upgrade to Azure DevOps Server 2019.

Now, that that’s cleared up, what do these versions of the platform provide for developers wanting to apply the DevOps model to their Azure-based products?

In a blog Introducing Azure DevOps Service, Jamie Cool, Director of Program Management, Azure DevOps, said: "Working with our customers and developers around the world it’s clear DevOps has become increasingly critical to a team’s success. Azure DevOps captures over 15 years of investment and learnings in providing tools to support software development teams."

In announcing the Azure DevOps Server, Cool said it "includes developer collaboration tools which can be used together or independently, including Azure Boards (Work), Azure Repos (Code), Azure Pipelines (Build and Release), Azure Test Plans (Test), and Azure Artifacts (Packages). These tools support all popular programming languages, any platform (including macOS, Linux, and Windows) or cloud, as well as on-premises environments."

As with TFS, developers control where they install Azure DevOps Server and when they apply updates.

Cool says there are major updates from TFS 2018 to Azure DevOps Server 2019, and his key highlights include:

  • The new navigation, which enables users to easily navigate between services, is more responsive and provides more space to focus on your work.
  • Azure Pipelines has been enhanced in many ways including new Build and Release pages, and support for YAML builds.

And for those who would rather let Microsoft manage the maintenance and updates, Cool points out that Azure DevOps Services is available.

"Each Azure DevOps service is open and extensible," according to Microsoft. "You can use them together for a full DevOps solution or with other services. If you want to use Azure Pipelines to build and test a Node service from a repo in GitHub and deploy it to a container in AWS, go for it. Azure DevOps supports both public and private cloud configurations. Run them in our cloud or in your own data center."

Azure and AI

As part of its big Build developer conference earlier this month, Microsoft announced new development features for Azure related to artificial intelligence development with machine learning.

As reported in a Visual Studio Magazine article, the news includes MLOps (DevOps for machine learning) capabilities with Azure DevOps integration. MLOps is designed to provide developers with reproducibility, auditability and automation of the end-to-end machine learning lifecycle.

"We're delivering key new innovations in Azure Machine Learning that simplify the process of building, training and deployment of machine learning models at scale," exec Scott Guthrie announced in a blog post before the conference. "These include new automated machine learning advancements and an intuitive UI that make developing high-quality models easier, a new visual machine learning interface that provides a zero-code model creation and deployment experience using drag-and-drop capabilities and new machine learning notebooks for a rich, code-first development experience."

DevOps in the Spotlight

The spotlight will be on DevOps at VSLive! in Boston, June 9 – 13. It will include a Full Day Hands-On Lab: Building a Modern DevOps Pipeline on Microsoft Azure with ASP.NET Core and Azure DevOps.

"By the end of the day you'll have your own Azure DevOps organization with a CI/CD pipeline configured, a deployed app, and the hands-on experience on how to build a modern ASP.NET Core and SQL Database solution that runs in Azure using Azure DevOps," the lab description promises.

Find out about all the learning opportunities at Posted by Richard Seeley on 05/15/2019

Keep Up-to-Date with Visual Studio Live!

Email address*Country*