- September 06
- 8 min
What is Azure DevOps?
Azure DevOps was launched as a service in October 2018. It is a Microsoft SaaS platform providing a comprehensive set of DevOps tools for software deployment and development. It is integrated with most of the popular tools and extensions that are already available on the market – such as Slack, Campfire, UserVoice, and Trello.
DevOps supports a culture of collaboration. What does it mean? In this case, DevOps brings developers, employees, and ADLs to work on software together. This option enables efficient work scheduling, code collaboration, as well as simpler application building and development. DevOps gives two options: working in the cloud using Azure DevOps services and working directly without the cloud using an Azure DevOps server.
As for Azure DevOps services and Azure DevOps server, they previously existed simply as Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS for short). Azure DevOps services themselves include several interesting features, which we will discuss today, and these include Azure Pipelines, Azure Artifacts, Azure Boards, and Azure Repos.
How much does Azure DevOps cost?
The basic plan for open-source projects and smaller ones are free for up to 5 users, but if you need to form a larger team, the price will be up to $30 for 10 people, up to $90 for 20, and so on – monthly.
Why you should use Azure DevOps?
With Azure DevOps, you have the ability to centrally host and manage your code, even if you only have a collection of VB or PowerShell scripts. No matter if you use GIT or Team Foundation Version Control to version your code, Azure DevOps makes it easy.
However, if you don’t have any code, you can coordinate your systems using work items. You can freely model work items around the Agile Framework and divide complex systems into workloads that are easily managed.
AzureDevops will provide a robust platform to deploy your solutions and continuous integration. In addition, it supports the use of multi-vendor services and has extensive integration with professional tools. Surprisingly, Microsoft has always been a leader in promoting collaboration with its competitors – so it has various extensions to take care of customers’ needs.
Azure DevOps services
With all of these services, you can benefit from an integrated package that will provide you with the necessary functions to operate. However, because the services are divided into individual components, each user can choose a specific feature for himself, if he needs one or two, he doesn’t have to use the whole package and will save money at the same time.
What are these magical features? Let’s learn something about them.
Azure Boards is a tool for managing tasks and planning them. It exists in the form of an electronic board using Scrum and Kanban methods, so it is similar to Jira. With Boards, you can track the entire process of sprints or overall plans, as well as report on progress. Generally speaking, it is an Agile toolkit. However, if you are unfamiliar with the tool and don’t adjust the configuration to your working model, the activities can become very rough. Of course, after proper optimization, you can do many things.
The pros of Azure Boards
- Managing projects: You can easily manage your software projects thanks to the rich set of capabilities that includes native support for Kanban or Scrum.
- Flexible platform: You will be able to use customizable dashboards and integrated reporting – everything is flexible and will help you grow.
Azure Pipelines is a CI/CD platform that supports containers and Kubernetes and is language/cloud independent. It provides services to set up automated build and deployment processes for applications. You can also use a function called an agent. What exactly is it about? It is a special feature that runs the tasks defined in your pipeline. In simpler terms, it will run tasks for you. This will give you more control over software installation.
The pros of Azure Pipelines
- Automated code creation and upload: You can easily automate the process of creating and sharing code. Such simplification will save you a lot of time, as Pipelines will do much of the work for you – from automating tasks and deploying new compilations to testing code quality.
- Reduced chance of errors: Thanks to quick feedback, you can spot errors early in the development cycle.
Azure Repos is responsible for providing private GIT or Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC for short) repositories that are stored in the cloud and help with code source control. In simpler terms, it is a mechanism that supports pull requests, as well as comments, and can be used as a cool tool for code review.
The pros of Azure Repos
- API integration: You can add extensions and validations from the marketplace or build your own using API or webhooks.
- Semantic code search: An aware search in the code will make sure you quickly find what you are looking for.
Azure Artifacts is the integrated management of packages such as NMP, Python, Maven, and NuGet, as well as many others from private and public sources. It allows you to integrate package sharing into your pipelines. By having a private source for packages, you can use it as a proxy with public repositories. What can it give you? First, if a package disappears from the network, there will still be a copy of it on your server. The second thing is that the pipelines will run much faster because you will have packages available locally.
The pros of Azure Artifacts
- You have everything at hand: You don’t have to waste valuable time managing more repositories because with this service, you can find everything in one place. You may also share your repositories with NPM and NuGet packages with different teams (no limit of people), and this makes collaboration much easier.
- Easy component management: With an intuitive interface, you can easily manage the software components that you use.
Azure Test Plans helps manage exploratory, continuous, or manual testing and provides a browser extension to collect feedback from business partners.
The pros of Azure Test Plans
- Improving operations: With Azure testing, you will be able to keep your applications running smoothly and avoid many potential errors that could occur. After all, software errors can cause many serious problems and stop operations for a long time.
- Test automation: You can easily automate your tests, thanks to the fact that Azure provides you with all the tools you need to do so, without having to look for additional solutions. Test Plans will help you save money and time, and the tests themselves won’t require you to write any scripts.
- Easy to manage: Releasing quality software, testing it, and monitoring it is easier than ever, thanks to resources that support different types of testing.
Advantages of Azure DevOps
- The latest features
As an Azure DevOps user, you will get access to the latest features thanks to their fast iteration.
- No more annoying updates
If you’re operating on an on-premises basis, updates can be torturous. With the Saas model, you no longer have to worry about that and can use that time for something else.
- Azure extension
If you are already using the set offered by Azure, then DevOps will be an extension you may need. Direct integration with cloud services to deploy CI/CD, Cas, or Iac code, as well as customization of workflows for Kanban, Scrum or Agile are just some of its benefits.
- Improved productivity
Breaking down the silos between developers and operations staff will improve communication and the overall collaboration between the two groups. This will result in better software development processes, as well as more efficient operations.
Disadvantages of Azure DevOps
- Infrastructure complexity
By implementing the integration of technologies and tools, you can create a complex environment, and it may be difficult to manage and thus solve problems. You may need to invest in additional hardware and software.
- Higher costs
Hiring experienced DevOps specialists, and purchasing software and hardware can cause higher expenses for a company.
- Lack of standardization
Through lack of standardization, it will be possible to have to create your customized toolkits and processes. This can increase the cost of everything and takes your valuable time.
Azure DevOps server
Azure DevOps server, also known as TFS, or Team Foundation Server, is an option outside the cloud, that is, for internal use within a company. It is the deal that companies choose when they need their data to stay in their network. It is based on SQL, which gives you access to reporting services. In addition, you can use the DevOps server for project management, testing, and application development.
Azure DevOps server benefits
- Code repository
You have an unlimited code repository, so it is possible to store your codes in one software. You can create multiple repositories, configure them and other people can access them.
- Project management
You can create software easily and quickly – from idea through development, testing, and deployment.
- Quality checking
You can easily verify possible problems that may occur during software development, which also saves your time.
- Cognitive services
This helps build intelligent applications even without knowledge of machine learning. Azure DevOps Server AI can help speed up the process of building applications.
If you’re looking for a path of faster software development processes and you want to unify teams or technologies, then you should try working with Azure DevOps. Lots of rich features can be a good option for many companies, and you should check it out by yourself.
If you want to know something about e-shop optimization on cloud, check our case study!
After carefully evaluating suppliers, we decided to try a new approach and start working with a near-shore software house. Cooperation with DSS from Hicron was something different, and it turned out to be a great success that brought added value to our company.
With HICRON’s creative ideas and fresh perspective, we reached a new level of our core platform and achieved our business goals.
Many thanks for what you did so far; we are looking forward to more in future!
Hicron is a partner who has provided excellent software development services. Their talented software engineers have a strong focus on collaboration and quality. They have helped us in achieving our goals across our cloud platforms at a good pace, without compromising on the quality of our services. Our partnership is professional and solution-focused!