Azure DevOps – Why It’s A Big Deal For Microsoft And The Community


Microsoft has recently announced the rebranding of Visual Studio Team Service (VSTS) to Azure DevOps. VSTS, an extension of Visual Studio – the flagship integrated development environment from Microsoft – enabled architects, developers, and testers to collaboratively design, develop and test software.

Though it may seem like yet another rebranding exercise, Azure DevOps is much more than that. It is a strategic move from Microsoft with an aim to establish itself as a segment leader in the DevOps market.

VSTS is a decade-old product that was primarily created to attract enterprise development teams building complex Windows applications. It had all the ingredients from source code control to automated testing to deliver an integrated experience of application lifecycle management (ALM).

DevOps as a term was not coined when the product teams at Microsoft conceived the idea of VSTS. Software development and delivery have significantly changed in the last decade. The evolution of infrastructure as code, immutable infrastructure, continuous integration, continuous deployment, continuous testing and continuous monitoring have changed the face of ALM. The software release cadence has shifted from once in six months to tens of deployments in an hour. The software is shipped at a rapid pace than ever. Customers wanted tools to perform faster deployments that include manual and automated testing which eventually resulted in DevOps.

Azure DevOps enables Microsoft to align with the changing dynamics of the industry. Here are five reasons why Azure DevOps is a big deal for both Microsoft and the ecosystem –

1. Get the best out of Github acquisition

Source code control management (SCM) is the foundation of DevOps. With Github in its kitty, Microsoft wants to maximize its investment by connecting the dots across Github and Azure. Team Foundation Services, the original SCM available in VSTS, is slowly giving way to Github. Microsoft is doing everything to ensure that developers, operators and testers get the best possible experience in taking the source code of Github repositories all the way to the deployment target – Azure compute services delivered through virtual machines and containers.

Microsoft wants Azure DevOps to deliver best CI/CD experience for Github projects.

2. Going beyond Windows and Visual Studio

Visual Studio has been one of the cash cows for Microsoft. For two decades, it enjoyed the same fanfare as Windows and Office franchises. Microsoft has been successful in taking Office beyond Windows to Mac and the web. It consciously moved away from positioning Azure as the platform for .NET and Windows applications. By dropping the Windows moniker from Azure, it made a statement that its public cloud can run any OS and any platform.

But, Visual Studio is still predominantly associated with Windows application development. No PHP developer and a Golang developer would want to use Visual Studio and VSTS for managing their projects.

Through the rebranding of VSTS to a more generic brand, Microsoft is trying to make a statement that its toolchain is not just meant for .NET developers. The open source variant of Visual Studio branded as VS Code is already a huge hit among open source developers.

Azure DevOps may attract new age developers that typically don’t associate Visual Studio with modern application development.

3. Compete better with AWS

During the last three years, Amazon has built a parallel universe of development tools. AWS OpsWorks, AWS Cloud9 IDE, AWS CodeStar, AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodeBuild and AWS CodePipeline deliver end-to-end DevOps experience on AWS.

Microsoft lacked an integrated DevOps story for Azure. The masterstroke of acquiring Github has put the company in the forefront of DevOps. By tweaking and aligning existing VSTS assets, Microsoft finally has a compelling offering in the form of Azure DevOps.

It also got the ammunition to compete with some of the leading companies in the DevOps segment such as HashiCorp, CloudBees, Atlassian and Xebia Labs.

4. Make Azure the preferred cloud for open source projects

Microsoft has turned all the knobs to make Azure the best platform for open source development. With Azure DevOps, it’s taking it to the next level.

Developers get cloud-hosted pipelines for Linux, macOS, and Windows with unlimited minutes and 10 free parallel jobs for their open source projects. This is undoubtedly a big deal for implementing CI/CD projects. Even though the pipelines support other cloud platforms including AWS and GCP, they have better integration with Azure.

With Xamarin, Github, VS Code and Azure, Microsoft has some of the best toolchains to develop and deploy open source projects.

5. Drive consumption of Azure Compute

Compute and storage are the new currency of the platform vendors. All roads in the public cloud lead to compute. Every public cloud vendor aligns the services and offerings to drive additional consumption of compute, and Microsoft is not an exception.

Microsoft has four different compute services – virtual machines (IaaS), platform (PaaS), containers (CaaS) and functions (FaaS). Azure DevOps lands application deployment artifacts in one of these compute services directly increasing the consumption. Developers and operators using Azure DevOps will indirectly utilize Azure Storage and Compute service. Services such as Azure VMs, Azure App Service, Azure Container Registry, Azure Kubernetes Service and Azure Service Fabric will experience increased usage and consumption which will directly impact the revenue.

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