5 Reasons to Use Azure DevOps

March 21, 2019 Evan Riser

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Azure DevOps and you may be wondering– what is Azure DevOps, anyway?

Azure DevOps is effectively a rebranding of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) which is the online version of Team Foundation Server. That’s all well and good, but what on earth does Azure DevOps/VSTS/TFS do?

Originally a source code management tool where teams could share and work on code collectively, TFS grew to become a platform where development projects could be managed, tested and released.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “My company is not a dev shop, so why would we be looking at Azure DevOps?” the answer is in the name, DevOps. The advent of DevOps and the concept of infrastructure-as-code has broken down the wall between development and operations and, with it, the adoption of operations by new tools.

Here are 5 reasons to consider Azure DevOps for your organization:

Collaboration

Sharing is at the heart of Azure DevOps. Being able to host and manage code centrally is key to any organizational goal which involves optimization. Even if the only code your team has is a collection of PowerShell or VB scripts that you use to provision accounts or manage servers, storing that code in Azure DevOps will provide a central location from which to manage that code.  Versioning code is an important dimension to code management and whether you want to use Team Foundation Version control or GIT, Azure DevOps has you covered.

Work Items

Even if you don’t have any code to manage, you can coordinate the management of your systems with work Items.  Work items represent some “thing”– whether that’s a server, or project risk or system bug is up to you– but the power comes when you create the work items in the context of a process template. Using a process template, you can model your work items around an Agile Framework (which works well for software development) or the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), which works well for systems administration. No matter how you arrange them, work items can help your team divide your complex systems into manageable workloads.

Continuous Integration and Delivery

For software driven organization, Azure DevOps provides a robust platform on which you can deploy your solutions in a pipeline allowing for continuous integration and deployment.  Whether you are deploying a solution hosted in Azure or even a solution hosted in AWS, the Azure DevOps CICD pipeline can take your solution from development to delivery.

With an extensive marketplace for plugins and integrations, infrastructure-as-code can also be incorporated into the pipeline such that the ambitious systems administrator can automate far-reaching changes to their environments from a single location.

Open Platform

Azure Devops provides extensive integration with industry and community tools. It is far from the closed-off single vendor solution that was the early version of TFS. As noted above, there is a marketplace which makes hundreds of extensions available, so if Azure Develops doesn’t do something out of the box, odds are a tool exists in the market which does.

In this area of openness, Microsoft has been a clear leader in promoting cooperation even with competitors, which is evident in the marketplace where you can find integration extensions ranging from AWS to Slack to ServiceNow. All of this integration is done with the customer in mind as Azure DevOps seeks to be one of many possible tools in your bag for managing your code development needs.

Become a Software Company

In the beginning of this post, I alluded to an audience which may not be in the business of building software. However, the industry trend is shifting toward the idea presented by Satya Nadella which is “every company needs to be a software company”.

In this quest to out-perform the competition and achieve differentiation there has been a rise to a new kind of business operating model – a Cloud Operating Model (COM). The Cloud Operating Model seeks to brining business leaders and technology managers and teams together to specify how technology is implemented throughout a business.

A measure of a successful company is how it is harnessing technology and how that is both an offensive and defensive strategy.  This is vital a world where there is a long list of established businesses going from glory to bust. Building a Cloud Operating Model and making it the backbone of the organization’s IT infrastructure will set every business on the right path.

To really succeed, there needs to be more communication and collaboration across the whole enterprise, so we wanted this a guide to stimulate discussion, as future technology decisions are made.  When non-technical and technical audiences come together, there will be a mutual understanding of what is on the other’s mind.

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