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Why Azure DevOps is a game changer

Over the last five years, I’ve seen Microsoft change as an organisation. While Azure has been around longer, I’ve only been working with the platform since 2012. I’ve seen how Azure has developed and evolved almost organically in line with Microsoft and their vision. It is also evident that there has been a shift in the company’s technology focus to cultural and how it has shaped Microsoft and how they are making a difference in today’s world.

With this, let me talk about Azure DevOps. Azure DevOps is not just about technology. It is a combination of the best of technology and the application of best practices. It is about culture and a change in the way we do things, as well as our mindset. Microsoft recently launched this because they understand that 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. Further to this, Microsoft has shown their commitment to being the largest contributor on GitHub.

So… Azure DevOps. What is it and why is it a game changer? I set the context above to show how Microsoft have changed and how they want to make difference in many areas and with Azure DevOps. It’s not just about doing things better in Azure but across any cloud and any platform, regardless of application. If you want to break it down, think it as a next-generation VSTS with more integration and with Azure giving you the power build and deliver more efficiently. And the best part is you can get started today and you can try or test it for free.

Post the announcement just over 24 hours ago, I started playing with Azure DevOps and I thought I’d touch on how easy it is to use Azure DevOps. I’ve shown it to those who use other tools and it’s been met with surprise, curiosity and the fact that you can really deploy on any cloud and platform. The other point to note is, it’s easy to use so there’s no real big learning curve. Even those not familiar with VSTS, quickly got hold of it.

If you’re all about CI/CD, Azure Pipelines will be your playground allowing you to deploy to Azure, AWS, and GCP and has native container support. And no, it’s not just Windows, bring on Linux and Mac. In addition, if you’re creating an Open Source Project, you’ll get unlimited build minutes from Azure Pipelines, further showcasing the power of the tools, Azure as well Microsoft’s confidence and commitment to developers and having clouds and tools for all.

Adding that new pipeline is as easy as selecting your location, confirming and connecting to your repository. From there, it will analyze the source and depending on the application, make recommendations on templates you can use. Once you’ve selected your template, you can then modify the code if necessary before saving and running.

If you want to build applications, you can use a Microsoft-hosted agent located within the agent pools. You don’t have to worry about firing up your own Virtual Machines. You can select Windows, Linux, and MacOS agents. The capability is within reach. All you need to focus on is the code.

You may be wondering, what if there are specific scenarios such as security requirements or whether a bespoke agent is required so the code is only in that place. This is fully supported and you have the ability to run and deploy. Adding tasks to your pipeline is just as easy. If you want containers, you don’t have to be a Kubernetes expert to deploy to a Kubernetes cluster either. Using the interface, it’s easy as filling in the configuration and simple kubectl commands. The point, is here that you can take the code and deploy it easily and effectively.

The UI is also really intuitive and within a couple of minutes, you can be on your way to deploying your app all from one interface. Looking at the screenshot I took above, there’s a lot more than just building out pipelines. You can plan out your work with Azure Boards, set up dashboards, reporting and use the built-in tools to get things done and be more agile. There’s the ability to visualise your flow and view traceability through the user interface on your board. You can even create branches in the board. Azure Artifacts which allows you to share, manage and create your packages with your team and it’s all in one place. Azure Repos is your private Git Repository service available to you. Last, there are Test Plans available where you can hold and manage all of your test data.

I’ve just touched on the capabilities of Azure DevOps. I would recommend that it will be best for you to try it and see how it can work for you. After taking all of that in, it’s easy to understand why this is such a game changer and why Microsoft are really making a big impact in many areas.

So how do you get started? Check out: