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What Is Azure DevOps?

People usually get scared of the term "DevOps," but it really isn't that complicated. To put it simply: DevOps is not a tool; it is not a programming language; it is a Philosophy or a Process. There are many ways of creating a software product nowadays. Before DevOps, enterprises used traditional methods to develop software. Many projects failed due to the development and operations teams being siloed. This delayed the entire project for weeks and even months.

The goal of DevOps is to deliver improved software releases with fewer errors rapidly. Organizations use different programs and tools to develop software using DevOps. Microsoft Azure is one of the most prominent and effective DevOps platforms that you can use for managing, sharing, coding, testing, and deploying your project. In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about Microsoft Azure DevOps, including what it is, as well as its core features, different variants, benefits, cost, and much more. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it!

What Is DevOps:

DevOps is the process of combining the software development and IT operations teams to create software-related products. Before DevOps, the development and IT teams were isolated. They had different ideas and goals. The operation team took too much time giving feedback on errors and bugs found in the code. All this resulted in delayed projects. The introduction of DevOps has unified the development and operations team in all aspects ranging from planning and designing to building and monitoring.

DevOps focuses on continuous integration and delivery to automate the merging and deployment of code. It promotes frequent code versions making it easy to detect code defects and develop software at a faster pace. However, doing all this and managing the DevOps life cycle effectively without a reliable tool is quite a daunting task. That’s where Microsoft Azure DevOps comes in.

What Is Azure DevOps:

First thing first, let's understand what Azure DevOps is and what it is used for. Basically, it's a service offered by Microsoft's Azure cloud computing program for DevOps. The Azure platform offers a wide range of tools that are essential in managing software development projects using the DevOps methodology. It enables teams to collaborate in real-time to plan work structure, collaborate, code, test, and deploy, allowing them to develop software programs at a relatively higher pace. Microsoft Azure comes in various services, e.g., IaaS (Infrastructure as a service), SaaS (Software as a service), and PaaS (Platform as a service).

Azure DevOps Core Services & Features:

Azure DevOps is a platform that offers many services and features for end-to-end project development. It has many powerful tools for DevOps teams to enhance their productivity, including dashboard control, source control, plan and track your work, continuous integration and deployment, etc. It also offers 5 core services using the client/server model. These include Azure Boards, Azure Pipelines, Azure Repos, Azure Test Plan, and Azure Artifacts. Let’s take a look at all these core services in detail.

1- Azure Boards:

Azure boards provide software development teams with a rich set of easy-to-use and customizable tools for completing their project. It provides a wide variety of capabilities, including built-in support for Agile, Kanban process, Scrum, dashboards, etc. Azure boards provide several hubs, e.g., work items, boards, backlogs, and sprints (for scrum).

Each hub provides a set of tools to update, add, link, organize, track and assign your work projects. You can also connect Github with Azure boards. Doing this enables linking between Github pull requests and commits. You can use Azure boards to plan and track your work while using Github software development.

2- Azure Pipelines:

Azure Pipelines is a combination of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to build and test your code. Continuous integration is the practice of automating testing and merging code to catch bugs in the early stages. Continuous delivery is a process in which code is built, tested, and deployed to assure quality.

Azure pipeline allows you to explore and implement a wide range of community-build features. It even allows you to deploy your program to any cloud services, including Amazon Web Services, Azure, and GCP. Azure pipelines provide free parallel jobs for every open source project and support almost all languages, including JavaScript, Android, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, C#, and C++.

3- Azure Repos:

Azure Repos provide users with a set of version control tools to manage their code regardless of their project size. Version control systems are software that takes a snapshot of your code files and saves it permanently. As you edit your code, you can use version control to track changes you make in your code and save your work.

Azure Repos provide two types of version control: Git and Team Foundation version control (TFVC). It provides unlimited Git repositories, pull requests, and code search. Moreover, it can securely connect with and push your codes into Git and TFVC repositories. You can use any editor or IDE, e.g., React Native, IntelliJ, Sublime, Visual Studio, etc.

4- Azure Test Plans:

Azure test plans provide software development teams with powerful tools to produce quality work and promote collaboration throughout the project. It provides easy-to-use management solutions required for planning, testing, user acceptance testing, and gathering feedback. Azure test plans allow users to improve their code by using planned and exploratory services.

Azure pipelines are integrated with Azure test plans for continuous integration and continuous deployment to support testing. Some of the key benefits of using azure test plans include:

  • Capturing rich data scenarios for discovered defects or bugs in code

  • Improving your code quality

  • Release your work while getting end-to-end traceability.

5- Azure Artifacts:

Azure Artifacts is fully integrated with azure pipelines. It allows the software teams to publish, build artifacts, deploy packages, or integrate files. Moreover, it allows teams to create and share npm, Maven, NuGet, and Python packages from public and private sources. Using azure artifacts, you can share your code efficiently across teams and enterprises.

It provides you with universal artifacts to manage all your package types, including Maven, NuGet, etc. Azure artifacts have built-in CI/CD and versioning to add/share packages and codes to pipelines. Your packages are protected and backed up by Azure SLA, and you can easily access them with Azure pipeline tools.

Azure DevOps Variants:

Azure DevOps provides its users with a wide variety of rich features and powerful tools. It helps you plan, track, code, test, add and share your software application projects. Azure DevOps provides two variants to choose from: Azure DevOps Services and Azure DevOps Server. Azure services are based on cloud services. Meanwhile, the Azure server provides on-premises service.

The Cloud-based Azure DevOps service:

Cloud-based services are scalable, reliable, easy, and free to use. It provides access to build and deployment servers. Cloud service allows you to set up your work environment quickly with ease. Moreover, it offers maintenance-free processes, traceability, and security. Cloud Azure DevOps is monitored 24/7 by the Microsoft team and backed up by SLA. It allows you to upload and share your code while tracking your work using different methods.

The Azure DevOps Server:

Azure DevOps Server is hosted on-premises and is built on SQL Server. Azure DevOps Server enables cross-functional teams to work efficiently by integrating with your existing IDE. Although Azure DevOps Server and Azure DevOps services both provide similar features but there are some differences. Cloud services do not support integration with SQL servers. Azure DevOps Server Express is a free version for individuals or small teams of five. You can easily install it on your laptop without any dedicated server. Simply upgrade your Azure DevOps Server when your team has grown beyond 5 people.

Microsoft Azure DevOps Benefits:

Microsoft Azure DevOps provides DevOps teams with a variety of tools and features. However, the biggest Azure DevOps benefit is its centralized infrastructure. In the past, enterprises did not have access to such tools to carry out their projects in an efficient way. Azure DevOps allows timely access to new features, flexibility, and reliability. Most importantly, Microsoft Azure DevOps is easy to use and boosts your productivity.

Azure DevOps Pricing/Cost:

Azure DevOps is free for all open-source projects and small projects with up to five users. For teams with ten or more users, DevOps costs $30 per month. Azure pipelines for 1 free Microsoft-hosted with 1800 minutes per month for CI/CD job. For a 1 free self-hosted, unlimited job minutes per month. Pricing starts at $40 per extra Microsoft-hosted CI/CD parallel job with unlimited minutes. For extra self-hosted jobs, pricing starts at $15 per extra job. You can either pay monthly or buy 3-year commitment software licenses.

Final Thoughts:

We hope this article clears all your questions regarding Microsoft Azure DevOps. Many companies and DevOps teams have switched over to Azure DevOps. Azure DevOps allows enterprises to make huge progress and increase their productivity. IIInigence is one of the leading companies providing Azure DevOps Services. We offer a wide range of DevOps and Automation services to help businesses go beyond their potential. We have gathered some of the best Microsoft Azure DevOps engineers from different countries to help our clients. So, what are you waiting for? Team up with us, and let’s take your business to the next level!

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