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What is Azure DevOps

What is Azure DevOps? Tools, Benefits, Usage, and Pricing

Azure DevOps, formerly known as Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS), is a complete set of tools and services that help DevOps teams manage production environments and automate application delivery via Azure. It promotes the use of DevOps concepts in on-premises and cloud environments. Azure DevOps provides the following services:

  • Azure Boards: It supports agile planning work item tracking and provides visual dashboards and reporting capabilities.
  • Azure Pipelines: This versatile CI/CD solution is compatible with various languages and platforms. It includes containerization and Kubernetes.
  • Azure Repos: The third service in the list offers cloud-hosted GIT repositories and TFVC for version control.
  • Azure Artifacts: AA streamlines package management, accommodating Maven, NPM, Python, and NuGet packages.
  • Azure Test Plans: They integrate testing, encompassing both manual and exploratory testing.

Microsoft also has a localized version of Azure DevOps for on-premises deployment called Azure DevOps Server. It replicates the functions and capabilities of the cloud-based solution. This all-inclusive platform promotes operations across other top DevOps tools and has end-to-end software lifecycle management.

5 Important Azure DevOps Services and Tools

Azure DevOps offers an overall range of services and tools. It empowers software development teams to simplify and optimize their projects. Let’s delve into the services mentioned earlier and their critical components but in a detailed way:

Azure Boards

Azure Boards is one essential tool that provides developers with an interactive and adaptable environment for managing software development projects. It has native support for:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Agile processes
  • Calendar views
  • Integrated reporting
  • Easy-to-configure dashboard. 

This flexibility helps teams to create a project management strategy that meets their specific demands and deadlines.

Azure Repos

Azure Repos is a version control system important for administering application code. It’s a necessary software development procedure that helps teams monitor code modifications over time. Every time a change takes place, this system takes a snapshot of the code, preserving a record that can be used later for coordination and change recall.

Azure Pipeline

With powerful automation, Azure Pipelines can develop and test code automatically and make it available to various projects. It provides strong support for a variety of project kinds and languages. The following is a list of ways Azure Pipeline in Azure DevOps helps software development teams:

  • It allows for continuous delivery and integration (CI/CD) pipelines, allowing for the efficient development, testing, and deployment of code to desired environments. Through this, team members will always have access to high-quality code.
  • Azure Pipelines stands out for its utility since it supports all major languages and platforms and integrates with them easily. It can be used with various operating systems and open-source development projects due to its adaptability.
  • It also allows for simultaneous deployments to many targets.
  • Major programming languages, including Node.js, Python, Ruby, Java, PHP, C#, C++, Go, Xcode, .NET, Android, and iOS, can all have their code automatically built and tested using Azure Pipelines.
  • To develop, test, and deliver code to a deployment target, it adapts continuous integration, testing, and delivery. It manages several project kinds. Any open-source project can support up to ten concurrent jobs, making Azure DevOps a very satisfying and productive development environment.

Azure Test Plans

Azure Test Plans improve code quality and teamwork by providing strong testing tools for the development process. It is a user-friendly, browser-driven platform that makes the following easier:

  • User acceptability testing
  • Automated and manual testing
  • Stakeholder feedback gathering.
  • Preservation of code quality
  • Quick identification and resolution of any problems.

Azure Artifacts

Azure Artifacts has a centralized package control that simplifies code sharing and administration. Developers can share and publish packages privately, among their colleagues, or even throughout their company. With support for npm, NuGet, Maven, and Python packages, among others, it ensures flexibility and compatibility with a wide range of development needs.

Benefits of Azure DevOps for Developers

  • Better Team Collaboration: Distributed teams can collaborate seamlessly owing to Azure DevOps. Because they may work in any coding language and from any location, developers no longer require .NET code standardization. Git integration makes progress monitoring easier, particularly in collaborative projects involving multiple teams.
  • Cost-Savings: When it comes to continuous maintenance, Azure DevOps is less expensive than on-premises systems like Azure DevOps Server because it is a cloud-based platform. Teams no longer have to pay for server upgrades and maintenance because they always have access to the most recent version as long as their subscription is ongoing.
  • Advanced Azure DevOps Features: It offers automated build and release capabilities with integrated quality assurance, meeting the needs of Agile, DevOps, and continuous development models. By automating processes, errors that may arise from manual labor are reduced, and efficiency is increased.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Business stakeholders may easily input project requirements, track project progress, and report issues from any location by logging into Azure DevOps. Stakeholder involvement increases project success rates by guaranteeing that the aims of the business are aligned.
  • Wider Accessibility: All current Visual Studio subscriptions include access to Azure DevOps services. Regardless of whether they founded the organization or were invited by others, subscribers can use these services across any number of organizations they are a part of.

Azure DevOps facilitates improved stakeholder engagement, collaboration, and cost-effectiveness by streamlining development processes. This extensive toolkit is a priceless resource for contemporary software development teams.

Drawbacks of Azure DevOps

While this DevOps offers numerous benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential drawbacks:

  • Complex Setup: Azure includes many important tool sets, all of which need to be set up and configured according to the requirements of the project. Workflow disruptions may happen from missing or improperly configured pieces. 
  • Microsoft Orientation: Since it easily interacts with Microsoft platforms and products, it’s a great option for companies primarily using Microsoft products. However, Azure DevOps may have some difficulties for companies that depend on various dynamic integrations. 
  •  UI May Seem Complicated to Some: Due to its broad feature set and heavy feature set, Azure may be a challenging learning curve for some. It could be tricky for some users to navigate and utilize regularly due to the less intuitive UI.
  • Data Location: Cloud-based project data is stored in the cloud by Azure DevOps, which could be problematic for businesses with strict data location guidelines. The on-premises server version can be a substitute, guaranteeing that data stays on a reliable network.

Who Can Use Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps is useful for the following set of professionals.

  • Analysts: Azure DevOps lets analysts track work items, enabling flexible documentation and efficient procedures. They can store records in HTML format, support a variety of file kinds, and construct templates to streamline and standardize activities.
  • Software Testers: The platform helps software testers by allowing them to enter test scripts and manage acceptance tests. Extensive quality assurance is ensured by the ability to follow test histories over time, thanks to advanced reporting options.
  • Programmers: It offers automated builds, source control, and integrated unit testing, and programmers find it useful. It isn’t a programming environment per se, but it integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio quickly enough to make using its tools for development productive.
  • Project Managers in IT: Azure can be used by IT project managers, team managers, and stakeholders in projects to track progress and monitor performance. It makes scheduling work items easier, dividing large projects into manageable iterations, and allocating jobs to team members.

Azure DevOps can produce automated reports that improve project management and decision-making, such as burndown charts, product backlogs, and Kanban boards. This versatile toolkit is necessary to guarantee effective teamwork and project success.

Azure DevOps Pricing

Several pricing options are available for Azure DevOps, including a free version with Visual Studio subscriptions:

  • After the first five users are free, the Basic Plan costs $6 (USD) per user per month and grants access to Azure Pipelines, Azure Boards, Azure Repos, and Azure Artifacts.
  • The Basic Plan version offers ten free parallel jobs for Azure Pipelines to open-source teams and unlimited monthly minutes for self-hosted jobs. Costing $52 (USD) per user per month.
  • The Basic + Test Plan adds extensive testing tools such as user acceptability testing, test preparation, execution, and centralized reporting to the features of the Basic Plan.
  • Users can select individual services like Azure Pipelines, which comes with one free CI/CD job hosted by Microsoft and one free self-hosted job.
  • Additional parallel work costs $15 for self-hosted jobs and $40 (USD) for Microsoft-hosted tasks.
  • Azure Artifacts provides 2 GB of free storage after that, with a $2 (USD) fee for each extra GB. It smoothly connects with Azure Pipelines. It supports various package types, including NuGet, Maven, npm, and Python, for more efficient development and deployment procedures.

Get Started with Azure DevOps Today

Azure DevOps offers a powerful combination of tools and services that empowers software development teams to streamline their projects efficiently. Its diverse range of offerings, from project management and version control to testing and package management. 

Azure DevOps caters to the needs of analysts, software testers, programmers, and project managers. Pricing options are available to suit various organizational requirements, making it accessible and flexible.

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Overall Guide on Azure DevOps