With Microsoft's GitHub acquisition set to close this year, the company is turning its attention toward software development process improvement with the rollout of Azure DevOps. A suite of project management-oriented tools, the Azure product encompasses the full software development lifecycle, from concept to delivery.
The group of applications are platform agnostic and customers can use them across different frameworks, platforms or clouds, according to the announcement. Azure DevOps includes Pipelines, which automates builds and deployments through continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD); Boards, for project management and work tracking; Artifacts, to "create, host and share packages" across teams; Repos, which offers private, cloud-based Git repositories; and Test Plans, which allows for exploratory testing.
The move brings about a new era for Microsoft's Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and works to maintain customer interest in Azure products. Azure DevOps will increase the VSTS footprint, allowing customers to migrate legacy data center applications to Azure, as opposed to other cloud providers, said T.J. Randall, VP of customer success at XebiaLabs, in an email to CIO Dive.
DevOps is all the rage lately, as companies work to close the gap between lines of business and produce tech products more efficiently.
By working together, employees are aligned to a product, no longer segmented into development and operations. When the groups are not aligned, it places the onus of software creation and deployment on different parties, creating performance gaps and room for miscommunication.
Azure DevOps is certainly a catchier name than VSTS. But the move also represents Microsoft's adoption of the developer mindset, a key part of its GitHub acquisition. Microsoft is taking advantage of process operations, which have become best practice for industry. Attention has turned toward how work is done, not the tools required.
The company has customer transformation in mind. To stay competitive, organizations have to find new ways of work appropriate for their business. Some are adopting best practices as guiding principles, as seen with the College Board's North Stars, which center around DevOps, agile and CI/CD, among others.
A more cloud-oriented DevOps process is up against a legacy mindset. Traditionally, applications delivery goes through development, QA, staging and product. But in the cloud, those initial three stages become "weird," Randall said. "The cloud is the cloud — besides zoning off different areas for different users, it's not the same as a traditional data center."
The change in the way teams work is a hurdle Microsoft has to help customers overcome. It's "easy" for developers to use shiny, new tools, Randall said. But business, which entails the people and process side of DevOps, is change averse.
What will be "interesting to watch is how much of the 'old business practice' gets brought into the new Azure DevOps tools," he said.