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Microsoft showcases Azure DevOps Project enhancements

Microsoft continues to reach out to developers with an updated tool to help them configure a DevOps pipeline and connect it to the cloud, regardless of the app dev platform.

SEATTLE -- Got a problem with an enterprise development scheme? Microsoft recommends that you try DevOps.

As he demonstrated some of the updated features in Azure DevOps Project at the Microsoft Build 2018 conference here, Donovan Brown, Microsoft's principal DevOps manager, made clear that in this age of rapid app development and deployment, there's no way around it: DevOps is a must-have.

Azure DevOps Project enhancements

Initially offered in preview at the Microsoft Connect(); 2017 event in New York last November, Azure DevOps Project lets developers configure a DevOps pipeline and connect it to the cloud even with no prior knowledge.

With just a few steps, the tool automates the build out of a DevOps pipeline, regardless of what platform you choose to build your applications, to then develop, deploy and monitor your app in the cloud. It provisions all the necessary Azure services, provides a Git code repository, as well as integration with Microsoft's Application Insights application performance management tool, and sets up a CI/CD pipeline for deployment to Azure.

The updated Azure DevOps Project includes enhanced support for Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). It is "virtually the same thing as VSTS underneath," except it starts from the Azure portal, said Sam Guckenheimer, product owner for Visual Studio Team Services at Microsoft. Azure DevOps Project also now supports Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Service Fabric and Azure SQL Databases. It also supports the Ruby and Go programming languages, in addition to its current support for .NET, Java, Node.js, and Python.

Donovan BrownDonovan Brown

AKS, a managed Kubernetes service in Azure, can now be targeted when starting a new Node.js, .NET Core or Java-based app in DevOps Project, Guckenheimer said. Upon selection of an application language, a runtime and AKS, the DevOps Project tool creates an AKS cluster and sets up a DevOps pipeline that uses Helm Charts, which helps developers define, install and upgrade Kubernetes applications.

The enhancements to Azure DevOps Project should ease the use of application frameworks and the setup of CI/CD pipeline integration, along with monitoring for customers who have yet to adopt a third-party cloud management platform, such as those offered by Mesosphere, Pivotal and Red Hat, said Rhett Dillingham, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.

"By delivering these traditionally high-value features of cloud management platforms, Microsoft is set up to better compete for adoption of its native Azure capabilities instead of third-party platforms by customers focused on Azure and/or Azure Stack infrastructure," Dillingham said.

Microsoft embraces DevOps mentor role

Somehow, [Microsoft must] get excitement, provide a pathway for how organizations transition their assets and make it the place to turn when you are shifting to the cloud.
Thomas Murphyanalyst, Gartner

The upgrade to Azure DevOps Project follows on the heels of last week's introduction of the Microsoft DevOps Resource Center, which curates all of Microsoft's information about DevOps, such as a primer on DevOps basics and a DevOps self-assessment tool, for companies.

Over the last year, Microsoft has attempted to share as much as possible about its DevOps, Git and Agile practices to help customers start their own journeys, but the content was fragmented. With this DevOps Resource Center, Microsoft aims to curate a one-stop-shop for its own DevOps material, and for community contributions.

Microsoft is serious about DevOps -- and they have to be, said Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Gartner in Spokane, Wash.

"Somehow, they have to get excitement, provide a pathway for how organizations transition their assets and make it the place to turn when you are shifting to the cloud," Murphy said. "Too many companies think you just 'buy' DevOps or that DevOps is a tool. So, making a resource center, providing some 'patterns and practices,' is all good."

Although Microsoft has long been a strong supporter of developers, it has primarily focused on developers who work in the Microsoft environment. Now, however, Microsoft has targeted all developers on all platforms.

"I see this as a boon for all developers, but certainly for Microsoft-centric developers who are looking to expand beyond their existing experience base," said Edwin Yuen, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass. "It's an opportunity for Microsoft to place its tools and platforms on even ground for all developers."

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