If you have been developing software or have been in touch with someone who is involved in any sort of software development such as web, mobile, or desktop, you have probably heard the terms agile methodologies, and DevOps. If you are not familiar with DevOps, DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations such as deployment (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. Several DevOps aspects came from the Agile methodology. Let us discuss DevOps in little more detail.
Well, the traditional software development model is as follows:
The waterfall model was great and is still the foundation on which applications are made to this day. But, the major shortcomings of this model were as follows:
- Testing was done only after the complete development had been done.
- If a client had any feedback, it would take a lot of time and money to rebuild the application.
- It was the best method to follow if the client knew exactly what they wanted without any changes in between.
To overcome these problems, the Agile method came into existence.
But, there were problems with this method too. Here, the cons were the following:
- From developers to clients, everyone had to be in sync in order to proceed with development.
- With no clear vision of the end product, it was difficult to navigate through the right track. Often there would be setbacks which used to lead to delay in development.
- With no proper documentation, it was difficult to trace back or to cross check.
Like Agile was used because there were cons in the waterfall model, DevOps was the solution to all the problems the Agile model had. Development and operations teams never got along until DevOps came into existence. Automation is one of its main advantages due to which efficiency also increases. DevOps pays equal attention to all phases, from development to deployment.
To sum it up, DevOps is a methodology or a practice that brings together development (Dev) and operations (Ops) teams for deploying efficient applications while shortening the development life cycle overall. Now, it is clear why DevOps came into the picture. Let us see how it is related to the cloud, especially with Azure.
What is Azure DevOps?
Azure DevOps is a Software as a service (SaaS) platform from Microsoft that provides an end-to-end DevOps toolchain for developing and deploying software. It also integrates with most leading tools on the market and is a great option for orchestrating a DevOps toolchain. At DevOpsGroup, we have lots of customers who have found Azure DevOps fits their needs irrespective of their language, platform or cloud.
Azure DevOps helps developers and the team in creating and deploying applications with either Azure DevOps Service or on-premise Azure DevOps Server. For developing quality applications efficiently in organizations, it’s clear that DevOps has become increasingly critical to a team’s success and integrating with the cloud is the best possible way to increase that success rate.
What can Azure DevOps do?
Azure DevOps comprises a range of services covering the full development life-cycle. At the time of writing these are:
- Azure Boards: agile planning, work item tracking, visualization and reporting tool.
- Azure Pipelines: a language, platform and cloud agnostic CI/CD platform with support for containers or Kubernetes.
- Azure Repos: provides cloud-hosted private git repositories.
- Azure Artifacts: provides integrated package management with support for Maven, npm, Python and NuGet package feeds from public or private sources.
- Azure Test Plans: provides an integrated planned and exploratory testing solution.
Azure DevOps can also be used to orchestrate third-party tools. One of the best things about Azure DevOps is how flexible it is. It’s extensible (via a Marketplace) and flexible enough to leverage your existing tools. For example, if you wanted to use Azure Resource Manager for infrastructure as code you can, but equally you can provision and manage Azure infrastructure using third-party tools such as Ansible, Puppet and Terraform.
Why Azure DevOps
Cloud Computing offers Software as a Service, and it does promote the entire software development process becoming service oriented. With the majority of businesses shifting to the cloud, it is reasonable to say that methods like DevOps can be an added plus to all these companies. It removes the technical and bureaucratic hurdles that cause delays in the deployment of software. Let us now talk about the symbiotic relationship between cloud and DevOps.
It is known that most companies develop apps in the cloud because they get the infrastructure and they only pay for what they use, along with other benefits. With the addition of DevOps to Azure, development has become much easier and secure. You can choose either to use services or to work on premise; you have Azure DevOps Server for that.
Different tools were used to unite the process with DevOps, such as Jenkins, Selenium, etc. Whereas in Azure DevOps, you have a service that gives you the benefits of those tools in a single platform. In a nutshell, Azure DevOps is practicing the unification of developers and IT operations while developing apps in Azure.
Azure DevOps comes with two options:
- Azure DevOps Services
- Azure DevOps Server
Let us take a look at the differences between the two.
Azure DevOps Services Vs. Server
Both the Azure DevOps services and the Azure DevOps server were known as Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and Team Foundation Server (TFS), respectively. They provide environments that support Git, Agile tools, and continuous integration. Let us see the differences between them:
Following are the services provided by Azure DevOps:
Azure Pipeline is a combination of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) which you can use to create and test your code automatically and give access to other users. You can produce consistent and quality code with CI and CD. You can work with programming languages like Python, Ruby, Java, PHP, C#, and Go. To use Azure Pipelines, your source code must be stored in a version control system such as Git.
Azure boards make it easy to track tasks, bugs, and features. There are three types of work items:
An epic work item tracks requirements or features; issue tracks bugs or smaller changes; and task tracks even smaller works done. It is easy to add or update your work status and, with a drag-and-drop feature, you can prioritize your works.
Azure Artifacts is a store that has all your artifacts that were produced while developing and deploying. In simple terms, Artifacts are executable files, i.e., they do not contain any code. You can use multiple feeds to organize and control access to your packages. Are wondering what a feed is? A feed is a container for packages that helps in consuming and publishing. Azure Artifacts provide a fast, secure, and easy feed of binary packages.
Azure Artifacts ensure that your pipelines are fully integrated package management. You can also create packages like Maven, npm, and NuGet. It includes a free usage tier of 2 GB.
Before talking about Azure Repos, let’s, first, discuss what a version control system is. Version control systems are software that help you track changes that you have made in your code, by taking snapshots of your files. One popular example is Git. Azure Repos is a collection of version control tools which are used to manage your code and provides two types of version control:
- Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC)
Git is a distributed version control system which means that the local copy that you have is a complete repository allowing you to work offline as well. In TFVC, the historical data is kept only on the server since it is a centralized version control system.
Azure Test Plans
You can improve the quality of your code by testing it. With Azure Test Plans, you can test your code manually or exploratorily as well. You can request, provide, and track feedback. You can perform unit and functional testing. Running tests continuously is also possible with Continuous testing.
I hope this article has inspired you to explore more about Azure DevOps. If so, I have an article for you where we will get hands on experience with Azure DevOps.