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A Complete Guide to Components and Features of Azure DevOps Services

DevOps is the buzzword today because every organization wants to implement it in their business functions. Whereas Azure is a big name in cloud solutions. Both play a significant role in supporting business processes. Together they offer robust services to help companies integrate tools and services for software development and management. Additionally, Azure supports DevOps, and together they unravel features and services unfathomable for an organization before. Azure DevOps services offer a framework for collaborating and managing major business operations. It also offers solutions such as deployment, version control, CI/CD, project management, and much more.  

To study how Azure and DevOps work in unison, we’ll first understand the meaning and concept behind each term. 

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud services vendor that caters to various cloud computational needs of an organization. Developers and IT professionals laid the foundation for Microsoft Azure. The primary functions of Azure include creating, deploying, and management of apps through a global data network. Some of the main domains of Azure include the following: 

  • Compute 
  • Storage 
  • Networking 
  • Databases 
  • Tracking and Monitoring 

Now that you have learned the basics of Azure let’s move on to DevOps. 

What is DevOps?

DevOps refers to the integration of development and operations teams to collaborate and improve the productivity of major business functions. DevOps also includes automation of manual tasks and overall workflow to measure the app performance and its effect on the business. 

The combined efforts of developers and operations teams enable continuous delivery and productivity of the app/software development process. Thus, the DevOps team plays a significant role in app development in this volatile software market. 

What is Azure DevOps?

The integration of Microsoft Azure and DevOps services is called Azure DevOps services. Microsoft also offers Azure DevOps services for cloud and on-premises solutions. 

There are various benefits of Azure DevOps and its uses. It is a helpful software development solution because it: 

  • Encourages collaboration among different functions within an organization 
  • Enables teams to plan their workflow 
  • Allows collaboration on code development
  • Helps teams to build, design, and deploy apps 

Apart from this, Azure DevOps services uplift the culture and processes within a team to bring different stakeholders on one page. It also encourages collaborative efforts between developers, contributors, and project managers to streamline the software development process. It creates a fast-paced and agile environment for the stakeholders for software development instead of a conventional SDLC model. 

Difference Between Microsoft DevOps and Azure DevOps

Appearing deceitfully similar, Microsoft DevOps and Azure DevOps are two distinct entities with inherently different natures, properties, and functionalities. The two are often related but, in a broader term, quite dissimilar. To fortify our aforementioned claim, let’s have a close look at the two concepts categorically.

Microsoft DevOps

Microsoft DevOps is a dynamic alliance between development and operations teams where a paradigm coalesces with cutting-edge technology, practices, and tools to empower organizations. This alliance aims to develop flawless software with impeccable quality and performance. From software ideation to development and delivery, the transformative approach of DevOps uses tools like Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and Team Foundation Server (TFS). These tools and technologies work in an intricate balance to automate the software development and deployment process.

Azure DevOps

Au contraire, the curated suite of services by Microsoft, and Azure DevOps, cements its foundation to optimize Azure cloud. It encapsulates a wide array of services and tools, such as Azure Boards, Azure Repos, Azure Test Plans, and Azure Artifacts, that inherently work in a combined fashion. Together, these tools and services synergistically collaborate to automate the software development and deployment process.
In essence, while Microsoft DevOps refers to a broader concept of end-to-end services that develop and deploy software, Azure DevOps caters to a specific set of practices and services that find its grounding in Azure Cloud. The difference lies in the specificity of the tools and practices that are used to automate an entire software journey from development to deployment.

What are the fundamental components of Azure DevOps Services?

So, I am sure you must know by now what Azure DevOps is and its purpose. But let’s see what the key components of Azure DevOps services are. 

There are five Azure components: 

  • Boards 
  • Repos 
  • Pipelines 
  • Test plans 
  • Artifacts 

Below is a review of the Azure component and its usage.   

1.Azure Boards 

It helps software developers track and monitor their work essentials such as stories, issues, threats, bugs, and other vulnerabilities. Azure boards also find a quick fix for all the problems associated with work items and essentials. It helps various teams and departments work on a single project or task by enhancing communication skills. Therefore, it is an excellent medium for tracking project performance as it progresses. 

2.Azure Repos 

Azure Repos comprises different version control systems. These control systems make code management possible and convenient. Whether it is a small project or a big one, Azure repos work best for it. 

These version controls enable developers to manage security and other relevant app development services single-handedly. It also monitors the app development process and tracks down bug fixes. This feature then presents you with the suggested changes it makes to the review process. Thus, it is up to the developer’s discretion to accept or reject those suggestions. 

There are two types of versions of controls: 

  • GIT or Scattered Control Version 
  • TFVC or Central Version Control 

Some of the notable of these version control systems (Repos) include:  

  • Direct connection to your desired Git clients 
  • Semantic code search options 
  • Branch policies that not only protect branches but also maintain code quality 
  • API Integration 
  • Maximum collaboration for improved coding 
  • Automation with CI/CD Pipelines.

3.Azure CI/CD Pipelines 

It is a CI/CD tool that supports automated building, testing, and deployment. Azure pipelines are flexible enough to work with diverse languages and projects. Moreover, these pipelines test and deploy your code through a combination of CI and CD for any number of targets. 

There are generally two approaches for using the Azure pipelines: 

  • Approach 1 involves defining the pipelines with YAML syntax 
  • Approach 2 involves defining through a classic interface  

4.Azure Test Plans 

DevOps provides these special services for commercial use and users only. Azure DevOps tools are rich, flexible, robust, and essential for the development team. Not only does it help to maintain the coding standard and quality, but it also enables collaboration throughout the app development phase. Additionally, it works and supports the following functions: 

  1. Manually testing 
  2. Automated testing 
  3. Traceability function 
  4. Reporting and analyzing 

On the other hand, some of the notable benefits of Azure test plans include: 

  • capable of testing on any system and platform 
  • Rich and powerful diagnostic data collection
  • Integrated Analytics 
  • Full traceability 
  • A flexible and extensible platform 

5.Azure Artifacts 

Azure Artifacts is the last component of Azure DevOps services. It includes a library service that has shareability features. Therefore, developers can share and use packages from available feeds and public registries. Azure artifacts are pre-installed services on a system.

These could either be on the cloud or on-premises Azure DevOps. Moreover, users pay as they consume the benefits, but the best thing is it offers free service for 2GB of storage. It also handles different package types: npm, Maven, Python, and universal packages. 

What are the three main features of Azure DevOps?

Apart from its famous Azure DevOps components, Azure DevOps services have three main features. Let’s see what those are. 

1. Dashboards 

Azure DevOps has dashboards that allow users to gain access to user-configuration settings. Besides, Azure dashboards will enable you to perform the following tasks. 

  • Edit, add, configure, and manage the dashboards 
  • Add different widgets to your dashboard and later configure them as you desire 
  • Explore different areas of your project to see the progress  

2. Collaboration services 

Azure DevOps also offers collaboration services that support different functions and areas involving: 

  • Team dashboards 
  • Project wiki 
  • Discussions and meetings within work essential items forms 
  • Connecting work items, commits, pull requests, stories, and other things for improved traceability 
  • Alerts, reminders, and notifications of changes from different users, teams, projects, functions, and organization 
  • Ability to request, manage, and monitor feedback
  • Different analytics services, views, and Power BI reporting  

3.Plan, track, and monitor work 

The software development process is unique in its dynamics. For better results and productivity, developers are always looking for ways to share information regarding their projects. Additionally, they track and monitor the workflow and status of tasks, issues, and codding defects.

Besides, earlier developers used one or more tools, such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, bug identification system, etc. However, there is a different practice now. Teams use different agile methodologies and techniques for planning, tracking, and developing tasks. 

Azure app services also offer work items for tracking features, prerequisites, stories, bugs, threats, tasks, and issues. Each work item has a built-in capability of updates and upgrades as the task progresses. The above three are prominent Azure DevOps features. In addition to these features, Microsoft Azure also offers secure storage, scalability, collaboration properties, reliability, diverse data management, and advanced data analytics capabilities. 

Benefits of Azure DevOps 

While we are discussing the Azure DevOps capabilities, We shall also focus on some of the benefits of Azure DevOps services. 

1. Planning: with the help of Azure DevOps, DevOps teams can better plan and manage their work. It also offers them complete visibility across all spectrums for ongoing products and projects. Azure DevOps helps developers to have transparent and on-schedule working without delays and downtime. Also, it allows them to plan, define, monitor, and layout work protocols for custom dashboards, Kanban boards, etc. 

2. Developing: enables developers to improve synchronization by sharing code manuals and collaborating on different codes. Moreover, with the help of Azure, DevOps users have the freedom to create automatic workflows. Also, these workflows help with automated testing and integration in the cloud through Azure pipelines. 

3. Delivery: Azure DevOps services offer complete control to the developers to deploy applications to any Azure platform automatically. Therefore, with full control, users can define or spin up different cloud infrastructures with the Azure resource manager. Thus, the entire process forms a continuous delivery pipeline into these platforms with various tools and components. 

4. Operations: Azure Monitoring Services also allow users to implement full stack tracking and monitoring on the major operations. Meanwhile, users get actionable insights and alerts from different logs and telemetry through monitoring services. 

Welcoming Azure DevOps Services

Before concluding, it is essential to note that Azure DevOps offers a secure work environment to the developers and teams. They also have complete liberty to work from anywhere and in whichever format they deem suitable. Azure DevOps is an open-source technology that addresses vendor issues such as lock-in problems from the beginning. Moreover, it provides extensive integration through industry tools and methodologies. 

Therefore, you must adopt Azure DevOps services to make changes to your software development projects and apps. It also provides an end-to-end solution for software development and improved productivity. So, enable your team to plan, track, monitor, layout, and collaborate on different projects through the intelligent application of Azure DevOps services.   

Get in touch with Xavor at [email protected] today to learn more about our Azure DevOps Services and how we can help you.

FAQs

Q: What are the main components of Azure DevOps? 

A: Azure DevOps consists of five main components: Azure Boards for work tracking, Azure Repos for version control, Azure Pipelines for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), Azure Test Plans for testing, and Azure Artifacts for package management. 

Q: What is Azure DevOps for beginners? 

A: Azure DevOps for beginners is a set of tools and services that help individuals and teams plan, develop, test, and deliver software more efficiently. It provides a collaborative platform for managing the entire software development lifecycle. 

Q: How do I learn Azure DevOps for beginners? 

A: To learn Azure DevOps for beginners, you can start with Microsoft’s official documentation and online courses. Additionally, there are many tutorials and YouTube videos available to help you get started. 

Q: What are Azure DevOps features? 

A: Azure DevOps offers features such as version control, project tracking, CI/CD pipelines, automated testing, package management, reporting, and integration with other tools like Visual Studio and GitHub. These features facilitate efficient software development and delivery processes. 

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