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Azure DevOps Services Beginner's Guide

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 in order 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. 

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 service 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 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. 

What are the fundamental components of Azure DevOps services? 

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

There are five components: 

  • Boards 
  • Repos 
  • Pipelines 
  • Test plans 
  • Artifacts 

Below is a review of each 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 features of app development 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 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 

Azure DevOps provides these special services for commercial use and users only. It is a rich, flexible, robust, and essential tool for the development team. Not only does it help to maintain the codding 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 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 components, Azure DevOps services have three main features. Let’s see what those are. 

1. Dashboards 

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

-                  Edit, add, configure, and also manage the dashboards 

-                  Add different widgets to your dashboard and later configure them as you desire 

-                  Explore different areas of your project in order 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. And each work item has a built-in capability of updates and upgrades as the task progresses. 

Benefits of Azure DevOps 

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 offer 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.   

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Sania Khan

Sania Khan, is a content writer who has been writing for past 7 years. A content marketer by day and a poet by night, she previously worked for a large multinational and left it to pursue her passion for writing. She enjoys a good read with wit and tea to get her day started!