What is Azure DevOps
Azure DevOps is a platform that assists the developing teams in designing the projects which implement the Agile process, oversee code utilizing Git, application testing, and deploying code using CI/CD framework. DevOps is simply the combination of development(Dev) and operation process(Ops) for software development. The DevOps role enables the features of development, IT operations, quality engineering, and security to coordinate and collaborate for producing better, and more reliable products. Adopting the DevOps practices and tools makes the teams gain the ability to better respond to customer needs, increase confidence in the applications they build, and achieve business goals faster. In this blog, we are going to discuss the concepts about online and On-Premises, key terms in Azure DevOps, Azure DevOps actions, advantages, application lifecycle and Azure DevOps Practices.
Online vs On-Premises
There are two ways to access the Azure DevOps that are “on-premises” which is a Server and another is “online” which provides the Services. Azure DevOps Services is the last structure. The cloud service belongs to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform that utilizes a similar code as the on-premises rendition of Azure DevOps, minor adjustments, and executes the latest highlights. Extra configurations are not required for Azure DevOps. To set up a domain, create a project, and add a new user, the user has to sign up from their Microsoft account.
Key terms used in Azure DevOps
Azure DevOps comprises the key terms such as organization, projects, azure board, azure Repos, azure pipeline, azure artifacts, and azure test plans.
Azure DevOps organization is fundamentally an account name/ Domain name and is also editable to change. To deal with various domains inside, it provides you only one Azure DevOps account. Using this single Microsoft account you can create multiple organizations. The features like access control and security are configured for an individual organization as well.
The Azure DevOps organization can be divided into multiple projects and allows us to configure the features of access control, pipeline, build process, board, and code for an individual project.
To plan, track the work items and to manage the backlog and sprints, the Azure board is utilized. Azure Board is also known as an application lifecycle management(ALM) tool similar to other ALM tools like JIRA, SpiraTeam, etc. The Azure board allows you to create workflows, issue types, epic, and many other components of ALM.
Azure Repos is a specific location that allows you to create, manage, and store versions of our codebase. Azure Repos can be utilized for reviewing purposes and other version control mechanisms. It fundamentally offers two types of version control systems that are “now GIT” which is a Distributed version control and “TFVC” which is centralized version control.
Among the automation processes of DevOps, the Azure pipeline allows you to create a build, release, test, and deploy on the target machine. In simple terms, the Azure pipeline is the combination of CI/CD.
Among the Azure DevOps extensions, Azure Artifacts assists you to create, host, manage, and share packages across the team. Azure Artifacts supports multiple types of packages such as NPM, Nuget, Maven, Python, etc. Azure Artifacts are fundamentally a collection/ output of dll, rpm, jar, and many other types of files. The metadata may exist in any one among those extension based files.
Azure Test plans
Azure test plans support advanced test management solutions for customer feedback, UAT, Automation testing, and manual testing.
Azure DevOps Actions
Azure DevOps comprises performing activities such as planning, development, build, package, testing, release, configure, monitor, reporting, and wiki.
As discussed earlier, the Azure board is an ALM tool. The Azure board assists in maintaining an Agile process that enables you to plan, track the development history for individual developers, and detect issues using a kanban and scrum.
To manage our workspace and code repository multiple types of version control are already integrated with Azure DevOps. Almost all features related to DevOps are already inbuilt inside.
An azure pipeline helps use continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). Multiple types of job agents and templates are already available inside.
The inbuilt extension is already available in Azure Artifacts, so we don't need to go anywhere for any type of packages.
Testing is an important part of the DevOps process. So Azure DevOps provides multiple types of inbuilt testing templates and management tools.
As we know the software release process is a very critical moment of DevOps. Azure DevOps has already multiple types of inbuilt features to make the process easy and risk-free.
Configuring and operating is very easy in Azure DevOps as the process is very simple to configure organization, kanban, sprints, etc.
Monitoring ensures the health, performance, and reliability of your application. Each phase of the DevOps lifecycle has to be monitored.
You can view reports, summaries using the Azure DevOps dashboard. You can also generate an analytical report with BI integration.
Azure DevOps Wiki assists in distributing the information, sharing knowledge, and collaborating across teams and stakeholders. A Wiki is utilized for demonstrating the project's user stories, sprints, release notes, etc.
Advantages of Azure DevOps
The developing teams that adopt DevOps culture, its practices, and tools lead them to high-performance and build the products for betterment with customer satisfaction. This improved collaboration and productivity are also integral to achieving business goals as follows:
- Accelerating time to market.
- Adapting to the market and competition.
- System stability and reliability maintenance.
- Improving the meantime to recovery.
Application Lifecycle in Azure DevOps
The application lifecycle of Azure DevOps goes through the phases of planning, developing, delivering, and operating phases. The phases are not role-specific and each phase depends on the others. Each role is involved in each phase to some extent.
In this planning phase, the DevOps teams prepare the ideas, define, and describe the features and capabilities of the applications and systems they are building. The progress can be tracked at low and high levels of granularity from single-product tasks to tasks that span portfolios of multiple products. Creating backlogs, tracking bugs, managing agile software development with Scrum, using Kanban boards, and visualizing progress with dashboards are some of the ways DevOps teams plan with agility and visibility.
The development phase comprises the coding aspects to write, test, review, and integrate code as well as developing the code to build the artifacts that can be deployed into various environments. DevOps teams ensure quality, stability, and productivity. To achieve this, the team uses high productive tools, automates mundane and manual steps, and iterates in small increments through automated testing and continuous integration.
In this phase, the applications are deployed into production environments. The implementation approach is very consistent and reliable. The delivery phase also includes deploying and configuring the fully governed foundational infrastructure that makes up those environments.
The DevOps teams define a release management process with clear manual approval stages. The applications move between the stages when automated gates are set and this continues until it is made available to customers. Automating these processes makes them scalable, repeatable, controlled. Thus the teams that practice DevOps will deliver frequently with ease, confidence, and peace of mind.
In this phase, the applications are maintained, monitored, and troubleshot in the production environments. The DevOps team adopts the DevOps practices to ensure the reliability of a system, high availability, and targets for zero downtime while reinforcing security and governance. DevOps teams recognize the issues before they get affected by the customer experience and alleviate those issues quickly when they occur. This alert maintenance needs rich telemetry, actionable alerting, and full visibility into applications and the underlying system.
Azure DevOps Practices
The following are some of these practices that help in accelerating, automating, and improving business productivity.
Continuous Integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD)
Continuous integration is a software development practice in which developers merge code changes frequently into the main code branch. It implements the automated testing that runs every time a new code is committed so the code in the main branch is always stable. Continuous delivery is the frequent, automated deployment of new application versions into a production environment. The issues are reduced by implementing the automation steps which are required for deployment and also enables more frequent updates.
The CI/CD processes involve full automation of all steps between code commits to production deployment. Implementing the CI/CD allows teams to focus on building code and removes the overhead and potential human error in manual, mundane steps. The CI/CD also makes the process of deploying new code quicker and less risky. The deployments occur more frequently and in smaller increments, this assists the teams in becoming more agile, more productive, and more confident in running their code.
Version control is the practice of managing code in versions. It is used in tracking revisions and history changes to make the code easy for reviewing and recovering. This practice is usually employed using version control systems such as Git which allow multiple developers to collaborate in authoring code. The version control systems provide a neat process to merge code changes that happen in the same files, handle conflicts, and roll back changes to earlier states.
Utilizing the version control is a basic DevOps practice, which assists the development teams to work together, splitting the coding tasks among the team members and saving all code for easy recovery if needed. Even in other practices like continuous integration and infrastructure as code, Version control is a very necessary element.
Agile Software development
Agile is a software development approach that involves team collaboration, customer and user feedback, and high adaptability to change through short release cycles. The Agile practice enables frequent changes and improvements to customers, collect their feedback, then learn and adjust based on customer wants and needs. Agile is unique from other traditional frameworks such as waterfall, which comprises long release cycles defined by sequential phases. Agile is associated with two popular frameworks of Kanban and Scrum.
Infrastructure as code
The system resources and topologies are defined by the Infrastructure as code(iac) in a descriptive manner that allows teams to manage those resources as they would code. These definitions can also be saved and versioned in version control systems, where they can be reviewed and reverted again like code.
Practicing iac assists the teams to deploy system resources in a reliable, repeatable, and controlled approach. It also helps in automating the deployment and reduces the risk of human error, especially for complex large environments. The repeatable, reliable solution for environment deployment enables the teams to maintain development and testing environments that are similar to production. Replicating environments to various data centers and cloud platforms similarly become simpler and more efficient.
Configuration management refers to managing the state of resources in a system including servers, virtual machines, and databases. By using these tools, teams can roll out changes in a controlled, systematic way, reducing the risks of modifying system configuration. Teams utilize these tools to track system state and assist in avoiding the configuration drift, which is how a system resource’s configuration deviates over time from the desired state defined for it. The combined practices with infrastructure as code, both system definition and configuration are easy to templatize and automate, helping teams operate complex environments at scale.
Continuous monitoring is the process of having full, real-time visibility into the performance and health of the entire application stack, from the underlying infrastructure running the application to higher-level software components. This visibility consists of the collection of telemetry and metadata as well as the setting of alerts for predefined conditions that warrant attention from an operator. Telemetry includes the event data and logs gathered from various parts of the system, that are saved where they can be analyzed and queried. The DevOps teams ensure to set actionable, meaningful alerts, and collect rich telemetry so they can draw insights from vast amounts of data. These insights help the team mitigate issues in real-time and see how to improve the application in future development cycles.
Azure DevOps delivers continuous value to the customers. DevOps teams align around the business objectives and achieve them using short release cycles. These cycles allow agile response to the market and continuous learning through customer feedback.
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