Azure DevOps for Streamlining Software Development

Azure DevOps for Streamlining Software Development

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The software development industry is a competitive world that demands faster innovation and shorter time-to-market. Software development today is accelerated through seamless collaboration, streamlined workflows, and efficient project management. To fulfill this organizations are moving away from traditional methods and adopting DevOps culture for infrastructure agility, greater visibility, and transparent communication. Azure DevOps is a leading platform helping software developers streamline the development process. But before understanding more about this key technology let’s understand the role of DevOps in software development. 

 

Importance of DevOps in Software Development 

 

DevOps the portmanteau of development (Dev) and operations (Ops) aims at creating a strong bond between the Dev, Ops, and other stakeholders in the company. It is an organizational approach focused on Agile principles to enable faster software development and easier maintenance. DevOps is not a technology but rather a cultural change resting on the three pillars of tools, processes, and people. According to the Accelerate State of DevOps Report, top-performing DevOps organizations do far better on software development/deployment speed and stability. DevOps in software development encompasses Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), real-time monitoring, incident response systems, and collaboration platforms like Azure DevOps. 

 

What is Azure DevOps? 

 

As we’ve touched upon previously Azure DevOps is a DevOps collaborative platform owned by Microsoft. It is a powerful solution from the Azure cloud that allows you to plan software deployment smartly, collaborate within multi-functional teams better, and deliver quality applications faster. Azure DevOps traces its origin to the Visual Studio Team System back in 2002. As cloud computing evolved Visual Studio Team System found its way into Azure cloud as Visual Studio Online and finally evolved into Azure DevOps in 2018. Comprehensively it offers a set of tools and services for collaboration through DevOps approach in the software development lifecycle. 

 

Azure DevOps Services and Tools 

 

Azure Boards 

 

This is a project-management tool for better collaboration and project tracking within the development team. The customizable dashboards allow data to be viewed easily. This serves as a central platform for project management. Azure Boards ships with modern agile tools like Kanban that help to boost your team’s productivity. 

 

Azure Repos 

 

This is a version control system like git allowing collaboration between developers and maintaining code integrity. It supports both Git and Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC) for any IDE.  

 

Azure Pipelines 

 

Azure Pipelines helps to set up CI/CD. This allows your deployment team to build, test, and deploy code automatically. This is a key DevOps enabler allowing efficient and error-free code delivery. 

 

Azure Test Plans 

 

This is a testing tool allowing the QA professionals of your software development team to plan, track, and manage testing activities. It allows creation and deployment of automated tests. Azure Test Plans can be combined with various other testing tools and frameworks. 

 

Azure Artifacts 

 

This is a package management tool to store and manage packages. This tool serves as a hub for managing packages improving efficiency and reliability within your software development team. Azure Artifacts includes features like package hosting and package versioning. 

 

Key Azure DevOps Benefits for Software Development 

 

Seamless collaboration 

 

The software development process is enriched by the contribution of unique ideas and talents of individual team members. However, there should be a common point of contact for exchange of ideas and sharing the work of individual developers, testers, and operations teams. Otherwise, the project becomes directionless. Azure DevOps is that platform of seamless collaboration between every team member involved with bringing the software to the market.  

 

Continuous integration and delivery 

 

To make a mark in the software market speed is crucial. Software should be able to quickly upgrade themselves and release new versions responding to the market trends. This leads to a culture of continuous coding, testing, and integration into the existing codebase. Azure DevOps provides the necessary tools for testing and integrating new code as a perfect piece of puzzle in the existing codebase. As a result, your company can make frequent releases and keep you ahead of the curve. 

 

Agile project management 

 

Today’s software development lifecycle is driven by the principles of Agile Development focusing on quick releases and easy adaptation to changes. Azure DevOps provides necessary tools to practice Agile Development approach in software development. For example, as a starting point, Azure Boards offers process flows and templates to choose from for teams looking for a baseline structure to start planning.  

 

Automated testing and monitoring 

 

To ramp up your software release cycle you need to look for automated methods of testing. It is also important that you can continuously monitor your production process to flag anomalies and prevent them from reaching the release version leading to huge dissatisfaction from end users. Azure DevOps provides the right tools for automated testing and continuous monitoring to maintain code quality and standards. For example, Azure Test Plans provides an environment to set up and run automated tests. 

 

Software analytics and insights 

 

Keeping up with the frequent release culture of the competitive software development landscape certainly demands a lot of analytics and insights. Azure DevOps opens your access to insightful analytics and software engineering metrics. Your software development team gets access to a lot of information regarding bottlenecks, anomalies, and glitches and can make data-driven decisions continuously to improve and optimize the workflow. 

 

Scalability and flexibility 

 

Azure DevOps is a cloud-based platform offering unlimited scalability and all the flexibility that a cloud platform offers. This allows you to easily scale infrastructure as required with your production cycle. Azure DevOps also offers several cloud-based solutions which can be used to fulfill various needs of the software development lifecycle. 

 

Monitoring and feedback 

 

Azure DevOps offers a number of tools for monitoring and feedback purposes. Azure Monitor enables continuous monitoring throughout your workflows. Monitoring can be set up for virtual machines or AKS clusters via Azure Portal. Setting up monitoring throughout your infrastructure helps to achieve complete observability, have a complete view of system health, and track the root cause of failures. 

 

Ecosystem integration 

 

Azure DevOps allows integration with a lot of third-party tools and services allowing a wide range of functionality and flexibility to the software development team. All five Azure DevOps services embrace an open and extensible architecture, enabling seamless integration with various application development frameworks, platforms (both on-premises and cloud-based), and deployment environments. For example, integration of Azure DevOps with Microsoft Power BI allows to create customized dashboards and pull data from Azure DevOps Analytics. 

 

Conclusion 

 

Taking the DevOps approach to software development will involve a lot of setting up activities like creating an account, setting up repositories, configuring pipelines, planning work with boards, Azure DevOps serves as a comprehensive platform to kickstart those. As your development team gets familiar with the platform, they can explore the advanced features and customize the suite as per the project needs.  

 

Azure DevOps for Streamlining Software Development

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