Understanding the role of Azure in DevOps:
It’s easy to understand the why of DevOps — that is, to explain which benefits DevOps provides.
What’s much harder to wrap one’s head around is the how of DevOps. Making a plan for actually achieving the goals of DevOps (such as continuous delivery, maximum automation and continuous visibility) is very challenging.
The challenges are due in part to the fact that doing DevOps is not as simple as adopting a specific tool or practice; instead, there are so many possible routes to DevOps. And with so many DevOps tools and resources to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones will lead your organization most effectively to DevOps implementation.
Extending the DevOps model will enhance Agile operations and collaborations so that IT infrastructure, application development and operations work as one.
Benefits include 75 percent reduction in time to market.
In this article, we recommend one particular set of tools that offer many benefits for doing DevOps: the Azure cloud. While Azure is not the only way to achieve DevOps, Microsoft’s cloud offers a variety of services that greatly simplify the work required to move toward a comprehensive Azure DevOps practice.
Let’s look at those Azure DevOps features and services.
1. Azure Boards
Azure Boards is to Trello what Azure Repos is to GitHub: a cloud-native approach to managing tasks and workflows. Like Trello, Azure DevOps Boards features enables you to create clear visual interfaces for tracking who is responsible for which tasks within a DevOps organization (or various other kinds of projects).
In addition, Azure DevOps Boards provides native integrations with a variety of other tools and services, from Slack to GitHub. It also includes an analytics feature to help track the health of projects.
2. Azure Repos
Being able to communicate and collaborate across teams is also critical for DevOps. To do this, you need not only scalable communication tools like Slack, but also a way to provide easy access to the code that your various teams are working on.
Azure Repos, which lets you build private Git repositories hosted in the cloud, provides a solution on this front. By hosting your code in Azure Repos, you ensure that everyone on your team can access, track and contribute to it — if they have the proper level of access, of course.
Here, you’re probably thinking, “Why wouldn’t I just use GitHub?”
You could use GitHub to set up private repositories, but Azure Repos is more dynamic. Do you know why?
Because it offers some unique features, like the ability to integrate repositories with Webhooks and APIs. These features make it easy to integrate Azure Repos repositories effectively into a large, scalable CI/CD pipeline.
3. Azure Pipelines
A continuous delivery pipeline is a must-have for DevOps. In order to be effective, such a pipeline must automate most of the tasks required to deliver software, from development to deployment to production monitoring. The pipeline should also facilitate clear communication between the various teams that manage these tasks.
Azure DevOps Build Pipelines provides an easy way to set up such a pipeline. Pipelines provides a fully hosted, cloud-based environment for building, testing and deploying software.
I can hear you thinking: “But the catch is that Pipelines can only deploy to Azure, right?” Well, no. Azure Pipelines can be used to deliver software for any mainstream environment or platform — even competing clouds like AWS.
In addition, Azure DevOps build Pipelines also works with any language. Flexibility is another key component of DevOps, and Pipelines helps deliver it.
4. Azure DevTest Labs
Being able to scale software delivery and automate time-consuming tasks like infrastructure provisioning, all without compromising software quality, is also important for doing DevOps well.
Azure DevTest Labs benefits are endless. It helps you achieve these goals by automating much of the work required to set up testing environments for software. Instead of wasting time provisioning test environments by hand, or skimping on testing because it takes too much time to set up, you can use DevTest Labs, which supports Windows as well as Linux environments, to integrate thorough testing into the rest of your CI/CD pipeline.
Again, there is no single way to do DevOps. A variety of tools and strategies will help you achieve the goals associated with DevOps.
But not all tools and strategies are created equal, or are equally easy to implement. If you want a fast, scalable, cloud-native on-ramp to DevOps, consider the Azure cloud, which provides a range of services that cater specifically to the needs of DevOps teams.