Azure DevOps: The Next Big Thing in Application Lifecycle Management

DevOps — the combination of the teams of software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) — has become the go-to methodology in IT today. The goal is to provide a constant stream of improved software releases quickly and with fewer errors. Ultimately, developers turn to DevOps to shorten the overall development lifecycle.

App creators have many DevOps tools to choose from, and the sheer number is enough to make anyone’s head spin. To that end, we are devoting some time to one of the better DevOps tools available, Microsoft Azure DevOps.

We are going to take a close look at Azure DevOps, including what it has to offer, its advantages over similar tools, and the possible career opportunities awaiting you.

What is Azure DevOps?

Let’s begin with the basics: what exactly IS Microsoft Azure DevOps? It’s a software as a service (SaaS) platform that offers users an end-to-end DevOps toolchain to develop and deploy software.

Azure DevOps is not a single program but instead consists of the following services:

  • Azure Boards: This covers agile planning, work item tracking, and visualization, and reporting tools.
  • Azure Pipelines: This is a language, platform, and cloud-agnostic CI/CD platform with support for containers or Kubernetes.
  • Azure Repos: This offers a cloud-hosted private Git repository, with pull requests, advanced file management, and other benefits.
  • Azure Artifacts: The artifacts in question provide developers with integrated package management, including support for Maven, npm, Python, and NuGet package feeds from either public or private sources.
  • Azure Test Plans: This service provides an integrated, all-in-one planned, and exploratory testing solution.
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What Are the Benefits of Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps provides DevOps teams with powerful tools.

  • Timely Access to New Features

    Every three weeks, DevOps users receive access to new features. No need to scramble around and wonder what’s new. These are not to be confused with upgrades, and speaking of which:
  • No Upgrades to Worry About

    Users need not worry about upgrading or patching up the toolchain because the Azure DevOps is a SaaS product. Companies that run on a CI/CD model no longer need to slow things down for the sake of upgrading.
  • Reliability

    Azure DevOps is backed by 24 x7 support and a 99.9% SLA.
  • Flexibility

    If your DevOps team doesn’t want or need the full suite of services, they can acquire them independently.
  • It’s Platform-agnostic

    DevOps is designed to run on any platform (Linux, macOS, and Windows) or language (e.g., Android, C/C++, Node.js, Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, .Net, and iOS apps).
  • It’s Cloud-agnostic

    Azure DevOps works with AWS and GCP.

What Are the Features of Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps services offer a great selection of features for development teams. For instance:

  • Dashboard Control

    Using the DevOps dashboard feature, you can quickly navigate to different areas of the project, add and manage dashboards, and configure dashboard widgets.
  • Improved Source Control

    Azure DevOps systems support two popular types of source control: Git (distributed) or Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC), which is a centralized, client-server system. You can add and manage Azure Git tags, review, download, and edit files to see change history.
  • Plan and Track Your Work

    Azure DevOps systems provide you with a couple of types of work items used to monitor features, requirements, user stories, tasks, bugs, and more. For planning purposes, you can access several kinds of backlogs and boards to support the main agile methods: Scrum, Scrumban, or Kanban. You can add and update relevant work items, manage product backlog, use sprint backlogs to plan sprints, and use Kanban boards to visualize the workflow and update statuses.
  • Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD)

    Many developers employ the practice of CI/CD, and Azure DevOps supports them. By using Azure pipelines, developers can automate many of the design processes, including defining builds and their steps, creating test instructions, and manage simultaneous releases.
  • Support for Manual and Exploratory Testing

    Azure DevOps’ test features facilitate manual, exploratory, and continuous testing, including workflow customization, end-to-end traceability, criteria-based selection, and real-time charts that track test activity.
  • Integrated Collaboration Services

    The feature that enables teams to collaborate across with the entire collection of Azure DevOps features and functions:

    o Team dashboards

    o Project wiki

    o Discussion within work item forms

    o Linking work items, commits, pull requests, and other artifacts that support traceability

    o Alerts and change notifications managed per user, team, project, or organization

    o The ability to request and manage feedback

    o Analytics service, analytic views, and Power BI reporting

  • Azure Cloud-hosted Services

    Azure provides DevOps teams with cloud-hosted services that support application development and deployment. These services can be used by themselves or in combination with Azure DevOps.

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Competitive Advantages of Azure DevOps

Let’s take a look at how Azure stacks up to similar DevOps tools and services.

  • Jenkins

    Although Jenkins is open-sourced and is excellent for asynchronous development, it has issues with plug-in compatibility, the need for workarounds for basic requirements, and a comparative lack of support. While Jenkins is easier to use overall, this simplicity limits its usefulness.
  • JIRA

    JIRA is a top-rated application lifecycle management (ALM) Suite that has advantages such as automatic notifications, sprint planning, and customized dashboards. However, users experience problems with project administration, permissions, comparative difficulty in creating lists of versions, and weak reporting.
  • GitLab

    GitLab is another web-based, open-source, DevOps lifecycle tool. In a side by side comparison, Azure DevOps has every feature that GitLab has, and then some. GitLab especially comes up short in supporting other commonly found test formats, reporting, and integration with other tools and extensions.
  • TFS

    The TFS application lifecycle management (ALM) suite has respectable functionality and builds management features. But on the downside, it is hampered by a dashboard that doesn’t is overly customizable, a test interface that’s not very intuitive, and a price tag that runs a bit high when compared with other project management tools.

These comparisons aren’t meant to imply that Azure DevOps is perfect because, in the final analysis, no product or tool is. Additionally, some organizations may have specific requirements that are best served by another DevOps tool. What stands out with Azure is the comprehensive set of tools and features which enable DevOps teams to run projects from start to finish from one provider. That being said, Azure is highly agnostic, so teams can work with other tools and services if they choose.

Azure DevOps Jobs and Salary

So, since DevOps has become so ubiquitous, it stands to reason that there are plenty of related jobs and career opportunities out there. This is true for Azure DevOps and all the other platforms out there as well.

Here is a partial list of Azure DevOps-related positions, and their respective salaries:

  • DevOps Engineer - According to Glassdoor, an engineer can earn an annual average of $99,604
  • Cloud Architect - Glassdoor reports an average annual wage of $107,309 for architects.
  • Network Engineer - The US national average salary comes in at $72,362 for Azure DevOps engineers
  • Cloud Services Engineer - ZipRecruiter shows a US national average salary of $128,220 for cloud engineers
  • Remote DevOps Engineer - According to ZipRecruiter, remote DevOps engineers can earn an average of $120,444 a year

To sum up, check out the below infographic on Azure DevOps -

Azure DevOps

Want to Learn More about DevOps?

There are opportunities galore in the world of DevOps, and having a working knowledge of Azure DevOps can give you a leg up on the competition during the interview process. Even if you are already a DevOps professional, you should never pass up the opportunity to do a little upskilling. There is always something new to learn.

So when you decide to explore Azure DevOps, you might want to check out these articles. If you’re interested in the role of Azure pipelines’ use in the DevOps process, then check out DevOps Buzz: Azure Pipelines.

Many prospective employers look for candidates who have certification credentials. Certification shows that you possess the level of skill and knowledge necessary to succeed in the field in question. If you want to learn more about available certifications, check out The Top 6 Reasons to Get a Microsoft Azure Certification for a Successful Career in Cloud Computing.

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Start Your DevOps Career Here!

Simplilearn has all the tools you need to prepare for a career in Azure DevOps. The DevOps Engineer Master’s program prepares you for a career in DevOps, the rapidly-growing field that combines software developers and operations. You’ll become an expert in the principles of continuous development and deployment, automation of configuration management, inter-team collaboration, and IT service agility, using DevOps tools such as Git, Docker, Jenkins, and more.

The program consists of seven different courses, providing you with over 40 in-demand skills and more than 15 valuable tools. You will sharpen those new skills on more than seven real-life projects, then earn your master’s certification.

So, whether you’re contemplating a new career or just want to upskill, check out Simplilearn’s Azure DevOps resources, and master this fast-growing methodology.

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