DevOps Buzz: Azure Pipelines

Using Azure Pipelines to Speed up DevOps

Microsoft introduced Azure Pipelines with a single vision: Make connecting the tools you need in DevOps for continuous integration and continuous delivery easier to use. This process translates to joining Docker with Git, with Selenium, with Jenkins, with Chef, and the many tools you are currently using in your DevOps stack. Azure Pipelines are the glue that holds everything together, which is quite a feat when you think about it.

As you might expect, Azure Pipelines is optimized to run solutions built for Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Service (the hint is in the name). However, it’s very refreshing that Microsoft is not restricting Azure Pipelines to only Azure solutions. Traditional enterprise solutions running behind a firewall can also take advantage of the Azure Pipelines toolset. In an exciting move, Microsoft enabled Azure Pipelines to connect from one cloud provider to another, making it act more like an open-source tool than a proprietary one. It can include a hybrid cloud, a private cloud, or even a competing provider including Redhat, AWS, or Google Cloud. 

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The goal with Azure Pipelines is to make DevOps easier to set up for teams. If your team is new to DevOps, you can now get running and testing DevOps delivery models in hours versus days. And we all know that with emerging technology, that makes an impact. 

What Azure Pipelines Gives You Today

As you might expect, Microsoft is making Azure Pipelines user-friendly. To begin using Azure Pipelines, an excellent place to start is to take an Open Source project you are hosting in GitHub and connect it to Azure Pipelines. Here are the steps you should consider:

  1. Register at the website to obtain access to a platform that will allow you to manage your apps. The project can be public or private (with you controlling access).
  2. After you’ve completed your registration, connect Azure Pipelines with your project. You can connect to any Azure Repos via Git, BitBucket, GitHub, GitHub Enterprise, any 3rd party Git server (such as GitLab), and Subversion.
  3. Once you’ve connected Azure Pipelines with your project, it’s time to configure your Azure Pipeline. There are two options; create a default starter pipeline or use an existing Azure pipeline. Using an existing Azure Pipeline should be used mostly by experienced teams only.
  4. Once complete, review the script that will manage your Azure Pipeline activity. 

And that’s it! Now you can run your Azure Pipeline. And, as you would expect, you will get outputs that validate that your code has been tested and built. In less than an hour, you can have your first Azure Pipelines environment up and running.

The Difference Between VSTFS and Azure Pipelines

If you are familiar with the Visual Studio Team Foundation Services (VSTFS) then you might be thinking: “Hey, Microsoft, did you just rebrand VSTFS to Azure Pipelines?” And to a certain degree, you would be right. Azure Pipelines is based heavily on VSTFS simply because VSFTS is a mature and robust suite of products. 

The big difference comes to light when you look as to how the tools in Azure Pipelines work together to deliver a DevOps model for delivery. In the last couple of years, VSTFS has grown to be two different products: 

  • An on-premise/enterprise version (legacy VSTFS tool suite) 
  • A cloud version. 

Azure Pipelines has more in common with the cloud version of VSTFS. 

Azure Pipelines is maturing very quickly, providing a comprehensive and efficient suite of tools. These can be easily extended with 3rd party plugins needed to meet today's DevOps delivery demands.

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More is Coming to Azure Pipelines (Very Quickly Too!)

Azure Pipelines, Microsoft’s new tool to speed up the rapid delivery of software for DevOps teams, has been out as a shipping product for less than six months. In this time, we have seen the product mature from a simple, yet clunky, visual interface to, now, supporting YAML as the scripting tool and linking all your Azure Pipeline services together. Microsoft is applying the same rapid, micro release approach to Azure Pipelines that you see with all other cloud services such as Office 365.

A great deal of news is emerging from Microsoft on DevOps. To keep up to date on the latest announcements and trends, I recommend that you check the following sites for regular updates:

Everything you could want to know about Azure and DevOps in once place. This site displays the related news and updates on the current sprints underway with the Azure team. 

This stellar YouTube channel features everything you could want to know about DevOps products by Microsoft. Learn about the products and interact with a vibrant community who are integrated with Azure as well. 

Feeling like you need some in-depth attention to Microsoft DevOps? This technical documentation is all that you need to learn the nuances of Azure DevOps.

While these resources are a list of the primary resources available for Azure DevOps, there are also many great Twitter and LinkedIn accounts which you can track down. As your skills expand, hopefully, your network of resources does also.

Are you skilled enough for your next role as a DevOps Practitioner? Well try answering these DevOps Practice Test Questions and find out yourself!

Good News for OpenSource: You Get Pipelines for Free

Starting under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has been doubling down on Open Source. You see, the commitment is now genuine and sincere. The culmination of the new Open Source commitment is the acquisition of GitHub, the single largest repository of Open Source projects. Microsoft does not want to control the Open Source community; they want to enable it. To this end, if you have a GitHub project, you can now use 10 Azure Pipelines for continuous delivery processes for free. The word on the street is that if you need more than ten, all you have to do is reach out to Microsoft and they will give you new accounts. Your project must be Open Source, but, heck, for someone getting started this is a crazy fresh option. Hopefully, AWS and Google follow suit so that all Open Source projects can have the best CI/CD tools without having to spend a penny. 

Whether you have some experience or a fresher in the field, our Microsoft Certified Azure Developer Training Course and the DevOps Certification Training Course is just what you need to learn the skills to succeed. From the fundamentals to advanced techniques, we cover it all. 

About the Author

Matthew DavidMatthew David

Matt is a Digital Leader at Accenture. His passion is a combination of solving today's problems to run more efficiently, adjusting focus to take advantage of digital tools to improve tomorrow and move organizations to new ways of working that impact the future.

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