Microsoft Azure DevOps Review

Good for the staging environment through to the production environment


What is our primary use case?

Building fast and reliable, amplified feedback loops in all stages of our software delivery and operations lifecycle. The business strives for built-in quality to ensure that everyone have correctly done their job. 

I trust my team with peer reviews of our designs, code, test and infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

I'm familiar with Azure DevOps in the sense that my group directive has based the administration, architecture, and development on Azure. So whichever hat that I need to wear at the time that's the one I can wear.

What is most valuable?

I would say that Pipelines is Azure's most valuable feature. Also generally, Azure enables us to create a staging environment through to a production environment in an easier way and then get the code and run that. It also has decent pull requests and things like that.

What needs improvement?

Azure DevOps is a very cross-platform product. One of the issues that I have currently with the company is that they are using two different parts of technology. They were using JIRA for their sprint work and they were also using Confluence, as well as other Enterprise software. I advised them that all their sprint planning, backlog work, and everything else, can be done out of Azure DevOps from one central place. I know the Microsoft team will always look at improvements because I know that they are constantly looking at improvements to products while listening to their customers and looking at a global scale. I'm keeping my ear to the ground, as I always do.

The product keeps evolving and at the moment there are a lot of good parts There are petabytes of data. Anytime somebody does a pull request or anything else, Microsoft is notified about it. So if somebody, somewhere is always looking at that and watching, that can be a revolutionary product. It's a product that can continuously grow and evolve in time. Even if it is not yet what you call a finished article, it's a growing and evolving product.

Everybody has a slightly different take on what solutions or what part of the solution they would like to be improved. You can always improve a platform. Microsoft is always listening to customers and they will bring out a new version. The platform is quite user-friendly at the moment because you can use any program or language with it. You can't say you need another program, because as far as I'm concerned the main ones can be integrated with Azure. The newer ones like Go, as well as older ones like Python, Java, and PSP,  can all be integrated with that platform.

I suppose when we hear about that release, I have no doubt that because Microsoft captures a lot of metrics and information that they monitor, like capturing data about what or how people use their product, they can see where the usage is and where they might want to remove a feature. That analysis and also comes from Microsoft's monitoring capabilities.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I thought it was very stable. They didn't have any shaky moments. Predominantly with Azure DevOps you need one thing only: a solid internet connection. If you've got a solid Internet connection, you just push everything up to the platform or run an integral request. I haven't had any issues with that. Some people might have, but it all comes down to their internet connection.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is extremely scalable.

It helps a lot in Microservices or service technologies. Using the infrastructures of code enables a productivity increase of a thousand percent. I was speaking with a company that was pulling 12 requests at one time but using competitive technology like DevOps they were able to pull over 2000 requests at the same time. It's extremely scalable and you can use it to scale down when it needs it. It's a completely autonomous product, that allows you to scale whatever you need.

I have five or six back end developers that use it every day. They learn every day, so whatever code or scripts they write are in Azure DevOps. They're not using any another tool to do it, they are pulling it with the platform because you can't tell other people about a platform if you aren't using it yourself. The first thing they do is log on to DevOps.

There will be an increase in our usage of the product. We are looking to expand at some point. The more people that come on board, the more use there is for the product.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't had a requirement to contact their technical support. I have contacted their technical support before under some other projects and got a really good response from the person on the other end of the phone. They are always looking to help you solve more solutions as quickly as they possibly can.

I don't think I have had a bad experience; I've always had continuity. They were able to get me the problem resolved, whether it was a P1 or P4 issue. I've never had a problem with the technical support.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

I have experience with Amazon Web Services. As the Azure product has matured a lot in the last two to three years, it deserves its market share at the moment. We were using other products, like Visual Studio, a web service which is an old name for Visual DevOps. We were also using things like Team Foundation Server (TFS). We were just using some of the older tech.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We did the implementation ourselves.

I'm working on the high-level design and the low-level design so I know where we're going to start, and whether we've got a blank slate. I've worked with many firms in the past and companies have their own design in place. Usually, some of these companies material is outdated and Microsoft will probably move the bar several times. We are Microsoft accredited so we stay in touch with the technology more recently than most. We've constantly been informed of the latest technology and the latest products that are evolving on the platform. That includes those that are in preview, which I hope will become available, as well as those that are going to be deprecated. We're basically in full harmony with Microsoft and their products.

What was our ROI?

We most definitely achieved an ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Check out the pricing information from Azure Cost and analysis information.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No Visual Studio Team Services and Visual code were the preferred options.

What other advice do I have?

The first thing that I would suggest is to read the documentation for the platform. The online documentation changes pretty much every other week; there is always something new coming out. Practice, practice, and practice. Test, practice, and repeat. You need to know your way around the platform and the only way to do that is by hands-on practice. You can't break the environment, but you can speed things up on the thirteenth hour. It depends on how you configure things since every configuration is different. It's an excellent product that is taking into account current technology, yet also flexible enough to use with future technology.

At the moment I would rate Azure DevOps as a nine out of ten. The reason I wouldn't give anything a ten is because it's constantly evolving. There is room for improvement, as this is not the finished article at all. The reason I would give it a nine is the information to get the best usage out of the product is readily available. I've been using Microsoft tech for over 25 years now and back in the day it was difficult to get information out of Microsoft even when you were an MCPN. You would have a special link to go through a Microsoft back door to gain information. That's completely different to the advice that you would get related to Microsoft.com. Now Microsoft is completely different with everything readily available. You can download it in pdot format and the document could be 2000-3000 pages. They leave no stone unturned.

The only problem I would say at the moment is a friend of mine said that the Microsoft test book is taking a long time to come out because he wants to take the exam. Some people need to read the information and retain the information that way. Sometimes you go on these courses that are not run by Microsoft directly. They can be very flaky and don't have all the information or experience of using the product in normal working life.

If there is anything I would ask for, it's to get the documentation out on hardback so that we can add it to our libraries. That would be very good.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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