Episode 4

Microsoft Azure DevOps and Agile Tooling with Dave Lyoyd and Martin Woodward

This month we’re talking all about Microsoft Azure DevOps and tooling for Agile with two very special guests: Dave Lloyd (Microsoft MVP and a co-founder of ObjectSharp) and Martin Woodward (Principal GPM for Azure DevOps. Vice-President of the .NET Foundation and original creator of the Microsoft org on GitHub).

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Show Notes
  • 00:30 – Introduction to today’s show on Azure DevOps with guests Dave Lloyd and Martin Woodward
  • 4:00 – Martin Woodard introduces himself. Martin talks about his history with TFS and TeamPrize, his 10 year history with Microsoft on the Azure DevOps Team, his work to create cross-platform development and bringing Git into TFS and Microsoft, and doing a lot of open source with the .NET Foundation, and his work with the GitHub team.
  • 6:50 – Jeff asks Martin to talk about “Brian the Build Bunny”, and Martin talks about how he connected his robotic IoT bunny to his CI / CD system
  • 8:30 – Dave Lloyd introduces himself, talks about his 35 year career in software, his role as a founder of ObjectSharp, his role as a Microsoft MVP
  • 9:23 – Jeff asks Martin to give a primer on Azure DevOps
  • 9:50 – Martin talks about Azure DevOps: what it is, what value it provides organizations. Martin discusses the software lifecycle and how various elements of Azure DevOps fits in to each segment of the lifecycle: Azure Repos, Azure Boards, Azure Pipelines, Azure Artifacts and Azure Test Plans
  • 12:18 – Jeff asks Martin and Dave to talk about Azure DevOps – whether it’s Microsoft only – how it fits in to what customers are doing
  • 13:00 – Dave Lloyd talks about misconceptions of Azure DevOps being “only for .NET” – it’s not. You can have IIS, Ubuntu, windows apps, linux apps. Whatever you want to build, you can use Azure DevOps for tooling – any language, any platform, any cloud.
  • 15:00 – Martin talks about the “any language, any platform” issue – he notes that they split VSTS into several discrete services like Azure Pipelines, Azure Repos, etc. Azure Pipelines is used by the Python team and the J-Unit open source teams.
  • 16:16 – Nick and Martin talk about how Azure DevOps is used to build Azure DevOps, Azure, Microsoft Windows – the Azure DevOps “inception”. Microsoft uses their own tools.
  • 17:00 – Martin talks about the advantage that comes with using the engineering tools that Microsoft uses itself – Microsoft is investing in these products because they are used internally – it’s an investment in their own engineering teams, that they also let customers use too.
  • 18:00 – Martin talks about how you can release to on-prem, AWS or Azure. The AWS extensions are built by the Amazon team themselves, similarly with the Google Cloud extensions and the Google Cloud team.
  • 19:00 – Martin talks about how with Azure DevOps you can turn certain services off. So you can use GitHub for your repos and turn that off in Azure DevOps. Similarly with subversion, etc. It’s not an all or nothing suite.
  • 19:47 – Dave Lloyd talks about how his customers are using Azure DevOps in the real world – a lot of customers use the whole suite, but some are using for select tooling.
  • 21:27 – Martin talks about Azure Cloud Shell
  • 21:50 – Nick provides a recap of the 5 components in Azure DevOps: boards, pipelines, testing, artifacts, repos. He talks about why Azure DevOps is so interesting as a tooling product coming from outside of a Microsoft Visual Studio background.
  • 23:30 – Martin talks about plugging and playing with Azure DevOps – for example, using Jenkins.
  • 23:58 – Martin’s “exclusive”- did you know the Jenkins CI product is built in Azure?!
  • 24:30 – Nick and Martin talk about the name change to Azure DevOps from Visual Studio Team Services – it’s meant to reflect the fact that Visual Studio was a distinctly Microsoft IDE but VSTS is really a set of tooling services that are beyond simply .NET or Visual Studio.
  • 26:30 – Dave Lloyd talks about GitHub and Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub and asks Martin to talk about the integration of Azure DevOps pipelines in GitHub
  • 27:00 -Martin talks about being an open source developer on GitHub and how Microsoft is now providing free access to Azure DevOps Pipelines – you can get unlimited build minutes and 10 parallel build jobs for free. But it’s not just pipelines! The whole value of Azure DevOps is to make sure you get end-to-end traceability with your team, so Microsoft has also added Azure Boards integration with GitHub as well.
  • 29:30 – Martin talks about how GitHub issues is good for open source and how people report issues to you – good for communication with stakeholders, but it’s not a great planning tool – so some teams are using Azure Boards now to manage the planning of the doing of work while still using GitHub issues to maintain transparency and communication with stakeholders of open source repos.
  • 30:20 -Jeff and Dave Lloyd talk about what companies are doing with Azure DevOps in practice. A lot of companies still are doing right click deploy – Dave provides a PSA: friends don’t let friends do right-click deploy. Most companies when they see how easy it is to set up a CI / CD pipeline in Azure DevOps are amazed. But while it’s easy to get set up there’s so many additional features that can be added. Dave talks about adding a custom approval state for customers, etc.
  • 32:40 -Dave Lloyd talks about how some companies are still not doing Agile. He notes that so many people thought Azure DevOps was just source control, but they don’t realize there’s so much Agile and CI / CD tooling functionality in Azure DevOps. He gives an example of how builds kick off releases and mark work items as completed automatically, tagging with build numbers, etc. It’s complete integration from end-to-end, which you don’t get if you’re piecing a number of different products together.
  • 35:30 -Nick stumbles upon his own confusion with some companies still not doing Agile. He asks Dave Lloyd to talk about why some companies might not be adopting either Agile generally or Azure DevOps specifically.
  • 36:30 -Dave LLoyd distinguishes between Agile and Azure DevOps. Smaller, and tech-leading companies are Agile but there’s a lot of large enterprises that still aren’t. But that doesn’t stop people from wanting to use Azure DevOps. When they learn about it, they love it. Dave Lloyd talks about the importance of how he writes reports and uses reporting to help technical stakeholders communicate value to business stakeholders up the chain. It’s a tool for the new world – Agile – but with reporting can still be used to help teams still dealing with waterfall culture.
  • 40:18 -Dave Lloyd talks about how teams could be moving quicker if they switched to a tool like Azure DevOps. It’s a big product but it also takes care of so much for you that you spend less time bandaging together a number of different products – it takes care of tooling, and can then get out of your way, so you can focus on shipping.
  • 41:00 -Jeff and Dave Lloyd talk about migrating from on-prem TFS to Azure DevOps – it helps if you have people who have done it before but it’s not insurmountable and it’s getting easier as Microsoft improves the experience of Azure DevOps.
  • 43:30 -Martin talks about the cadence at which the Azure DevOps ships changes and updates to its product.
  • 45:00 -Martin talks about how DevOps is a journey, not a destination. He explains how the Azure DevOps team is mindful of UI patterns and how it approaches disruptive UI changes to such an important tool for many organizations.

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