Get Started with Azure DevOps Pipelines & Transform Your Strategy

Introduction To Azure DevOps Pipelines

Technology adaptation is a continuous process. The primary reason to discover new and innovative ways of working is to reduce human efforts. Human beings strive for excellence that increases productivity and makes the process easier. Different tools, apps, and software help us manage these things. However, even app development and deployment require some toolchain to keep the source code in its private storehouse, agile planning, and an integrated solution to testing & assisting in the process deployment. That is where the concept of Microsoft’s Azure DevOps-SaaS (Software as a Service) comes into the picture.

Microsoft Azure DevOps was launched in 2018. So, it is not one of the newly release tools. The origin of Azure DevOps can also be traced with the help of the Visual Studio Team System that was launched back in 2006.

What is Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps can be defined as an all-inclusive tool that offers various services covering the entire software development lifecycle or SDLC. Some of the key features include:

  • Azure Boards that permit agile planning, work item tracking, power BI visualization, and other standard reporting tools
  • Azure Pipelines that define Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) processes with support for Kubernetes and containers
  • Azure Repos that provide complete support to cloud-hosted private storages
  • Azure Artifacts offering package management support to npm, Maven, NuGet, Python, and other package feeds from public and private sources
  • Azure Test Plans to provide integrated planning as well as investigation of various testing solutions

A feature-rich and mature model, Microsoft Azure DevOps aims to help businesses manage to multitask simultaneously.

What are Azure Pipelines?

Azure DevOps Pipeline is an automatic process that assists developers in building, compiling, and deploying their codes on different computational platforms. Azure Pipeline is a consistent delivery tool, just like open-source CodeShip or Jenkins. The sole purpose of Azure Pipelines is that it does not require manual intervention. All changes are executed automatically, without manual intervention. When human beings handle the process, the possibility of error increases. However, with automation, everything works seamlessly once configured.

Azure Pipeline can be categorized as:

  • Source control
  • Build tools
  • Package creation
  • Configuration management
  • Monitoring

Azure DevOps Pipelines are used with different applications like Java, Python, Go, .Net, Node.js, XCode, and C++. Using Azure Pipelines requires source control to which it can attach. Moreover, Azure Pipeline also supports different source controls like Azure Repos, Github, Subversion, Bitbucket, etc.

Artifacts in Azure Pipelines are mainly based on sturdy foundations of the CI & CD pipelines that perform continuous tests, builds, and finally deploys. It also performs nonstop deliveries automatically through test and deployment of codes to desired targets.

Azure DevOps Pipeline Terminology

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration, or CI, helps catch issues and bugs in the preliminary stages of the development lifecycle. At that stage, it is easier to fix errors and move faster. Developers can also check the codes in respective version-control storages, check in the code for testing, and locate bugs. The primary benefits include:

  • Minor tweaks make it simpler to merge large codes
  • Easy for large teams to check what each one is working on
  • Locate errors and quickly fix them
  • Continuous compilation of codes and testing
  • Make the process of integration smoother to ensure improved productivity

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery, or CD, assists developers in delivering new features, configure changes, and fix bugs reliably and faster. CD pipelines also provide routine deliveries according to configuration or maybe called when demanded. The primary benefits include:

  • Reduced release risks
  • Faster bug fixes
  • Delivery is feasible at all scale

Continuous Testing

Continuous Testing, or CT, is the process of conducting continuous tests. Whether the app is on-premise or on the cloud, it would be possible to automate the build-deploy-test workflows, choose frameworks and technologies, then test the changes consistently, ensuring speed, scalability, and efficiency.

Continuous testing helps in maintaining quality and detecting problems as the development process continues. CT and TFS further ensure the app works after check-in and builds, thus enabling developers to see issues before running automatic tests.

Azure DevOps Key Components

  • Azure DevOps pipeline requires a trigger to initiate and run
  • The pipeline has several stages. It can deploy to single as well as multiple environments
  • Each stage is specified to handle jobs in the pipeline, and different stages have multiple jobs
  • Each job runs on a particular agent. The job may not have an agent
  • Each run shall run the job that could have multiple steps
  • The step could be anything such as a task or script, which is a compact pipeline part
  • The task is in the form of a pre-bundled script, which acts as publishing a typical build artifact
  • Run published files in bunches or bundles called artifacts in Azure pipelines

Format of Packages

To produce new packages that others can consume, publish Maven, npm, or NuGet packages to built-in package management storage in Azure pipelines. You may also use other package management tools.

Essentials to Use Azure Pipelines

  • An Azure DevOps organization
  • To have necessary source codes stores in the version control system

Features of Azure DevOps Pipelines

  • Any Language & Platform: Build, test, deploy Python, Node.js, PHP, Java, Ruby, .NET, C/C++, Android, iOS apps – runs parallelly on macOS, Windows, and Linux.
  • Kubernetes and Containers: Easily develop and push all images to container registries like Azure Container Registry and Docker Hub. Deploys containers to respective hosts, also called Kubernetes.

Azure DevOps Features

  • Extensible: Explore and implement various community-built development, test, and deployment tasks, together with hundreds of SonarCloud to Slack extensions.
  • Any Cloud Deployment: Implement CD (continuous delivery) of the software to the cloud, including GCP, AWS, and Azure.

Azure DevOps Benefits

The key reason to learn Azure DevOps is that it blends the magnitude of the online cloud and DevOps process. When you know Azure DevOps and use it to build applications efficiently, you play a significant role.

Given below are some of the significant benefits:

  • Speed: DevOps microservice combined with continuous delivery allows teams to take service ownerships and release updates faster
  • Rapid Delivery: Azure DevOps combines tools with different processes and sets into the cloud. It starts from building the app and testing the same in the cloud using various automated tools and deploying immediately as the code commit takes place
  • Reliability: Logging and monitoring practices helps developers in staying informed about real-time performances
  • Scalability: Code infrastructure helps in managing development, production environments, and testing repeatedly and more efficiently.
  • Better Collaboration: DevOps is a single yet combines Developers and Operations platform that allows teams to collaborate efficiently. They do not isolate themselves from one another and share feedbacks and responsibilities.
  • Security: Automated compliance policies, configuration management techniques, and fine-grained control can define and track compliance at scale.

Benefits Of Azure DevOps

Artifacts in Azure Pipeline

Simply put, artifacts are best defined as executable files containing machine instructions instead of human-readable high-level codes. Feed is another element resembling package containers that help with publishing and consumption. Coming to artifacts, it’s technically a store containing all the artifacts produced during development and deployment. They also provide a secure and speedy binary packages feed that is easier to use. You may use multiple feeds for better control and organization of access to the packages.

Pricing of Azure DevOps

Azure mainly features two types of pricing – individual services and user license services.

Individual services require users to have one CI/CD hosted by Microsoft of up to 1800 minutes and a CI/CD that is free and self-hosted with no time limitations. Users can take up to 2GB storage of Azure artifacts. However, in post-free parallel roles, users must pay a certain sum of money to Microsoft for hosted jobs and self-hosted jobs.

User licenses have two types of plans – a basic plan and another basic plan plus testing. The former includes major basic features, and it’s free for the first five users. After that, you must pay approximately $6 per month. For the latter, you must pay $52 per month from the beginning.

Conclusion

Understanding Azure Pipelines is very important before using Azure DevOps services, as the system can streamline various operations while optimizing the processes. The process equally divides workflows into several manageable formats with the help of a scalable and robust Azure platform that deploys solutions in the pipelines. Also, you can Hire dedicated developers to run your Azure projects smoothly.

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Jaydeep Patadiya is a senior business development manager at Radixweb and always has the answer to- what's on the mind of the customers? In an industry that is fundamentally changing, he helps customers make the right decisions by connecting the right dots and adopt new technologies. Beyond work, he prepares for upcoming marathon races.