Microsoft's DevOps Goals: "Any Language, Any Platform"

Microsoft knows that, out there in the real world, developers come at DevOps using a wide range of languages and platforms, some of which are not of the developer's choosing. That was the core message of Microsoft DevOps expert Donovan Brown's demo at VSLive! in Las Vegas this week.

DevOps: What is it and how do you get there? How will it affect your development process? How can you get into DevOps? Visual Studio Live! Las Vegas attendees had the chance to hear from emerging DevOps master Donovan Brown. Recently, Brown was actually promoted to principal DevOps program manager for Microsoft's Visual Studio Team Services group.

Brown kicked off Visual Studio Live! Las Vegas with a demo-heavy keynote presentation, entitled "Rub DevOps On It," on Tuesday morning, March 14. During his keynote, Brown presented continuous delivery pipeline development demos on several different platforms to show how any language and any platform can support DevOps workflows.

"DevOps is for the code you write tomorrow and all the code you're maintaining now," he said. "And I'm going to show you how to do it four times. You can do this from the command line, from Visual Studio, from Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS), from anywhere you can think of for any language targeting any platform. We all love Visual Studio, but not everyone uses that, so we're going to also use Java and Node.JS, and also Azure."

This choice of creating a DevOps pipeline in different languages cemented Brown's assertion of any language, any platform. He started with his definition of DevOps. "DevOps is the union of people, process and products to deliver continuous value to our end users," said Brown.

He then moved into the extensive and detailed four-part demo. "We're going to start here in Visual Studio Team Services. It has everything you need to turn an idea into a working piece of software," he said. "It's everything. It's your bug tracking, build and source control, and package management."

Brown repeated the "any language and any platform" mantra. "You can continue to use your favorite IDE," he said. "Gone are the days when Microsoft equals .NET and Windows. This is not your daddy's Microsoft. This is a Microsoft that embraces open source. This is a Microsoft that is the number one contributor to open source on the planet."

He continued with the first phase of the demo using VSTS. "So now we have Visual Studio open, and we're building a continuous delivery pipeline without ever leaving the IDE," he said. "Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Services (TFS) are two sides of exact same coin. VSTS is everything you know and love about TFS without the maintenance. And it's updated every three weeks like clockwork."

As he wrapped up with VSTS demo, he began to transition to the next portion of the demo. "Just in the amount of time I was able to describe the build for you, we were able to build and release in VSTS," he said. "We've built one pipeline within VSTS. Now I want to show you another option. What we've done for VS, let's go do this in the Azure portal to do this as well."

Brown demonstrated support for any language, including open source. "The first app was with the full framework. This is going to be ASP.NET Core, but from the Azure perspective."

He points out IT managers can create their own DevOps pipeline as well -- it's not just for developers. "You can be your own champion and from the portal, build the pipeline your organization is going to use to move code from the fingertips of your developers to the hands of your users," he said. "You don't have to go to Visual Studio at all."

He reminded the assembled developers that value is the critical aspect of DevOps. "In the definition of DevOps, one of the words I use is 'value.' You don't want to just copy files to a server. That's not DevOps," he said.

And metrics and measurement are critical aspects to determining value: "DevOps is delivering value. To deliver value, you have to measure that you've delivered value," said Brown. "What we need are numbers and metrics that show people are actually using that new feature you just deployed, because if they're not using that new feature, you did not deliver value. You just copied files to a server."

He also presented the demo using Java and Node.js, and pointed out that VSTS is really the backbone of all this multi-language, multi-platform development. "Whether I'm using Visual Studio or the Azure portal or whatever, Team Services is the engine that drives all this."

Each portion of the demo was rich with Brown describing individual features and functions, and pointing out their similarities regardless of the language or platform. "Within an hour, we actually deployed four different pipelines from nothing," he said. He encouraged the audience to return to work and try what he had just demonstrated. "Just go do it."

The next Visual Studio Live! event happens in Austin, TX in May 15-18. Click here for more information.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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