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Microsoft: GitHub and VSTS 'Will Not Live in the Same Portal'

Microsoft reassured the developer community that GitHub will retain its open source independence following the big acquisition announced yesterday, though it will see deeper integration with Visual Studio Team Services.

The company said VSTS -- Microsoft's cloud-based collaborative environment that also supports Git, continuous integration and Agile tools for planning and tracking work -- will become stronger with the addition of GitHub.

The two platforms are already integrated in several ways and will see closer ties, with VSTS becoming more modular and -- in conjunction with GitHub -- offering a wider gamut of choices to developers.

"Some customers prefer a simple integrated solution, others want to adopt DevOps tools incrementally, assembling tailored solutions," Microsoft's Lori Lamkin said in a blog post yesterday. "For years, we've been adding extensibility and integration capabilities into the product. Today both VSTS and TFS integrate with GitHub and that integration will continue to deepen. GitHub offers a great developer social platform and version control system with broad developer appeal. VSTS has a wide range of DevOps services that scale to the largest enterprises. Together, teams can get the best of both worlds, selecting the pieces they want."

But even with deeper integration, Microsoft promised to maintain the independence of GitHub from VSTS and the on-premises Team Foundation Server (TFS), preserving the trusted, open environment so valued by the open source community.

"After the acquisition completes, GitHub will become another first class offering for VSTS customers," Lamkin said. "It will not live in the same portal as VSTS, but GitHub will have the same integration and traceability as our existing version control offerings. Over time we expect to grow GitHub to support the breadth of customer needs including enterprises."

Some developers on the Hacker News and Reddit social coding sites had their doubts, however, especially concerning VSTS, TFS and GitHub Enterprise, the on-premises version of GitHub.com that emphasizes collaborative coding for large-scale enterprise software development teams.

On Hacker News, in response to a comment that Microsoft might "lock down the Enterprise version to Azure," a developer said, "I don't think they will. They will most likely want to replace Team Foundation Server with GitHub Enterprise."

On Reddit, one developer said: "I'm hoping MS keeps largely hands off and uses GH Enterprise as the money maker. I'd imagine that with MS's enterprise world popularity, they should have no problem bundling it and immediately monetizing it with far more market penetration than GH ever had."

In reply, another developer said: "VSTS competes with GH Enterprise. I think they'd probably go the other way. GH Enterprise users get migrated to VSTS. Combine the backends. Differentiate based on feature offering. GH is for OSS, individuals and small teams that have simpler needs. Leverage VSTS/Azure for an integrated CI/CD offering. VSTS is for the medium to large companies that need a more sophisticated entitlements system, issue tracking and project management and the ability to do customizations."

Yet another developer weighed in on the thread: "First, I'm not a fan of this acquisition for privacy reasons. But I don't see GH Enterprise getting shuttered. They just paid $7.5 billion for it. I would expect the Git part of VSTS replaced with GitHub Enterprise. Using GitHub is what draws developers in and if they make the jump to VSTS include GitHub Enterprise I think it would increase adoption.

"From the press release it sounds like Microsoft wants to integrate GH Enterprise with more Microsoft services than Github.com. I would expect them to leave GitHub.com alone for the foreseeable future. They realize what's at stake; their reputation and if they 'Skype' it up then the developers that still trust MS will leave for something else and MS will lose all the good will they've worked for recently and GitHub.com will cease to exist."

Lamkin, however, maintained that won't happen.

"We are committed to you, our customers, and the solutions will live as parallel alternatives," she said. "Our intent is to provide TFS and VSTS services the same degree of traceability from code to cloud with GitHub as well as the current Git and TFVC version control solutions already hosted in VSTS and TFS."

Also, Nat Friedman (who will become GitHub's CEO upon close of the acquisition), sought to address "some healthy skepticism in the community" about the buyout in an open letter.

"GitHub will operate independently as a community, platform, and business," he said. "This means that GitHub will retain its developer-first values, distinctive spirit, and open extensibility. We will always support developers in their choice of any language, license, tool, platform or cloud."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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