Development software

Microsoft addresses DevOps with InRelease technology

Microsoft has completed its purchase of InCycle’s InRelease business unit, announced in June, and is now deploying the software to offer DevOps capabilities to its Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server users.

The company has released an InRelease preview for Visual Studio of the company’s flagship software and has discussed how the software will be folded into Microsoft’s line of development software.

“The real interest in DevOps is about figuring out how to streamline the delivery of the software from the developer’s desktop to the production environment,” said Brian Harry, Microsoft technical fellow in charge of Team Foundation Server (TFS), Microsoft’s application lifecycle management product.

The emerging practice of DevOps seeks to shorten development time of software by having software developers work more closely with system administrators and other IT operations staff. The InRelease acquisition is providing Microsoft with a set of tools it can offer its customers to facilitate DevOps workflows.

DevOps came about largely due to the increased competitive pressure on companies and service providers to update their software. “We see the need for applications to be created faster and to evolve faster,” Harry said.

As a result, the release process for new software must be shortened as well. When software was updated every six months or so, an organization could devote a few additional weeks to vetting the new version before release. But if software updates come every month, the release process must be expedited as well, Harry said.

InRelease started as a series of scripts that InCycle developed to help the company automate deployments on behalf of its customers. InCycle is a Microsoft partner focused on integration work. “When the team had a new version of their code, it was costly and difficult to move it forward into production,” said Claude Remillard, president of InCycle software.

Over time, the company bundled its scripts into a general-use release management application, one closely integrated with Visual Studio and TFS.

With InRelease, project managers can specify the workflow process for moving an application from development to testing to deployment, handling tasks such as notifying managers who need to review, or otherwise prepare for, the software. InRelease can also install the software on the appropriate servers.

“The goal is that when we deploy into an environment, all the bits are on the servers required, so I can start running my code,” Remillard said.

By the end of the year, Microsoft plans to fully integrate the InRelease authoring components into the premium, ultimate and test professional editions of Visual Studio.

The InRelease server components will be integrated into Team Foundation Server 2013, also due later this year. The InRelease deployers, which are required to run on each deployment node, will be licensed separately.

By the end of the year, Microsoft will also ship its own version of InRelease, Harry said. Until then, the product can be purchased from InCycle, and those who buy before the Microsoft product is out will get a full upgrade to the Microsoft release.

Early customers for the InRelease software included banks, retailers and commercial independent software vendors. Another big user may be Microsoft itself, which just went through a reorganization in part to more quickly adapt to the ever-changing market for devices and services.

Already, the company has promised to deliver more frequent updates to Visual Studio and Windows Server. According to Harry, the company has started to use InRelease as a way to manage accelerated release schedules of a few of its products, and it will probably use it more as time passes, much in the same way that Microsoft development teams adopted TFS.

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