Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What do you want to know about ALM?

Have you ever visited an Ask The Experts event? For those of you who haven’t, ATE are session held at events where you can connect to experts in certain areas and ask the question you want.

For example, at a recent event I spoke at I also did an ATE session. People could just walk in and ask questions. I received questions about optimizing build performance, choosing a branching strategy and the idea behind Release Management and Continuous Deployment just to name a couple.

I did this event together with Hassan Fadili and after that we discussed if it would benefit the community to run ATE sessions online as a webinar.

ATE with the ALM Rangers and MVPs

So we want your feedback. Do you think it’s valuable to have online ATE events around ALM, DevOps and Agile?

We think the best way to find out is to just get started.

If you have any questions around ALM please leave them as a comment on this post. We will collect all questions and then schedule  an online Webinar where Hassan and I and other experts will answer your questions.

One important thing to understand is that we can’t discuss anything that’s under NDA. So questions like when is feature x going to be released? When is the next version of TFS or Visual Studio coming? are not going to be answered.

If there is enough response, we would love to host these sessions once a month for about 30 minutes each time.

So now it’s up to you. If you have any questions or feedback please leave them as a comment. When the questions start to come in we will schedule our first webinar and invite you all to join.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Learning Git

As you may have noticed: Team Foundation Server not only supports TFVC but also supports Git. Now the big question is: why? Microsoft says that TFVC is not going away but that there are scenarios where one or the other is a better choice.

I’m by no means a Git expert so after reading a very interesting email discussion within the ALM Rangers on Git I realized I need to know more about Git.

So here are a couple of links to get you started if you want to learn Git:

Is Git going to be the future? I don’t know. But Git is definitely popular in some circles and an extra tool in your belt is always a good idea.

What is your take on Git? Do you like it? Use it? Hate it? How have you learned to use Git?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My favorite books: The Phoenix Project

Have you ever read a computer book that was a real page turner? Well, although I love to read, reading technical books is mostly not a real page turner event.
But the Phoenix Project is different! While working with the ALM Rangers on a new project, Sam Guckenheimer mentioned the Phoenix Project as a great book so I ordered my copy and couldn’t stop reading.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

The Phoenix Project is a novel about a company that, if you work in the IT or in a company that uses IT (so practically everyone) will recognize.

It shows the struggles of Parts Unlimited to keep up with competition in a world that keeps changing. In the end, Parts Unlimited adopts a DevOps way of working and learns quite while implementing it.

What I found surprising about this book was how much I can relate to everything that’s happening. You almost feel the pain of another deployment going wrong or a manager trying to push his little side project to the top of the line.

And then you see how they turn things around and you start feeling better.

If you work in an IT company that resembles the way Parts Unlimited works, this book is a must read. Not only for yourself but for your manager and every other person in your company.

Now the interesting question is, how can you apply all the principles from this book while working with products like Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server and Azure but that’s for another blog Winking smile

Have you read the Phoenix Project? Did you like it? Or do you know of similar books that are worth reading? Please leave a comment!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What I learned at the Microsoft ALM Summit

Last week I had the privilege of visiting Barcelona. A beautiful city with some great places to visit, nice weather and really nice food. But that wasn’t the goal of my visit.
Microsoft organized the West European ALM Summit in Barcelona last week. The ALM Summit is a partner event where all ALM partners have a change to get the latest ALM news and meet there fellow colleagues.

So from breakfast with Sam Guckenheimer to drinks with Craig Kitterman, the ALM summit is a great place to meet people and learn directly from Microsoft.


The summit took two days. One day was focused on Cloud, the other day on Mobile. Which isn’t strange since Microsoft is a ‘Mobile first, Cloud first’ company.

Microsoft is really targeting the Cloud with its ALM innovations. From the new Cloud Deployment Projects to Dev/Test, ALM and Cloud go hand in hand as far as Microsoft is concerned.
Although I understand their goals, this sometimes means that new features have no value to customers who are solely on-premises. Of course Microsoft hopes that ALM Partners help customers move to Azure.

This is why Microsoft is pushing on using Azure for Dev/Test scenarios. And to be clear, Dev/Test on Azure is a great scenario. It’s cheap and flexible and with the Virtual Network support Azure offers, it’s also secure.

One particular area that was discussed are the MSDN benefits for Azure. Did you know that as a developer with an MSDN subscription you have free monthly credits for Azure? Depending on if you have a Professional, Premium or Ultimate subscription you get between $50 and $150 Azure credits a month that you can use to experiment with Azure and run small workloads.

In addition to Dev/Test scenarios, Visual Studio Online is also complimentary to your on-premises TFS environment. For example, Application Insights and Cloud Load Testing are features that you can use without storing any code in VSO but that really complement your on-premises TFS.


The second day was all about Mobile. What I found particularly interesting was the comparison between Cordova and Xamarin. For example, Microsoft said they used Cordova for the Connect() event app. This app is only used for one or two days and is mostly about displaying data. Cordova is a great solution for apps that don’t require a great performance or deep interaction with the device.

Especially with the new Cordova support for Visual Studio, Cordova is something you should
consider for ‘quick and dirty’ apps. Xamarin is on a whole other level. This is if you want to invest in a quality app that runs natively on a device.


What is totally clear is that MIcrosoft is focusing on DevOps with their ALM platform. This means that Microsoft invests in tooling that makes DevOps practices easier.

If you understand this focus it’s easier to understand why tooling like Smart Unit Tests is being released instead of investments in Coded UI.

Forrester gave a presentation where they showed that DevOps is required for succeeding in developing modern applications. For example, the most popular apps in the different app stores are all updated on a daily to weekly basis. This can’t be done without a good DevOps implementation.

So Microsofts vision is clear. They are really pushing on Mobile and Cloud and are underpinning this with their ALM tooling. Visual Studio 2015, Visual Studio Online and Azure will be the future of their investments and if we want to stay up to date as ALM consultants that’s where we should focus.

All in all, it where a nice couple of days and I’m looking forward to the summit next year! Are you looking into Cloud, Mobile and DevOps on the Microsoft stack? Please let me know!