Sensing the growing interest in devops, Microsoft will incorporate a number of new tools in its next edition of Visual Studio that will allow developers to work more closely with operations personnel.
Microsoft revealed these features in a Thursday webcast introducing the next version of the company's IDE (Integrated Developer Environment), Visual Studio 2011. The company will release a beta of Visual Studio 11 on Feb. 29, along with a beta of version 4.5 of the .Net framework.
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"If you are working in a team environment, we will provide you with a set of tools to work in a highly productive and agile way," said Soma Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president of the development division, in an interview following the presentation.
Historically, developers have had problems getting "actionable feedback" from operations staff about the programs that the developers created, said Jason Zander, Microsoft corporate vice president for Visual Studio, during the presentation. Devops aims to solve this communication problem. It is an organizational philosophy and a set of customs for getting the two groups to work more closely together, so software can be rolled out more quickly and with fewer bugs.
An arbitrary wall "exists between the development community and the operations community in any enterprise," Somasegar said, noting that this divide has grown over the last 30 years.
"The development team takes the requirements and builds the application. Once they are finished, they throw it over the wall for the operations community to deploy. That's fine if everything goes well, but if there is a problem, [operations staff] is stuck," Somasegar said.
The developers often have to re-create the problem on their own, often using only vague information from the operations staff. Very few tools exist that allow operators to communicate issues to the developers in a way that the developers find useful. Microsoft has developed a number of new features and extensions for Visual Studio 2011 that will help the two parties work more closely together, Somasegar said.
One feature is a bridge to Microsoft System Center 2012, a management tool used by operators or system administrators. When a program crashes, System Center's Operation Manager collects a set of diagnostic information, such as a stack trace, that can be used by the developer to pinpoint the bug. With a click of a mouse from within System Center, the administrator can pipe that information directly over to the developer.
"That allows the operations person to work in the tool they know, which is System Center, and allows the developer to work in the tool they know, which is Visual Studio. The ops person doesn't have to figure out what a call stack is or how the software was written," Zander said.