Smooth Workspace for Everybody: Our Recipe…

Enjoy the upcoming summer with our recipe for a smooth workspace!

MyWorkspace by Matrix42

For their fans, smoothies are their daily portion of health and fitness and even make them happy, because they can be made without specific cooking skills and combine the properties and benefits of their ingredients into a balanced and effective mixture. What are the ingredients of a workspace solution that leads to happy end users, a happy IT department and a happy company alike?

smoothie

In many organizations, the happiness and fitness or productivity of end users, the IT department and the entire company are rather clouded, since work styles have undergone radical changes. While in the past administrators provisioned the required applications for their users on an in-house server within the company’s own data center, today’s provisioning and sourcing models are increasingly based on web or SaaS applications. Companies use at least ten and very often many more external SaaS applications, which results in a high degree of complexity for both…

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Git rid of your XAML builds – Migrate now

Have you recently migrated from TFS to Visual Studio Team Services?
Are you happy with that decision but the existing XAML based build definitions sucks? Then this article might help, as it explains the structure of the agent based build system, which is very powerful especially for companies with cross platform projects.

The Architecture

In the former days the XAML based build system used a dedicated build controller which was able to trigger a build via push. This meant that the build agent needed to be available from the build controller. Hosting build agents in the cloud or better build agents dynamically, was always a pain.

With the new step-based build system of Visual Studio Team Services, Microsoft simplified the architecture and removed the build controller out of the game. The only component which is required is a simple agent that needs to be installed. Based to Web-Sockets this agent does not need to be available from outside because the agent dials into the VSTS services and offers triggering build runs. This makes adding and removing build agents dynamically a breeze. Just prepare your AMI, VHD or other image and spin off new virtual machines if needed.

The Step System

The described new architecture also delivers a brand-new step-based build system. Editing complex XML based workflows in Visual Studio is not required any more. The author of a build-process can pick and choose pre-defined activities to execute a very specific build-step, e.g. compile source code, generate a web deploy package or sign files.

vso-build-def.png

At the end every build step is nothing more then a command line tool, that is executed in the context of the current build. Because of that, also the Command-Line-Activity is one of the most important actions in the step-based build system when it comes to more complex workflows.

vso-build-tasks.png

Cross-Product-Groups/Departments will love the possibility to create new custom activities, which can be used from other teams and groups within the company. This makes complex build tasks really easy to use for other teams. There is an important idea behind the new build system: “Let developers create the build, get rid of your dedicated build team.” In an Agile world we are talking so much about cross functional teams, that build management should become part of it.

Advanced features you should know about

Microsoft also delivers a couple of features in the new step-based build system to target more complex scenarios.

Multiple Build Agents on the same machine

There are no reasons for using just a single machine per registered build agent. If you would like to get the most out of your existing infrastructure, just install the Microsoft build agent multiple times on your build servers.

Tip: We are using 3 build agents on the same virtual machine which gives us a good utilisation regarding CPU and RAM. On Linux we switched to machines backed via SSD because of I/O intensive docker and Java builds

Release Processes vs. Build Processes

The new release process feature in VSTS is a great option to differentiate between building a pice of software and delivering a piece of software. Especially when the vendor works with a test chain it’s possible to move SaaS software through different states. Especially codeship becomes popular with this kind of feature set.

Push to HockeyApp

Microsoft acquired HockeyApp, a leading vendor in crash dump collection and beta app deployments for Android, iOS and Windows.

hockeyapp-integration.png

Related to this acquisition the Visual Studio Team Services team offers a seamless integration, which allows to upload your build directly to HockeyApp. This works on all required platforms, also on XCode builds for iOS or OS X. At Microsoft Build 2016 the HockeyApp team announces that Xamarin Insights becomes part of HockeyApp. Related to this check our the technical presentation of the HockeyApp team here.

Summary

With the new step-based build system Microsoft introduced in Visual Studio Team Services, a more flexible and simple-to-use option. Especially when you start with new projects, just use the step-based build system and do not invest in the old XAML builds. Software vendors who are writing software for different platforms can now use VSTS as a cloud based management tool, which means to get the most out of your MSDN benefits. Also when you are owning XAML based builds, invest in the migration. Microsoft recently announced that the XAML builds will be discontinued after 2016, so it’s time act.

Crankdesk on vcnrw

Great event, besides all other sessions check out session 7 if you would like to learn more about identity and access management 😉

Crankdesk...

Today i enjoy a day on the vcnrw community Event, managed by Timm and Helge. I am proud that i can say, that Matrix42 is sponsoring this great community with round about 100 people. This community is  about virtualization, datacenter and data Management.

Within the following blog entry, i will document the day and the session of room 1.

WP_20160420_08_32_39_Rich

Have fun…

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Workspace Boosters

MyWorkspace by Matrix42

Motivation Concept - Boost Button Press the boost button – what a workspace aggregator should do for you!

While “workout boosters” with impressive names are much talked about in sporting circles, they are mostly ineffective; “workspace boosters”, on the other hand, are real winners. And why would you need such “workspace booster”? The answer is simple: to help you master the transformation of the modern workplace into the workspace, cost-efficiently and with quite some productivity gains.

Obviously, the workplace 4.0 era has already been initiated, and it is characterized by variety and multiplicity:

  1. Multiple devices – People work with traditional PCs as well as laptops and mobile devices Already today, the average employee uses at least three devices and works in a multi-device environment.
  2. Multiple applications – People work with any kind of applications, from traditional, physically installed applications to SaaS apps and mobile applications, with web and SaaS applications enjoying particularly high growth rates.

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Azure Costs now supports Azure Rate Plans and Pay-as-you-Go subscriptions

The Azure Costs Team is happy to announce the launch of the new support for Azure Rate Plans & Pay-as-you-Go subscriptions. After an extensive beta together with many interested users, we are now ready to make this new feature globally available for everyone.

pay-go-plan-add

This feature completes Azure Costs and allows you to manage any subscription type and pricing model that Microsoft offers in the different regions for the Azure cloud.

Interested in managing Azure Rate Plans or Pay-as-you-Go subscriptions?
Try the new subscription support today by simply logging into your Azure Costs service. We also designed new plans explicitly for our users without an Enterprise Agreement. Customers who are currently using a payed plan, can connect additional subscriptions for free.

Any questions, wishes or ideas? Try our feedback portal or drop a mail to help@azure-costs.com.