Recently I had an interesting meeting with a customer facing several challenges in managing operations of a complex hosting infrastructure. The main challenges were resulting out of the fact that the customer himself does the operation and the overall project management but the software components and functionalities of the platform which are provisioned to the subscribing customers are all delivered by third party companies. Main problem areas are:
- Requirments Management across the diverse teams and suppliers
- Buildmanagement including tracking and versioning
- Common document formats and document versioning to keep track of changes
- Configuration and change managemen
- Central repository for all project artefacts
- Common communication schemes and patterns
As this is exactly the disciplines that Microsoft adresses with the new Visual Studio Team System with the Team Foundation Server. However the interesting schema here is to include the third party companies into the Team Foundation Server infrastructure. Obviously the design and architecture team for TFS within Microsoft included this scenario when defining the requirements and completing the overall architecture as there is support for remote offices by means of a proxied topology supported by TFS. This was mainly intended for intra organization development teams with a focus of improving access performance for remote project members and offices. However the design team also addressed security requirements by implementing a pre authenticating ticketing scheme that alongside authN also allows to do authZ verification on a requested resource. So this may enable us also to build up a distributed infrastructure for my customer's scenario. However some challenges still remain. E.g. it might be complex to set up the projects and project security structures so that a third party is only allowed to access only special resources and only a subset of project items with limited details, etc. we are going to further investigating this and hope to come up with a feasable solution.
So I'm also looking for people who use or intend to use TFS in a similar scenario in order to share thoughts and ideas. So feel free to contact me.
More information about proxied scenarios with TFS are available here: