Change is in the air: TFS Admin & Ops

Team Foundation Server v1.0 has shipped. As is apparently tradition with Microsoft (and doubtless many other companies), product ship has triggered a “reorg” which could be reasonably compared to Musical Chairs, a pot-luck dinner, and perhaps even the Boston Tea Party (you had to be there…). Some people leave the org, a few join, and there's plenty of movement within the product unit as well.


The QA team’s shuffle was almost entirely “self-organized”, within reasonable constraints (there still has to be the right mix of leaders and followers, enough but not too many people for each feature area, etc.).


I chose to join a project that has coalesced from what was, for most of the v1 product cycle, a “virtual” team spread across the major product feature units. This new team is (almost) exclusively dedicated to improving the experience when administering and operating Team Foundation Servers, hence the catchy working name: Admin & Ops.


There are several qualities that one would associate with a product being “enterprise-ready”:

  • It can be monitored and managed easily and remotely (e.g. from an admin’s desk, rather than box itself; multiple servers can be managed as a group)

  • It has a “good” backup story

  • It easily scales upwards and downwards as the needs of the enterprise change

  • It plays well with any other enterprise components on which it depends

  • and so on (there are probably others - this is my personal take on the subject)

Our v1 product meets some these areas quite well; in other areas, there is room for improvement.  We’re already talking to various Enterprise customers (internally and externally) about their needs, but I’m very interested to hear from anyone in the field who monitors or maintains a Team Foundation Server:


  • When it comes to managing TFS, what (for you) are “the good, the bad, and the ugly” aspects?
  • Is there one feature or tool or capability that would make your job a lot easier?
  • Are there specific features (like a MOM pack) that would substantially improve your “TFS integration story” within your enterprise, or is the ability to do something more important than HOW those abilities are surfaced? Another way to ask this question:
  • If we were considering an admin web portal or a standalone thick client, would you have a strong preference for one of those possibilities?

My ego and my clothes are flame-retardant, so don’t hesitate to be brutally honest if there are things you don’t like or “can’t imagine how M$ shipped without this!


Adam Singer is also along for the ride on “AO QA”. Everyone else in QA is in either on another project, not blogging, or (gasp) doesn’t work for Microsoft yet! Did I mention that we’re hiring?


It's a kind of magic...

Comments (12)
  1. Raimond Brookman asks the question: How does MSBuild build a solution?

    Clark Sell asks the question:…

  2. 123 says:

    One thing that would be nice is a centralized location to deal with users and permissions throughout the 3 products involved (TFS, SP, RS)

  3. Chris says:

    We read you loud on clear on that one, "123". Having to manage the same users in up to three different places is a recipe for trouble.

    We’re looking at a couple possible ways to make this better.

  4. 123(Keith) says:

    Sorry about the 123! Was looking for information on incremental builds on TFS and found your blog.. But anyways.. There is a TFS Administration tool out there that handles the security for the 3 different applications. It is called "TFS Administration Tool", although I am sure you guys have heard about it.

  5. Adam Singer says:

    As Chris mentions, he and I are the shiny new test team for Admin & Ops in Team Foundation. First…

  6. Now that Team Foundation Server version 1 shipped, we’re doing a little load balancing between the Redmond…

  7. Chris says:

    Keith: Yes we’ve heard about it. I’d like to go at least one step farther if possible. For example, we need things like being able to manage multiple TFS servers from a single (admin) console, some folks are interested in seeing TFS-specific status in MOM, etc.

    But in the mean time, of course, the TFS Admin tool can be quite helpful.

  8. curedone says:


    The establishment of Admin & Ops task force is something we were waiting to happen for quite some time.

    Our company has indeed encountered several challenges during implementing TFS for our clients, both in administration and CM policies enforcement areas. To provide better experience and bridge the gap existing in v1 we even went one step further and developed a few applications for version control administration (TFS VC Sidekicks available for download at

    Nowdays, we have several additional applications in development and would be happy to share our thoughts on the subject, both for TFS v1 and future versions. If you are interested, drop me a line to eugenez_at_attrice_dot_info.

    Yours truly,


  9. CRathjen says:

    Curedone: Thanks for the feedback (and the SideKicks look pretty nifty!). I’ve forwarded your response to the rest of the team.

  10. Mike says:

    Not sure if this fits in your feature area or not but for a large enterprise sharing a single TFS instance across business units it would be nice if each user could only see Team Projects they had access to (not just can’t access it but so it doesn’t even show up in the list of Team Projects for the server they’re connecting to).  We’re building quite a large list of Team Projects in our enterprise and it’s getting messy to work with and hard to find the project you want.

  11. CRathjen says:

    Actually, this just came up recently as an issue for another customer.

    I think we’ll improve this a little in the next version; but in the meantime, there is a workaround (this is quoted from Bill Essary):

    1)       Launch Visual Studio and open the Team Explorer

    2)       Right click on the project node

    3)       Select Team Project Settings::Security

    4)       Select [SERVER]Team Foundation Valid Users

    5)       Clear the Allow checkbox for “view project level information”

    Users only in the valid users group won’t be able to see the selected project, afterwards. I think you’d next want to make sure that project’s permission groups have this permission (since they’d normally inherit it from being in Valid Users).

    Let me know if that helps (and especially if it doen’t!).

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