Pricing for Release Management in TFS “15”

[Update on  Nov 16, 2016] This article is now outdated. With the RTM version of TFS 2017, we have the final pricing model for Release Management. For more information, see our official documentation.

Since the new version of Release Management was introduced in TFS 2015 Update 2, it has been in “trial mode“. Any user with Basic access level was able to access all features of Release Management. For the last few months, we have been hard at work to finalize the pricing model for Release Management in time for the release of TFS “15” RTM. We wanted a model that:

  • makes Release Management available to all Basic users in a team
  • is free for small teams, and is competitive as the complexity in an organization increases
  • is equally applicable to both TFS and VSTS
  • is uniform across Build and Release Management in VSTS
  • provides value to Visual Studio Enterprise subscriptions

Based on all of these, here is a summary of the pricing model that we have finalized so far for Release Management in TFS “15”.:

Per-user charge
  1. All Release Management features, including authoring of release definitions, are included in TFS CAL.
Release pipelines
  1. Run one release pipeline at a time for free per Team Foundation Server.
  2. Buy additional concurrent pipelines for $15/concurrency each month.
  3. The contribution of Visual Studio subscriptions in increasing the number concurrent release pipelines will be finalized soon.

Let us now look at what this model means in more detail.

  • No additional per-user charge: You do not pay per user any more for Release Management. Earlier versions of Release Management (Release Management Server 2013) required Visual Studio Test Professional or Enterprise subscriptions for users in order for them to author release definitions. That is no longer the case. Just like Build, Release Management can be used by all users in your TFS as long as they have a Basic access level or TFS CAL. Just like before, Stakeholders can continue to approve or reject releases even without a Basic access level or TFS CAL.
  • No charge for agents: You do not pay for agents for Release Management. Register any number of agents with your TFS.
  • Charge for concurrent pipelines: The primary metered entity for Release Management is the number of pipelines you can run at a time. A pipeline is just a single release. By default, you an always run one pipeline at a time for free. Additional releases that you create will be queued automatically. When you deploy a release to several environments in parallel, all the deployments still count as one pipeline, since they are part of a single release.
  • Buy ala-carte: You can also buy additional release pipelines concurrency from Visual Studio marketplace without having to buy an entire Visual Studio Enterprise subscription.

This new pricing model is in effect starting from TFS “15” RC2. The only option that is still not available in RC2 is the ability to buy ala-carte extensions from the Marketplace. This work is in progress, and is expected to complete by TFS “15” RTM.

When you upgrade to TFS “15” RC2 or above, you will notice that:

  • Release Management is not in “trial mode” any more.
  • All Basic users in your server can access all Release Management features.
  • The number of concurrent pipelines that you can run is set to the free limit of “1” per server.
  • The “Resource limits” page under Settings -> Build and Release tab is where you manage the number of concurrent pipelines for your server.

To understand your true cost of Release Management, there is one key question that you need to answer – How many pipelines do I need to run at the same time? We believe that the one free concurrent pipeline gets a small sized team started for free. A rule of thumb is to count one pipeline for every 10 users in your server or account. Even for large accounts or installations (with around 200-500 users), it is unlikely that more than 20-50 pipelines run at a time.

We plan to complete the official documentation for this pricing model in the next few weeks before the release of TFS “15” RTM. We will also include the pricing model for Release Management in Team Services as part of that documentation. This blog is intended to provide guidance to users of Release Management as the above pricing features are being released in TFS “15” RC2.

Release Management Team

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