Release Management in TFS 2015 Update 2

With the release of Team Foundation Server 2015 Update 2 at //Build 2016, you get all the new Release Management (RM) features integrated right into TFS. The Release hub in the TFS web interface is your entry point to managing and tracking all of your application deployments.

 

 

Here is a quick run through of the various features in Release management.

  • Deploy a variety of apps to a variety of cloud or on-premises targets. See examples.
  • Orchestrate the deployment of your apps across various environments. Understand environments.
  • Deploy artifacts that are published by Team Build or Jenkins. Understand artifacts.
  • Track builds, commits, test results, and work items for every release and deployment. Understand tracking.

What is the pricing model for the new RM features in TFS?

Since RM is part of TFS, you have to be a valid user of TFS to use Release hub. The good news is that, for Update 2, we are making all the features of RM available to all users of TFS at Basic access level in Trial mode. If you are a Basic user, then you can now author release definitions as well as manage releases. To approve or reject releases, you just need to be a Stakeholder.

So, you might ask, what will be the cost of RM once the Trial mode is over? We are still working on this, but if you are a user with the following licenses, you can expect to have all the features of RM.

·         Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN
·         Visual Studio Enterprise – annual
·         Visual Studio Enterprise – monthly
·         MSDN Platforms
·         Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN

We have a few challenges that we still need to solve with this approach, and that is why we haven’t gone to this model yet. First, in addition to the above licenses, we would like Basic users to get all the features by simply buying an extension in the Visual Studio Marketplace in an ala-carte/monthly rental model. We are yet to finalize the price and implementation of this extension. Secondly, we would like to provide a way for Basic users to “try” Release management without having to pay (either for the extension or for the licenses above). We are exploring some models for this. Once we have a solution to these challenges, we will announce the final pricing model.

What about the server-client (WPF) version?

If you are a user of the earlier server-client (WPF) version of RM, we have a 2015 Update 2 for that version as well. You can expect one more minor update of the server-client version, and after that, we do not plan to ship any more releases of this. Although we will continue to support this version for quite some time, this is a good time for you to think about moving to the new web-based version. There is no automatic migration from the server-client version to the web-based version. However, there is some guidance on how to manually migrate from the server-client version to the web-based version here.

As you compare the earlier version with the web-based version, you will notice a ton of new features in the new one, and that the new version is a lot easier to use. However, at present, you may also find three apparent gaps – manual intervention, rollback support, and configuration transformations in an environment. While we can certainly improve upon the experience for these features, you can certainly meet these requirements now. In place of manual intervention, simply split your environment into two environments with an approval in between. In place of rollback, use the guidance documented here. For tokenization of config files in an environment, use the Tokenization task in this extension.

If you have questions or would like to get updates, follow us on Twitter @vsreleasemgmt. Happy DevOps!