Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) offers a lot of benefits to most teams over Team Foundation Server (TFS), and this post is designed to help you understand what those benefits are and start taking advantage of the solution yourself!
Before we dive into the details, here are a few handy resources for you to check out:
- Migrate from Team Foundation Server to Visual Studio Team Services – in-depth information regarding the fundamental differences between TFS and VSTS
- Visual Studio Team Services Features Timeline – giant list of features that are/will be in TFS and features that are available now in VSTS
- Visual Studio Team Services resource page – our resource page containing commonly asked questions, media, and contact info if you would like our help with moving to VSTS!
This list contains a few of the top reasons to move to VSTS:
We work with various organizations, small or large, to upgrade their instances of Team Foundation Server in order to keep up with the latest and greatest features. Like most software that you install on-premises, upgrading is the only way to gain access to new features. Since TFS is often used by many people in an organization, you need to plan, schedule, test, and validate. This may take days, weeks, or even months.
With VSTS, you don’t need to worry about major upgrades that you need to upgrade yourself. Microsoft handles the upgrades in approximately three-week intervals to VSTS without downtime and features that get deployed out to the public often get deployed internally then to partners first so you know that there has been plenty of testing. You can see the full list of features that have been added with the Features Timeline resource link above which also has blog posts for each release that give details about those new features. You’re always on the latest and greatest features in VSTS.
One of the greatest pains for a lot of organizations that we work with when using TFS is the cost for hosting TFS on-premises. The cost may seem like just the cost for the machines (hardware, electricity), but there’s actually a lot more that adds up to that: You need IT folks to manage the machines themselves with patching, backups/disaster recovery, etc. but also SQL experts to manage upgrades, backups/disaster recovery of the databases that TFS uses. Not to mention if you also use Reporting Services and SharePoint, those add additional resource costs. The cost for these teams’ (resources) time to maintain the servers adds up to more than just the machines.
In VSTS, you don’t have to manage any of the infrastructure. Microsoft takes care of the machines that VSTS runs on, and all of the maintenance listed before for your own peace of mind. It’s as simple as that!
More organizations need to support geographically-dispersed teams based on business needs. You can take TFS and add an SSL certificate so that it’s publicly available for external parties or other teams, or you can set up VPN access for remote teams, but you need to consider all of the options and manage access (re: costs of resources).
In VSTS, any team member that has permission to the account can log in through a secure fashion. For instance, teams can integrate VSTS with Azure Active Directory for use with AD accounts and enable multi-factor authentication on the accounts for secure access. VSTS uses Microsoft Azure with globally-available services so that users can access VSTS accounts around the world.
Always On, Always There
Like most other applications, organizations need to plan and maintain disaster recovery and high availability so that there won’t be downtime for users if something breaks unexpectedly. If an unexpected event does happen, everyone necessary will need to work together to resolve the issue.
When using VSTS, you won’t need to worry about backups or disaster recovery since that is handled for you. If there is an unanticipated issue in VSTS, Microsoft will communicate cause and resolution through the Service Blog.
Some organizations will believe that nothing is safer than having databases and machines hosted on-premises (some may even think that physical machines are the safest). When the cloud first became a solution for hosting applications and code, the big question was, “How can the cloud be safer for my data?” We certainly can’t make any promises, but Microsoft knows that they are a big target and takes a lot of precautions to be more secure.
With VSTS, Microsoft takes hosting your data very seriously. They published a whitepaper that helps to understand exactly how they host your data, Visual Studio Team Services Data Protection Overview. In some ways, it may be that after reading this, you find that VSTS uses security practices more thoroughly than you do. Since VSTS is hosted in Azure and many organizations have compliance requirements, the whitepaper explains that Microsoft has achieved HIPAA, BAA, and SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 certifications. Microsoft also has recommendations for additional steps you can take when adopting VSTS such as AAD and two-factor authentication.
There are other benefits that Visual Studio Team Services offers but these have been just a few of the most important reasons for moving to VSTS.