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Clear up confusion about different versions of Azure DevOps

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In this post I want to clear up confusion about different versions of Azure DevOps. Because I know some exists.

In fact, I have had a lot of questions relating to this during sessions.

By the end of this post, you will realize that there are only two main different versions of Azure DevOps and why there is confusion about it.

Of course, this post will not cover every piece of jargon. However, if there is a particular one you think is worth covering feel free to reach out to me.

Confusion about Azure DevOps name

Now there seems to be a bit of confusion about the name of Azure DevOps due to various reasons.

In reality, there is only two main versions of Azure DevOps.

First version is Azure DevOps Services, which was previously known as Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). It’s worth knowing that a lot of the older documentation online still refers to it as VSTS. In addition, some items in the Azure DevOps marketplace refers to VSTS well.

In reality, Azure DevOps Services is what most people mean when they refer to Azure DevOps.

Second version is Azure DevOps Server, which is based on the application Team Foundation Server that you install on your own servers. It’s now been rebranded to look and feel just like Azure DevOps Cloud Services.

It’s the same concept as SQL Server having years after their names whilst Azure SQL Database keeps the same name.

For example, the original release was Azure DevOps Server 2019, which I covered installing in an older post here. Latest major release is Azure DevOps Server 2020. Plus, just like SQL Server there is also an express edition as well for five or less users. You can read more about that in detail here.

In reality, there are benefits to using either version. However, personally I prefer Azure DevOps Services. Purely because it is a lot easier to setup. In addition, I don’t have to patch and maintain servers.

Why is there confusion?

So, why is there confusion about the different versions of Azure DevOps? Well, often it is because people have different experiences when using it.

Now there’s plenty of reasons for why experiences can be different. Including the below list.

  1. Project Administrators have customized the project.
  2. Permissions set at the project or organization level.
  3. Somebody is using a Visual Studio or MSDN Platform subscription.
  4. Type of Azure DevOps license in use.

As far as first two items are concerned, these are often done for various reasons. For example, when a project has had various extensions installed to help them get the most out of Azure DevOps.

Another good example is when a project has had some services turned off. Like the one below which only has Azure Repos and Azure Pipelines enabled.

Potential reason why confusion about different versions of Azure DevOps
Project with Azure Boards and Azure Pipelines enabled

Some of you may be wondering why Azure Test Plans appears to be greyed out. Well, that’s because Azure Boards is set to off.

Often, points three and four in the list above can be noticed the most when using Azure Test Plans. Because you can access more features in Azure Test Plans with them. You can read more about that in detail here.

Default experience with Azure DevOps

You can see the default experience with Azure DevOps yourself if you create your own personal Azure DevOps organization. Something I covered in a previous post here.

Main versions of Azure DevOps

To summarize, there are two main versions of Azure DevOps. Azure DevOps Services and Azure DevOps Server. Azure DevOps Services is the cloud-based version and Azure DevOps Server is the one you install on your servers yourself.

Of course, either of these could change name over time just like SQL Server related services in Azure have over the years.

I think it’s a compliment that people think there are more versions. Because it shows just how much you can customize it to suit your needs.

Final word

Anyway, I hope I was able to clear up confusion about different versions of Azure DevOps for some of you.

If you have any comments or queries about this post feel free to reach out to me.

Published inAzure DevOps


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