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Release Management Overview for TFS and VSTS

Release Management Overview for TFS and VSTS

02nd Sep, 2016



Release Management is a DevOps solution for Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Server which can help you automate software deployment and testing in many different environments. With Release Management, you can either have full automation of software or partial automated processes with approvals and on-demand deployments. This is a really important element of DevOps which helps teams to continuously deliver software faster and with lower risk.


Part 1: Features in Release Management


In this part I’m going to describe some important features in Release Management. It’s very important to know that it can help you to automate your deployments and to set up continues deployment. You can deploy regularly through different production environments using managed workflows and even to multiple platforms.


It can use manual or automated steps for approval of workflows and have great impact on collaboration and transparency between teams. You can also have full trails history as it tracks the status of recent deployments in each of the environments.


The control and security are another two important features, as you can selectively restrict which users can manage or just view release entities.


Another great feature is to create your own workflows. You can custom PowerShell scripts for deployment and for deployment of Artifacts from TFS and VSTS build.


Part 2: Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) vs. Team Foundation Server (TFS)


Team Foundation Server is available in two different forms: on-premises and online. The latter version is known now as Visual Studio Team Services (before it was Visual Studio Online or VSO). The cloud service is supported with Microsoft’s cloud platform, Microsoft Azure. It uses the same code as TFS on-premises and implements the most recent features. For Visual Studio Team Services, you don’t need any setup, you just need to sign in with Microsoft account to set up an environment and then you can start with creating projects and adding team members. All new developed features are added to the cloud version first and they migrate approximately every three months to the on-premises version as updates.


Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) vs Team Foundation Server (TFS)




VSTS is updated online every three weeks with some new functionalities whereas TFS is updated only every three months. If you are using TFS on-premises, it’s highly recommendable to consider moving into VSTS. The most common reasons other organisations give for making this move are:


  • Simplified server management.
  • Immediate access to the latest and greatest features.
  • Improved connectivity with remote sites.
  • A transition from capital expenditures (servers and the like) to operational expenditures (subscriptions).