Here is how to create a super powerful Development & Test environment in the Azure Cloud which makes you really fast and efficient in your production line with development and continuous delivery! My example uses BizSpark but that's optional.

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Powerful Development & Test Environment in the Cloud

Do you wish to have a super powerful Development & Test environment in the Azure Cloud which makes you really fast and efficient in development and continuous delivery? It’s actually very easy to set up, but there are a few necessary steps along the way. This post describes briefly how to do this and links to a comprehensive tutorial video which in depth and step by step shows how to set up such a great production environment. I will exemplify using Microsoft BizSpark but any Azure Account can be used the same way.

Azure Accounts

Azure offers a wide range of different types of Accounts: Enterprise Agreement, paid by credit card, MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network), free trials and possibly more.

One of the greatest resources for Development & Test tools you’ll ever own is an MSDN subscription, which comes with a monthly Azure quota which you may spend on running your own Azure Development & Test environment.

In my video below I focus on Microsoft BizSpark which is a great offering for startups to receive lots of benefits for free from Microsoft during the startup of a new business venture. Among other things five MSDN Ultimate subscriptions are included in the package and each of those includes $150 worth of Azure time each month. Now I don’t mean to sound like a Microsoft sales person here, I am simply pointing out an obvious resource to consider when you start your new company!

The role of Azure Active Directory in Cloud Production

Regardless of which type of Azure Accounts you have they all get created with a “default” Azure Active Directory (AAD) and they all get created from a Microsoft Account (formerly Live Account). When you have multiple Azure accounts you will want to have a good overview of your Azure Accounts and be certain the correct access is granted to the correct people inside of  your organization. Perhaps standard developer accounts should be able to publish new releases to development/test and staging environments but not accidentally push a staged deployment to production? This can be handled using the fully integrated Role-based Access Control features of AAD. This is very important.

But you only need one AAD to control your Azure Accounts. Not one AAD per Azure Account. The video below will show you how to tie all of your Azure Accounts into the same AAD for easy management and security control.

Furthermore the same AAD can also be used to control users in Office 365 (O365) if you have that or plan to have that in your organization. And again the same AAD can be used with Visual Studio Online (VSO) if your organization chooses to use that.

What are the steps briefly

View this section as an intro to the video where you will be able to follow along with me and set up your own environment!

  • Join BizSpark: This step is optional, but if you are a startup you should love free stuff. BizSpark is packed full of free stuff!
  • Create MSDN subscriptions: You don’t have to have MSDN subscriptions – they are quite expensive. BizSpark come with five MSDN subscriptions if you wish. This is a really great way to get all the licenses you need for your organization including usage quotas on Azure.
  • Create Azure Accounts: As listed above there are many types of Azure Accounts. You will very likely end up having several/multiple in your organization.
  • Create your organizational AAD: For your organization you will only ever need one AAD tenant. It will have a {name} unique name and you can add custom domains if you like. The point here is use only one AAD to control and simplify access management for you.
  • Move Azure Accounts over to a single AAD: This is where it get’s really interesting. My video shows how to join multiple Azure Accounts with one single AAD.
  • Activate VSO and connect to the same AAD: This is another optional step. If your organization wants it can use VSO for source control (TFS style or git), project management (multiple methodology templates available) and build and deploy (most of it completely automated setup that you complete in seconds). Another important factor is that all VSO tenants come with five included fully featured licenses and each MSDN subscription you have in your organization adds another license. If you are a startup you get (via BizSpark) a fully functional, full featured souce control – project management – build and deploy service with zero maintenance and ten (10) licenses for free! For real – I kid you not!
  • Create a Project in VSO, a Website in Azure and setup continuous delivery upon git push: My video shows how to quickly create a Website in Azure, a project in VSO, connect the two and then push code into the repository of this project. The result is immediate continuous build and deployment to Azure with no fuss or issues at all. If you have Unit Tests these will automatically be built and executed and deploy will fail if a test fails.

The end result is this:

Five Azure Accounts

Your organization will have one AAD, one VSO, and any Azure accounts you like – all managed easily and cohesively by you! These resources removes to 100% your management of source control, build servers, project control system and development and test environments! It’s magical – for real!

The tutorial video

Here is my tutorial video. Follow the steps herein and you will win your very own #awesome Dev/Test environment!

Now you have all the tools you need to set up your very own GREATLY EFFECTIVE and POWERFUL Development & Test production line environment in the Azure Cloud! If you don’t do this – seriously – is that not considered a sackable offense?



Windows AzureMicrosoftContinuous Delivery
Posted by: Magnus Mårtensson
Last revised: 2015-03-17 10:15 History

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