Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) - Microsoft Team Foundation Server

Accelerate Build-Deploy-Test Workflows by Dynamically Creating Scalable Test Environments in Skytap Cloud

Enterprises today are looking for ways to accelerate their rate of innovation, increase revenues, and lower the costs of software development and delivery. Agile development and testing methodologies are increasingly being adopted as a central means to accelerate the delivery or new software products to market. Accordingly, many application lifecycle management (ALM) products are being upgraded – or designed from scratch – to support the Agile development and delivery model. For many companies, Continuous Integration (CI) – the practice of frequently integrating developers’ new or changed code with the existing code repository so that there is no intervening window between code commit and build, and so that no errors can arise without developers noticing them and correcting them immediately – represents the ultimate model for modern software application development and testing.

Cloud computing, with it’s inherent characteristics of elasticity, scale, self-service, and on-demand automation, is increasingly being adopted as a way to realize the full potential of Agile development and to move towards a model of Continuous Integration.

But a key question remains: How can developers and testers use their preferred ALM tools and processes in place today and seamlessly integrate on-premise and cloud infrastructure to achieve sustained increases in speed, agility, and team productivity?


Skytap Automation Pack for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012

The Skytap Automation Pack for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 brings together the best of both worlds, providing the automated scale and elasticity of cloud infrastructure coupled with popular Microsoft ALM tools in use today. The Skytap Automation Pack is software that installs on Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012, providing workflow automation and seamless integration with Skytap Cloud. With this integrated solution, customers can:

  • Run TFS on-premise and automatically spin-up, run, and tear down complex Microsoft development and testing environments in Skytap Cloud on-demand
  • Dynamically provision secure VPN network connectivity between test environments in Skytap Cloud and TFS without manual intervention
  • Create “golden templates” of complete test environments in Skytap Cloud using Microsoft Test Manager – automating the creation of identical clean environments for each test pass
  • Automatically snapshot and save entire test environments that fail in Skytap Cloud to investigate and diagnose root cause of test pass failures quickly
  • Review consolidated test pass reports using Microsoft Test Manager
  • Support complex testing requirements of n-tier applications with virtual test environments that are identical to production environments on-premise or in Microsoft Azure

The figure below shows a typical scenario for an integrated, continuous integration workflow using Skytap Cloud for the automated creation of dynamic testing environments together with an on-premise deployment of Visual Studio TFS 2012.

Visual Studio TFS Automation Pack

Existing on-premise Microsoft ALM infrastructure is connected to Skytap Cloud via secure VPN connections (via IPsec), which are dynamically created by the Skytap Automation Pack and using Skytap’s AutoNetworks™ technology. Because Skytap Cloud serves as a secure extension of on-premise infrastructure, customers have flexibility to migrate additional resource elements into Skytap Cloud, such as the TFS server.


Benefits for developers and test engineers include:

  • Fresh, identical test environments in Skytap Cloud on-demand. The Automation Pack enables a team to spin-up as many environments as they need from a known state, automatically, as part of their normal build-deploy-test (BDT) workflow in VS-TFS.
  • Parallelism. Enables different teams working in parallel on separate components of a product to have full, identical test environments working off the latest golden version of components delivered by other teams.
  • Save state for debugging failures. The Skytap Automation Pack runs automated test passes and automatically saves the entire test environment state as a unique template in cases of test pass failures to facilitate debugging after a failed test.
  • Easy, automated test infrastructure provisioning. The Skytap Automation pack eliminates the need to worry about the underlying infrastructure – automatically creating environments on the fly as they are needed
  • Scale with the growth of team, complexity, and product. With the Skytap Automation Pack, the underlying infrastructure platform scales in lock step with the growing needs of the team, enabling both systems integration testing and performance testing, while maintaining integration with Active Directory and all other system components.
  • Access virtual machines remotely via SmartClient™ or any RDP-capable client
  • Share complete environments and creatively collaborate via publish URL capability
  • Scale resources (CPU, memory, network) up and down on-demand

Benefits for IT I/O professionals include:

  • Seamlessly integrates with existing on-premise Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server environments – via a software install on TFS
  • Secure, hybrid cloud configuration with IPsec VPN connections with secure end points defined by IT administrator and connectivity dynamically established via the Skytap Automation Pack
  • Enforce network isolation and control on-premise enterprise user access
  • Maintain complete IT visibility and control – role-based access, quotas, notifications, and reporting
  • Empower end user teams to easily spin-up, run, and tear down complete testing environments on-demand – without IT management or intervention

Click here to learn more on the technical details behind the Skytap Automation Pack for Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012.