Application lifecycle management tools: A buyer's guide to ALM software
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
Microsoft Visual Studio Online is a cloud-based application lifecycle management (ALM) and development operation platform that provides organizations of all sizes with Agile project management, team collaboration, Web-based test planning and test case management. Accessed through a Web browser and supporting any programming language, the platform integrates with Visual Studio, which is often run on Windows, Mac OS X operating systems or within Eclipse. While some of the product's capabilities have limitations based on Microsoft's default build configuration, users can add additional software in order to support their build automation.
Microsoft Visual Studio Online's components include Version Control, with which users can store and collaborate on code anywhere with private team projects. Version control supports any language, as well as any Git client, including Xcode. Java teams can access code and work items through a free plugin for Eclipse and run continuous integration builds based on configuration files from Ant or Mavin.
Tools for Agile teams, including customizable Kanban boards, the Scrum feature and dashboards, capture, prioritize, backlog and track progress. Work items link directly to code to ensure transparency and can be used to custom-build dashboards based on individual projects' and teams' needs. With continuous integration builds that compile and test applications automatically after any code change, users can monitor progress and developments at all development stages. Continuous delivery automatically deploys applications or websites that pass tests.
Microsoft Visual Studio Online supports open standards
Microsoft Visual Studio Online integrates custom tool or third-party service, using open standards like RESTful APIs and OAuth 2.0. It also supports a set of native integrations that can be easily configured from your account dashboard. Built on the enterprise-grade infrastructure of Microsoft Azure and backed by a 99.9% service level agreement (SLA), data can be stored in local data centers to increase performance and safeguard compliance. The Azure Active Directory helps organizations compartmentalize and gather data. Cloud-based load testing allows users to generate tests from regions around the world to simulate the scale of hundreds of thousands of users.
The product's communication features include backlogs to define, prioritize and decompose the work for a project with drag-and-drop re-ordering. Backlogs can also be tracked and forecasted in order to anticipate upcoming changes in a project. The Scrum feature allows users to plan sprints, assign tasks and monitor progress in real time. Each backlog includes built-in Kanban boards that can be customized to suit individual workflows. Dashboards, charts and task boards can also be customized. Team Rooms host chats and messaging in order for groups to communicate and comment on any queries or tracking. Visual Studio Online is currently available in English only; Microsoft is working on support for additional languages.
After making an account online, prospective customers can purchase Visual Studio Online directly from Microsoft. The first five users of Visual Studio Online are free and there are several licensing options to choose from.
The Stakeholder license is a free license allowing team members to view Task and Kanban boards, dashboards and create and edit work items.
The Basic license has all the features of the Stakeholder license but also includes access to viewing portfolio backlogs, virtual team rooms and more. The Basic license pricing structure is based on the volume of users: 0-5 users are free, 6-10 users are $6 per user per month, 11-100 users are $8 per user per month, 101-1000 users are $4 per user per month and 1001 or more users are $2 per user per month.
The Professional license has all the features of Basic as well as a monthly license for Visual Studio Professional 2013 or later editions. The Professional license is $45 per user per month.
The Advanced license has all the features of Professional as well as web-based test case management, a monthly license for Visual Studio Test Professional 2015 or later editions and the ability to request and manage feedback. The Advanced license is $60 per user per month.
For Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers, Visual Studio Online is free and provides several benefits, including Visual Studio Professional with MSDN. Advanced members receive Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN or Visual Studio Premium with MSDN, MSDN platforms and Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN. Microsoft offers several licensing options for MSDN, with prices ranging from $699 to $6,119 for the first 12 months, with lower prices offered to customers renewing an existing license.
Microsoft's website provides basic support through FAQs and forums. Premium support provides a more comprehensive support for various problems and can be paid per-incident or through a support contract. Microsoft encourages users to contact them directly by phone or their website's chat feature for specific information on support pricing.
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