Microsoft releases ALM platform

Microsoft will this month release Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server, a code development platform designed to help maintain the quality of application code.

Microsoft will this month release Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server, a code development platform designed to help maintain the quality of application code.

Team Foundation Server is an application lifecycle management (ALM) platform, co-ordinating code development processes among teams of programmers who are using Visual Studio 2005 Team System client, which is already available.

Team Foundation Server replaces the application version control tool Visual Sourcesafe and folds five databases into a single datawarehouse using an SQL Server database as the central data repository for code and project information.

Team Foundation Server supports software development with version control, reporting, work item tracking, process guidance and automated build capabilities.

The drive towards ALM - which aims to address the need of corporate users' to better manage extended and often geographically-dispersed development teams - has been welcomed by analysts.

Bola Rotibi, senior analyst for software development strategy at Ovum, said the platform marked Microsoft's first real step toward its Digital Systems Initiative (DSI), which focuses on business method modelling and process automation.

She added that developers will benefit from the tight integration with the Visual Studio environment, meaning they can stay in their environment to accomplish different code maintenance tasks.

It also allows programmers to access data held in Microsoft Excel and Project, which is useful from a management perspective, said Rotibi.

Another strength is Team Foundation Server's ability to tie together the pre-deployment and production environments, using a logical datacentre diagram onto which developers can map the configuration of the physical datacentre to help optimise their code. It uses a concept called shelving, allowing programmers to work locally and check into the Team Foundation Server without affecting the build of the software.

Rotibi said, "It has long been a complaint that developers work in silos with no regard for what other roles do. Team Foundation negates that and allows developers to work on their own environment but also work together, bringing a context to their work."

What it will cost you

Team Foundation Server is priced at £1,878 per SQL Server instance, allowing content to be viewed for free. Users require a Client Access Licence (£289) to interact with content.

There are three versions of the main Visual Studio Team 2005 System client: Team Edition for software testers, Team Edition for software developers and Team Edition for software architects, each licensed at £3,670.

A single licence includes a five-seat Client Access Licence for Team Foundation Server if the user also takes out a subscription to Microsoft's developer support programme - MSDN Premium - which is included in the price.

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