Anarka Fairchild is an engineer with Microsoft, and she’s our lunch time keynote. Her talk is squarely focused on the emergence of DevOps, and how that term is both abused and misused, yet still a goal that many want to achieve.

From the Microsoft perspective (did I mention Anarka is with Microsoft? OK, now I have 😉 ), DevOps starts with a solid Application Lifecycle Management Plan. It’s not just technology and toolsets, but a mindset and cooperative approach to everything in the delivery pipeline for the business. Their approach starts with planning, and that planning should include development and test from the get go (yes, I can get behind this!).

Next, development and test link up and work to develop and proof the code in concert, with an emphasis on unit tests. Cross platform build agents are more important than ever, so Microsoft is leveraging the ability to build on many environments (Windows, Linux, iPhone, Android, etc.). Next up is release and deployment and Anarka walked us through the approach Microsoft uses to manage the release and deployment process. Finally, the end step (not really the end, but the start of the loop back) is Monitor and Learn. By evaluating usage stats, analytics, and taking advantage of reporting tools, we can look at all of these details and bring us back to “Do”.

So what should we consider when we are building modern apps? Three areas that Anarka identified were Quality Enablement, Agile Planning and Developer Operations. Typically, QA has historically been left to the end of the development life cycle. I don’t need to repeat that this is inefficient (not to mention kinda’ dangerous) in that we find bugs too late. Microsoft looks to be aiming to make quality enablement a central tenant of their development process.

Conceptually, this all sounds pretty interesting, but for me personally, due to the fact that I live in a Linux development world, much of the presentation is too product specific. If it seems like I’m being slim on details, it’s because there’s a lot of Microsoft specific componentry being discussed. Having said that, I do like the fact that there is an emphasis on making tools and capabilities better for us plebes :). For those who work in Microsoft shops, it sounds like there a lot to play with for y’all :).