Blue Monday: Azure DevTest Labs Is Generally Available

Another week of not-much-interesting happening in new Microsoft Azure features for developers, save that DevTest Labs is now generally available.

Basically, DevTest Labs is a means of quickly spinning up preconfigured, disposable virtual machines. It’s a packaging of the features inherent in resource groups, Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates, and role-based access control lists.

I can see some value in this if your company isn’t ready for cloud-first deployments / wants or needs to keep application servers on premises: Using Azure for temporary test-environment deployments makes a lot of sense, especially in terms of cost.

I also see value in this approach for large, distributed teams; it’s easier to grant certain users permission to spin up testing resources, directly from Visual Studio, than it is to route everything through a CIO at the home office. And I guess DevTest Labs makes sense if you’re primarily developing desktop software: Create a few VM images configured as you might encounter them in the real world; spin up workstation instances; test; nuke.

Overall, I don’t see the point behind DevTest Labs. The immediate reason is because I can already use PowerShell and ARM templates to automate this kind of provisioning.

But in the long view, it especially makes little sense. The Microsoft development world is moving toward platform-as-a-service, containers and HTML5 / Universal Windows Apps*; seems to me giving a quick and easy means for developers to deploy virtual machines is kind of like holding on to Windows 7. It’s convenient, but you’re riding convenience right into the grave.

*: As of this writing, the MSDN documentation for Universal Windows Apps is a nightmare of 404s. I appreciate Microsoft attempting to improve docs and the need to move things around when that happens. It’s also nice they have code on Github and encourage Stack Overflow. But Microsoft can’t make the kind of mess they’ve made of the UWP documentation and expect anyone to actually use it.

Odds and ends

**: Don’t bother submitting comments about how evil Red Hat is or how Company Z uses Debian or whatever. It’s fine if you don’t like Red Hat. Nobody said you had to like them. But your hatred doesn’t change the fact that it’s often the first choice of large corporations.
Featured photo by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay, in the public domain.
Featured photo by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay, in the public domain.

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