Team Foundation Service (TFS On Azure) considerations

UPDATE! With the launch of Visual Studio 2013 some of the information in the post below has been updated!

With the Visual Studio Online (TFS in the cloud aka Team Foundation Service aka now out of preview (as per the 31st of October), it is time to make some considerations.

  • Is a transition to the Azure environment for ALM repositories a do or don’t?
  • What are the pro’s and con’s?

Out of my own experience I would like to share my opinions and some facts;

What is possible in Visual Studio Online:

  • Have your own TFS server up-and-running within 10 minutes
  • Version Control
  • Agile planning (backlog management, taskboard, product backlog board)
  • Feedback management
  • Build
  • (E-mail) Alerts
  • Project Dasboard (Burndown graph, work item counters, source control recent action counters, build result counters, Work Item Query graphs)
  • Teams
  • Team Rooms
  • Test Management
  • Software updates are automatically applied every 3 weeks

What is not possible in Team Foundation Service:

  • Process Template Customization
  • SharePoint Project Portal
  • Reporting Services reports
  • Full backup of the repositories and restore to an on-premises installation
  • Integration with Active Directory (this is not implemented yet), so users need to authenticate using a Windows Live account

Pricing wise, Microsoft didn’t reveal a lot new information is available as per 13-Nov-2013. Refer to for more information! It is a fact that up until 5 users, Visual Studio Online is free of charge. Beyond that, a pricing plan will be is developed, but it is still unclear what it will look like. There is however good news for MSDN subscribers; if you have an MSDN subscription with Visual Studio Test Professional, Premium or Ultimate, then Visual Studio Online is included (excluding the use of TFS Build) and services will be supplied at no extra cost.

Concluding the above statements I would say that when you are serious about your TFS implementation, it’s important to consider whether your requirements meet the possibilities of the Azure environment. Changing from Visual Studio Online to an on-premises installation is a considerable amount of work and not all data can be exported from the Azure environment to an on-premises installation of TFS (yet), so changing from one to the other scenario is not an easy task.

This is literally what Microsoft says about this;

“Today there isn’t a way to export work items or other project data to your local machine, but we’re planning on adding this capability at a later date.”


“All data is stored in triplicate on three physically-distinct servers. Full backups are taken every day with incremental backups every hour. If you want to have your own backup of your source code, you can sync your source to your local machine.”


However, Microsoft did a very good job at taking TFS to the cloud. Availability has been very good and performance is great! So if you decide to use Visual Studio Online, you will certainly enjoy the flexibility and ease-of-use!

To create your own Visual Studio Online environment, go to

UPDATE: Microsoft Employee Steve Lange published a slide deck on this topic:


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