Visual Studio 11 Beta LogoAs you may or may not know, at the BUILD conference last September, Microsoft announced the availability of a preview of Team Foundation Service.  With Team Foundation Service Microsoft provides you world class ALM as a service, entirely hosted on the Windows Azure platform

This means that you can benefit from all the great features and functionality of Team Foundation Server, without having to setup a server infrastructure for it.  In only a few minutes you can have an account and be productive with your team, regardless of where you are around the world!  It takes away the time and hassle of arranging for hardware, installing software, providing network infrastructure, etc. The service takes care of all of that for you and lets you focus on your project.

We are continuously adding new functionality to Team Foundation Service Preview and one notable feature that was missing up to now, and which people were often asking for, was being able to run your team builds in the cloud, rather than on local build servers.  Up to now…

Earlier this week Brian Harry, Technical Fellow at Microsoft, announced and demonstrated a new cloud-based build service for Team Foundation Service on Azure.  With this new service, we’ve made it possible to skip installing and managing build machines and just use a pool of build machines that we manage in the cloud. And, of course, you can do more than just build – like with on-premises TFS, you can run a default workflow that includes, compilation, testing, etc or you can create a custom workflow that does whatever you like.

Note that Team Foundation Service is still a pre-release offering. We’re working very hard on it and you should stay tuned to a lot more improvements in the coming months. We are releasing new capabilities to the service about every 3 weeks. In one of our recent updates, we changed our Terms of Service to more clearly express that the service can be used to “go-live” production projects and not just test and experimentation.

Team Foundation Service is a great, real life example of providing software as a service.  Are you ready to provide your software as a service to your customers, where they can get started in a matter of minutes, without having to go through provisioning, installing and configuring an entire infrastructure? 

Here’s is how you can get started with the Windows Azure Platform:

1. Setup an Account:

Set up an account and obtain a free subscription for accessing the online portals for Windows Azure an SQL Azure. You can sign up and get the free trial from http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/.
Note: With the new spending limit functionality available you are assured that no charging is happening once your trial offer has expired.

2. Create your First application and Deploy it on the Windows Azure Platform:

Download the tools and learn how to create an application using .NET, JAVA, Node.js or PHP and deploy it on Windows Azure at http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/overview/

3. Attend one of our free Azure events:

Get hands-on overview of the entire platform during a two-day Azure Camp at the Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) Brussels.  Or get an introduction on how Azure can be beneficial for your ISV business in one of our Azure business sessions ().

Did you know that for Microsoft Partners with the Silver or Gold ISV competency, you are entitled to software benefits. Included in these benefits is Visual Studio Premium with MSDN, which entitles you to use Team Foundation Server.