Everything you want to know about Visual Studio ALM and Farming
Brian Harry is a Microsoft Technical Fellow working as the Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server. Learn more about Brian.
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It's been on my mind recently to talk about some of the assumptions and pre-requisites that are going to exist for the Rosario release of Team Foundation Server. The main reason is to make sure people have plenty of time to prepare for it. It's still going to be a while before this information is actionable but I just want to make sure you don't have any problems preparing for this in your future upgrade, planning and budgeting cycles. I expect it will be Beta 1 before we have a non-VPC, installable build and that's really the first time that this information might become relevant for you.
With every release we assess what new technologies are out, what is coming, what customers are asking for, etc. and build a baseline of assumptions that we then build the product around. I'm going to spell out what many of those baseline assumptions are here.
Server Operating Systems - The TFS "Rosario" server will support Windows 2003, Windows 2008 and future Windows Server operating systems. We talked about the possibility of dropping Windows 2003 support but the gains for us seemed small enough that it wasn't worth any pains we'd cause for customers. That said, my recommendation would be to move to Windows 2008. Post Rosario versions are unlikely to continue to support Windows 2003.
64-bit - Yes, finally, TFS "Rosario" will be supporting full 64-bit on the server. Rosario will support both 32-bit and 64-bit server operating systems to ease the upgrade transition, however, post Rosario we will drop 32-bit server support. Therefore I recommend you start thinking about moving to 64-bit for your TFS server in the Rosario timeframe.
Virtualization - We will continue to test and/or support all virtualization environments that earn the Microsoft virtualization certification. I believe our recommendation will remain that you run your SQLServer on a native/host OS but that other TFS components can be run in a virtualized environment as you choose.
SQLServer - Perhaps the biggest call we made for Rosario was to drop support for SQLServer 2005. Rosario will only support SQLServer 2008 and later. That was a controversial decision but it is a final decision. The primary driving force behind it is that the Report Server feature in SQLServer 2008 is sooooo much improved over that in previous versions that we simply could not pass up taking advantage of it for Rosario. When we start to show you some of the new reports and how much better they look, I think you'll see why. There are other lesser reasons - full text indexing improvements, index compression (which TFS will take heavy advantage of), simpler setup and administration and others. Because we won't support SQLServer 2005, it means that when you go to upgrade your TFS server to Rosario, you will probably want to first upgrade it to SQL Server 2008 and then upgrade TFS. I recommend that sometime in the coming months, you plan some time to upgrade your SQLServer to SQLServer 2008 and your TFS server to TFS 2008 SP1. Then you will be ready for the smoothest path to Rosario. We will be supporting a "move based upgrade" where you can detach or backup your TFS databases from one SQL server, attach or restore them to another. I don't have the detailed instructions for this yet but it's something customers have been asking for and I think it will help your upgrade options.
Sharepoint - In TFS "Rosario", we will discontinue support for Sharepoint 2.0 and require a minimum of Sharepoint 3.0 (2007) for our portal. Further, we are optionally enabling MOSS (Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server) as an important part of our reporting platform. MOSS will not be required but our Sharepoint portal will look much nicer and be much more useful if you purchase MOSS licenses in addition to your TFS licenses. We have feedback from some segments of our customers that a portal is not a high priority feature for them and they would rather not deal with it. To support those customers, a portal is no longer a mandatory part of TFS. In Rosario, TFS will no longer require that you install Sharepoint. All portal functionality is optional. In fact, we have made it so that your portal can be nothing, any web site you choose, a Sharepoint site or a MOSS Site. However, I encourage those who haven't found our portal to be compelling so far to take another look in Rosario as we have really improved it and I hope you will find it much more useful than before. Whether upgrading to Sharepoint 3.0 now is advisable or not is harder for me to say. It's going to depend on whether you want to use a portal with Rosario, or switch to MOSS, or wait for the next version of Sharepoint, etc. You have the data now to think through your plan though.
Project Server - TFS "Rosario" will include integration with Project Server. Project server will not be required but if you choose to use TFS integrated with Project Server, you will need Project Server 2007 or later. Because Project Server is another large and sophisticated product and is usually managed by different people than TFS is, I recommend you think about this early in your planning process.
Build Servers - As with previous versions of TFS, in Rosario, the TFS Build Server version is coupled to the TFS Server version. You will need to upgrade all of your TFS Build Servers at the same time you upgrade the TFS Server they are associated with. The good news is that the build server's ability to build applications based on different versions of the .NET Framework is improved, so updating your TFS Build server does not mean struggling to figure out how to build your applications that still rely on previous .NET Framework versions - it should "just work". There's no action for you on this but just something to keep in mind.
Client Operating Systems - Our plan is to support Windows XP and all subsequent client OS releases and Windows Server 2003 and all subsequent server OS releases. There will be some service pack requirements for some of the older OSes but that isn't completely nailed yet. In general, I hope you are staying fairly current on service packs. We will continue to support both 32-bit and 64-bit (by running inside the WOW subsystem) operating systems.
Client Versions - One of the big concerns customers always have with TFS is compatibility with older versions of Visual Studio. We recognize that you often don't want to move your Visual Studio versions forward for all applications and we don't want to have that be a blocking factor for upgrading your TFS server and being able to take advantage of new TFS features. On the other hand, we face some real challenges - Rosario represents a MAJOR step forward for TFS and maintaining full fidelity with the clients we've shipped in the past is impossible. Our plan is to ship updates (patches, SPs, whatever we end up calling them) for all prior versions (Team Explorer 2005, Team Explorer 2008 and the MSSCCI Provider) that enable them to connect to and interoperate effectively with a Rosario TFS server. Our Rosario client will work fine with a TFS 2005 or TFS 2008 server.
Office - In TFS "Rosario" we will be supporting Office 2007 or later. This means that we will be dropping support for Office 2003 clients. This was necessary to implement Undo in MS Project and "formula persistence" in MS Excel.
Hopefully all of this gives you some context on how to plan for Rosario and be ready for it when it is ready. Many of these decisions are made and can't be unmade at this point. We've collected a bunch of customer input on them over the past year or so and made the best trade-off we can. That said, as always, we're open to more feedback and if we've really botched something I want to know.