Today, we announced that the Team Foundation Service has released.  Read more about it on the service web site here: http://tfs.visualstudio.com/en-us/home/news/.

I wanted to provide a bit of my own commentary (beyond what I put on the web site news)…

Our original plan was to hold RTM until all the billing infrastructure is in place.  Over the past several months, we’ve seen dramatic increases in people signing up.  At the same time, I’ve seen two questions come up repeatedly:

  1. Will my data be preserved when the service RTMs?  I’ve assured people that it will.  This is a cloud service.  It will continue to advance “forever”.  However, it continues to be a source of anxiety.
  2. How much will the service cost?  I’ve seen countless people play with the service and get to the point that they want to use it “for real” but they can’t with an open ended question on cost.  We’ve made it clear that the data in the service is yours and we’ll ensure you have a way to get your data if the pricing is unappealing.  However, it has continued to be an issue.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been asking ourselves what we could do to make these issues clearer and eliminate the anxiety for people.  At the same time, we haven’t invented a time machine yet and we don’t actually have all of the billing infrastructure in place.  So we worked to walk a fine line.  So, this RTM announcement has the following key components:

  1. The service has RTMed.  That means we are committed to this service for the long term; it is ready for production use; your data is safe and will be carried forward indefinitely.  Our support organization is trained and ready to support customers with any issues.
  2. We will provide a free level of service up to 5 users in an account.  This includes all of the features currently on the service (including “Premium” features like Agile Project Management).  For now build has no cap, although we expect to introduce one at some point (probably a small # of build hours per month for free accounts).  Because of this, the build service is still marked as “preview” to indicate that we have not settled on the precise usage allowance yet.
  3. We will provide the service to MSDN subscribers with Premium, Ultimate and TestPro subscriptions.  Users with those subscriptions can participate in teams/projects of unlimited size and take advantage of all the features of the service.  There will eventually also be a cap on build for this scenario as well – but presumably much larger than the free accounts.  We can’t, of course, allow unlimited compute usage for a fixed cost under any level of subscription Smile
  4. We will provide a paid subscription option next year for teams that don’t fall into category 2 or 3.  We have not disclosed any details about that paid subscription at this point – expect to hear more next year.
  5. There is no enforcement of any of these rules today.  All usage is free but we’ve provided some information about what rules we intend to enforce and will introduce that enforcement with billing next year.

The new url for Team Foundation Service is http://tfs.visualstudio.com. The old url, http://tfspreview.com, will also continue to work for some months but will eventually be retired.

At the same time, we expect the service, as is stands today is not for everyone.  There are many gaps between what is on the service and what you can do with our on-premises product.  Some examples include:

 

  • You must use one of the built in process templates (Scrum, Agile, CMMI).  You are not currently able to customize the process template.
  • The service does not yet support integration with our other enterprise services – Sharepoint, Project Server, System Center, etc.
  • You must login with a LiveID – we don’t yet support Active Directory federation.
  • Reporting is extremely limited.  We provide some stock reports – like burn down and cumulative flow but the extensive reporting in the on-premises product is not yet supported on the service.

These are a few examples of the kinds of benefits the on-premises solution has over the service today.  Over time, all of these gaps will be addressed and Team Foundation Service will enable virtually everything you can do with our on-premises product.  Until then, you will want to think carefully about your requirements before you choose between the cloud and on-prem solutions.  For now, I think the cloud is a great solution for small to medium sized teams, particularly those that are distributed or cross organization.  You’ll have to weigh the trade-offs yourself.

We’ve been using the service for some of our own development projects for over a year now and have been extremely happy with it.  I hope you’ll give it a try too.

So, within our constraints, we’ve tried to remove as much ambiguity as we can – the service is RTM’d and your data will be safe; small teams get free access; teams with MSDN get it as part of their subscription.  We’ve not provided additional pricing clarity for the medium sized teams but it’s no less clarity than we had before.

I’m very happy to be taking this next step in the journey and looking forward to enabling even more people to collaborate easily through the cloud.

Brian