Examples of Hosted Topology
Instead of installing and configuring Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS) locally, Microsoft offers you the option of using Team Foundation Service Preview, where Microsoft hosts all the server elements of the deployment for you in the cloud. This greatly simplifies your deployment, because the only aspects of the architecture you need to consider are making sure your users have the Internet access and the permissions that are required to access your project.
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If you choose to use the service, your entire project, including source code, work items, build configurations, and team features are all hosted in the cloud. From C# to Python, from Windows to Android, you can use a variety of languages and target a variety of platforms, and you can use a variety of tools. The only aspects of the architecture you need to manage are the access requirements.
When you use Team Foundation Service Preview, you use a web browser and your Microsoft account to connect to the hosted service. You can create team projects, add members to your team, and work just like you would work with a locally installed deployment, but without the overhead of administering the servers. Your application tier, data tier, and build servers are hosted for you using the Microsoft Cloud platform and SQL Server Azure. This is a great architecture to choose if you want the features of TFS, such as source control, work items, and agile project management, but do not want to support managing the physical infrastructure. It is also a great option to consider if your team members are distributed around the world. Because the service is entirely web-based, the only aspects you must manage are whether your team members have access to the Internet, whether their firewalls block port 443, and whether a Microsoft account can be added for each team member to each of the projects that are hosted for you.
Because the server resources for Team Foundation Service Preview are managed for you, it can be a good choice for teams that have unpredictable usage spikes or that might need to greatly expand or contract the resources for a project. The service infrastructure is designed to absorb fluctuating needs, and can seamlessly expand to manage the largest projects. It is also a great choice for teams with little or no IT support resources.
Unlike local deployments, the hosted service does not support integration with SharePoint Products or SQL Server Reporting Services, and does not fully integrate with Visual Studio Lab Management. Because of this limitation, the hosted service is not a good choice if your team needs detailed reports on progress—which is available in the integration between TFS and SQL Server Reporting Services—or requires virtual lab machines and automated testing, which is offered by Visual Studio Lab Management. Although the service provides a team page and dashboard, it is not as detailed as the integration available between TFS, SQL Server Reporting Services, and SharePoint Foundation 2010.
In addition, Team Foundation Service Preview is not a good choice if your project has strict governance requirements. Do not choose the hosted service if you are developing in a strictly regulated environment, such as the financial industry, or if your project must have complete control of its infrastructure for auditing purposes.
You can choose to have your build machine resources hosted in the cloud along with the rest of the server-side aspects of your deployment, or you can choose to use local build servers. You might choose to use a hosted build server for integrated builds, while your developers use local build servers to run interim builds.
For more information about the service and options for using it, see Team Foundation Service Preview.