azure vs github
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Azure DevOps and GitHub are both developer collaboration tools owned by Microsoft. Despite these similarities, the two DevOps tools are far from interchangeable. Developers in need of a software collaboration and sharing platform should be aware of the differences between Azure DevOps and GitHub before selecting one over the other.

What is Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps is a collection of Azure developer services intended to help developers build software by streamlining planning, collaboration, communication and deployment of new projects.

The individual services that make up the DevOps suites can be used on their own or in combination with each other. Integrated services include Azure Pipelines, Azure Repos and Azure Test Plans.

What is GitHub?

GitHub is a popular website and cloud-based service that allows developers to store and share their code as well as track and manage code changes. Key features of GitHub include version control through Git, an open-source distributed version control system that helps to facilitate the branching and merging of projects.

With Git, the entire codebase and history of a project will be available on every developer’s computer, which is why branching and merging with Git is so easy.

Because Git is so widely adopted in the software development community, a cloud-based Git repository hosting service like GitHub is a great way to ensure that projects are accessible to other developers.

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Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Feature comparison

FeatureAzure DevOpsGitHub
Code repositoriesYesYes
Agile toolsYesNo

Common features of Azure DevOps and GitHub

Intended users and use cases

Azure DevOps is seen as an enterprise solution for the development of closed-source software: Even Microsoft hosts most of its open-source projects on GitHub.

GitHub, by contrast, is beloved in the open-source community. You’ll find that many open-source projects will have a GitHub repository. For developer teams working on an open-source project, a GitHub repository is a good way to make the project as accessible as possible to the open-source community.

GitHub and Azure DevOps will integrate nicely with popular tools, platforms and services. For example, both Azure DevOps and GitHub integrate with Microsoft Azure. Developers who want to take advantage of Azure’s security offerings, the product of partnerships with cybersecurity firms like Coalfire, can use either GitHub or Azure DevOps with the cloud service platform.

Continuous integration and continuous deployment support

Both Azure DevOps and GitHub have their own automation and CI/CD tools — Azure Pipelines and GitHub Actions, respectively. These two tools both support hosted agents for public and private projects.

GitHub Actions does not offer some of the features users have with Azure Pipelines. For example, GitHub Actions does not support scale set agents — self-hosted agents that can automatically scale to meet the needs of a project — unlike Azure Pipelines.

If you want to learn more about Pipelines and Actions, Microsoft has published a comparison of the two tools on its website.

Project management features

Azure DevOps offers a robust selection of project management tools and features, including agile tools that will help support agile developer teams.

GitHub offers a project management platform, GitHub Projects, that exists primarily to support project management for code that is already on GitHub.

Azure DevOps will work with a wider variety of projects than GitHub, as the GitHub Projects platform will only support projects that keep their code on GitHub. Both tools, however, offer robust project management features and can help developers keep their projects organized.

Which is the better developer collaboration tool?

Both Azure DevOps and GitHub are powerful tools for developer teams that need to facilitate communication, ensure collaboration and manage their projects.

GitHub will be the best option for developers of open-source projects, as the platform’s features will help make their project the most accessible to the open-source community. For developers of closed-source projects, Azure DevOps provides a robust and mature feature kit that will help streamline collaboration and communication.

It’s also possible to integrate Azure DevOps with GitHub using official DevOps features — meaning that some teams may be able to simply adopt both solutions — though it’s important to remember that Azure DevOps and GitHub aren’t interchangeable, even though they provide similar features.

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