Experience with VSTS in the "real" world

Sparked by Chris’s latest post, I thought I would also give my experiences and thoughts of Team System in a Production setting so far. 

As some may or may not know, my team at Imaginet is working on a set of tools to ease the adoption and customization of Team System.  These tools, coupled with best practices and guidance, will allow organizations to manage their library of Team System Project Templates in an intuitive interface, along with providing some fantastic support for the definition or augmentation of Work Item Type definitions in either a Project Template or directly online.

We’re building all of this in VS.NET 2005 of course, starting off with a VPC of Beta 2.  We decided to test the water a bit more and see if we could successfully install on dev servers.  It turns out that we had some pain installing, and finally using Team System on a distributed Data/App installation.  We decided to consolidate (read that as re-install) Team System in a single server configuration.  We also installed the build server, and did not install the Test Ring Servers.  We added the servers to our domain so that they would interact well within our environment.   With all said and done, it took two full days for a developer to install the servers – a developer, I might add, with absolutely no prior knowledge of Team System.  

Here are my thoughts:

1.      I was actually surprised at how well everything performed.  I installed VS.NET 2005 Team Suite directly on my laptop to connect to the VSTS Server (with no problems) and was shocked that it ran WAY faster than within a VPC (someone help me get VPC working faster on my laptop please, I’m dying)

2.      I see absolutely no performance problems with the creation of work items, checking in and out of code – etc.  Most of my testing was from the UK – as our main VSTS server is located in Winnipeg.  I’m connecting through my hotel’s wireless connection and then using VPN to our relatively slow VPN and Broadband connection at our office.  I have to admit, I was shocked.

3.      I did find the client a bit chatty, yet resilient when it came to connections.  What I mean by this was that my hotel connection dropped all the time – and I didn’t see any complaining from VSTS.  Again, another shocker for me as I expected the traditional “I can’t connect to server so I will shut down” type of messages.  I may have just been lucky so far.

4.      Team Build is cool when you’re doing your work over an ocean

5.      Being able to check things in and out over a slow connection and over an ocean makes me giggle like a small child inside

6.      We have embraced Work Items and we’re using it to record features that we need to develop as well as record defects and overall assignments.  Of course, we’re using our tools to customize work items for our own needs - <grin>

7.      I’m making extensive use of the Excel plug-in on this project – love it for many reasons, the biggest is that I can do a bunch of work while offline and then re-sync

8.      We haven’t made use of the Sharepoint site on this project yet.  Why? Simply because we don’t have a lot of artifacts except for PPT type stuff.  We’re taking an extremely agile approach to this project, mostly due to the size of the team and the constraint on my time (I don’t have time to write requirements – just tell the developers what needs to be done or fixed).

9.      Yes, web tests seem to be negatively affected by MS Antispyware – weird

So far, so good.  We’re taking precautions of course, such as taking snapshots of our code every day and storing it in a location other than VSTS – just to make sure and to allow for a possible re-install in the future.  I’m also making sure that every single work item is replicated into my Excel workbook – again, for the same reason, I don’t want to loose any data.  We’ve stayed completely away from the latest CTP, and will probably not use the July CTP unless we find a VERY compelling reason.  

1 Comment

  • Speed up VPC: put your image on another physical disk. Not a separate partition, which is worse than putting it on the OS drive. If it's on a separate drive, even a firewire external drive, it will run faster. Also, more RAM would help.

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