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Published:Oct 12, 2020

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Which Toolstack Is Better for Software Teams?

As software teams, we know how important it is to have the right tool for any given job. After all, we’re the people who actually build the tools used for all kinds of jobs.

And now, as more companies make digital transformations, there’s mounting pressure to build better apps, faster. Software teams are expected to get more and more agile, which requires teamwork from development and operations teams to increase their build velocity and deliver new, better solutions — faster than ever before.

You already know that’s where DevOps practices come in. Agile methodologies are the key to delivering the constantly increasing speed and quality that’s now expected. But what DevOps tool is right for the job? When software teams have so many choices, how do they know they’re using the best tool for the job?

Two of the biggest names in the game are Azure DevOps and GitHub, so let’s take a look at both, their similarities and differences, pros and cons, and see which one is actually the better tool for developers.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: What are the differences?

When you get down to the bare basics of each of them, Azure DevOps and GitHub Projects are both project management tools for development teams. 

Azure DevOps is a collection of services for teams to share their code, track their work, and deploy and ship software. Some of the products included in Azure DevOps are:

  • Azure Boards
  • Azure Pipelines
  • Azure Repos
  • Azure Artifacts

What sets Azure DevOps apart from the many tools available to developers and software teams is its extended features for supporting continuous delivery/integration (CI/CD). Azure DevOps comes with a pretty robust set of features, including:

  • Agile tools, like kanban boards, backlogs, and scrum boards
  • Reporting via dashboards, widgets, and Power BI
  • Git, which is a free repository with unlimited private hosting and pull requests

Azure DevOps has also long supported other Microsoft products, and offered cloud-specific development services like cloud build and cloud testing.

On the other hand, GitHub is a massive, open-source code repository that has long been a favorite for sharing and collaboration among teams. It features some of the best source control management the internet has to offer, along with cloud-based code sharing and social networking among an expansive community of developers all over the world.

While Microsoft has spent the last few years making moves to make Azure DevOps more open-source friendly, GitHub has always been designed that way. Think of it like “social coding” — users can work together on projects, share projects for experimentation and specialization, and use the platform to share ideas and find new collaborators. 

GitHub’s list of features is also pretty stacked, including:

  • Cod management in both private and public repositories
  • Code workflow via GitHub Actions, GitHub Packages, code reviews, pull requests, and protected branches
  • Excellent security and compliance tools, from customizable security alerts and automated code scanning to audit logs and LDAP
  • A marketplace for finding integrations like build tools, issue trackers, and more

Both Azure DevOps and GitHub are Microsoft products, and when Microsoft acquired GitHub in 2018, it went straight to work at adding integration features that would allow Azure DevOps users to use GitHub as well. Despite how seamlessly the two toolsets can integrate now, though, there are still users who prefer one or the other. To fully understand how to choose between Azure DevOps, GitHub, or both, you need to understand the pros and cons of each.

Azure Devops vs GitHub: Pros and Cons

According to reviews from users, there are plenty of pros and cons to consider with both Azure DevOps and GitHub tools. 

Azure DevOps Pros and Cons

Let’s start with Azure DevOps.

Azure DevOps Pros and Cons
ProsCons
– Complete, flexible, and powerful set of tools
– Huge ecosystem of extensions
– One-stop-shop for all tools teams need for agile methodology and DevOps
– Constantly improving
– Free for five or fewer users
– Supports open source
– Some users describe it as a “Jack of all trades, master of none”
– Expensive for large teams

GitHub Pros and Cons

And now for GitHub’s pros and cons.

GitHub Pros and Cons
ProsCons
– Constant new features useful for developers
– Brings social aspects into programming
– Fast and easy version control
– Industry standard for open source projects
– Extremely affordable
– The UI is not as simple as some other tools, meaning there can be a learning curve to use

As you can see, real users think both these tools have a lot of pros, and not too many cons. So which one is actually better? Let’s take a look at how they stack up in different areas.

How Do Azure DevOps and GitHub Compare? 

Choosing the right tool for your team means evaluating both Azure DevOps and GitHub in a number of important areas. Here’s how they stack up against one another.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Included Features

Azure DevOps

GitHub

When it comes to their features and capabilities, both Azure DevOps and GitHub are powerful, stacked toolsets. Both are comprehensive and feature-rich, allowing teams to share and track their projects and code, opening doors for collaboration across teams, and creating an environment for quickly building software with CI/CD in mind.

We’ve already discussed a lot of the features that make both Azure DevOps and GitHub stand out in a sea of tools developers can choose from, so we’ll just say this: These are both pretty comprehensive and formidable sets of tools for teams of all sizes that come with useful integrations, collaboration support, and other features that make them powerful and attractive to all software teams.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Ease of Use

Azure DevOps

GitHub

Both Azure DevOps and GitHub should be reasonably simple for the average software team to learn and use. They both have attractive, elegant interfaces as well as simple integrations with tools that should already be familiar to many developers.

It all depends on your team, though, and for some types of development, there may be a learning curve involved with either Azure DevOps or GitHub. While neither tool is difficult to use, they’re also not perfectly intuitive. However, to help combat this, both tools offer tutorials and courses, like GitHub’s fun Learning Lab.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Community Support

Azure DevOps

GitHub

When it comes to community support, GitHub almost has to come out on top just because of the way it was designed: As a social, collaborative platform. Simply because of that, GitHub has some of the best community support there is in this industry.

But Azure DevOps users aren’t on their own by any means. While Azure DevOps products don’t quite have the same social support, Microsoft does have Azure DevOps virtual assistants who are available to help customers with questions. And if you need more support, you can purchase an Azure Support Plan.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Release Rate

Azure DevOps

GitHub: 5/5

Azure DevOps is a tool that’s been around (in many different iterations) for some time. Formerly known as Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Visual Studio Team System, Azure DevOps sees regular releases and feature additions as users’ needs shift. 

Similarly, GitHub has evolved over its lifespan. It started as an online, social code repository, and has since grown into the suite of tools it contains today. Still, GitHub sees multiple new releases each month, including essentials like security updates, and new features as needed.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Pricing

Azure DevOps

GitHub

For many teams, the cost is a major consideration when it comes to choosing the tools you’ll use in the long-term. Both Azure DevOps and GitHub offer different pricing plans and models depending on what a team might need.

Azure DevOps has per-user licenses available for purchase, and also sells bundles of services or individual units of usage. The Basic Plan costs $6 per user per month, and gives your users access to Pipelines, Boards, Repos, and Artifacts. Adding Azure’s Test Plans service increases the price pretty significantly, up to $52 per user per month.

GitHub, on the other hand, is widely viewed to be a more affordable option. All public, open-source projects can be hosted for free, and private repository plans start at $7 per month for personal use, up to $21 per user per month for enterprise plans.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: API, Extensibility, and Third-Party Integrations

Azure DevOps

GitHub

Both Azure DevOps and GitHub allow for interfacing with their platforms via API very seamlessly. They also both offer extensive marketplaces of third-party integrations, from your favorite chat tools like Slack and HipChat to CI/CD tools like Semaphore and Travis CI.

There is a wide range of outside tools that communicate well with Azure DevOps, including REST APIs, command-line tools, web-based tools, desktop client developers, and more.

And GitHub Apps and Actions is where users can find a similarly wide variety of tools and solutions that integrate seamlessly with GitHub.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Security

Azure DevOps

GitHub: 4/5

And finally, there’s the question of security — a pretty important consideration for most software teams. For this, we’ll turn to some security experts: UpGuard, which creates objective, data-driven security ratings for online companies. 

UpGuard rates Microsoft’s Azure website at 751 points out of 950, which is a B rating.

GitHub is rated slightly higher at 789 points out of 950, which is also a B rating.

Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Which Tool Is Better?

So which is better? They’re both powerful toolsets with different pros, cons, and value to add to your team. Because of that, we can’t really say one is comprehensively better than the other. 

When it comes to which tools to use, your team will have to evaluate them based on its own needs, goals, and workflow. Azure DevOps may be the best tool for the job, GitHub may be the winner, or it may be a different tool altogether.

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