Azure DevOps vs. GitHub | Comparison of DevOps tools

Choosing the right DevOps tools is essential to the development process. Read on for a feature comparison of Azure DevOps and GitHub.

Image: Charlene Daniela/Adobe Stock

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

What is Azure DevOps?

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

The individual services that make up DevOps suites can be used alone 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 makes it easy to branch and merge projects.

With Git, a project’s entire code base and history 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 projects are accessible to other developers.

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Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Feature Comparison

Feature Azure DevOps GitHub
IC/CD Yes Yes
Code repositories Yes Yes
Agile tools Yes Nope

Common features of Azure DevOps and GitHub

Intended users and use cases

Azure DevOps is considered an enterprise solution for developing closed source software: even Microsoft hosts most of its open source projects on GitHub.

GitHub, on the other hand, is loved by the open source community. You will find that many open source projects will have a GitHub repository. For teams of developers 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 seamlessly integrate with popular tools, platforms, and services. For example, Azure DevOps and GitHub integrate with Microsoft Azure. Developers who want to take advantage of Azure’s security offerings, which come from partnerships with cybersecurity companies like Coalfire, can use GitHub or Azure DevOps with the cloud services 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. Both of these tools support hosted agents for both public and private projects.

GitHub Actions doesn’t 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 project needs), but Azure Pipelines does.

If you want to know 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, which 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 because the GitHub Projects platform will only support projects that keep their code on GitHub. However, both tools offer robust project management features and can help developers organize their projects.

What is the best collaboration tool for developers?

Both Azure DevOps and GitHub are powerful tools for developer teams 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 set that will help streamline collaboration and communication.

It’s also possible to integrate Azure DevOps with GitHub using the official DevOps features – meaning some teams may simply adopt both solutions – although it’s important to remember that Azure DevOps and GitHub are not not interchangeable, even if they provide similar functionality.

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