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Microsoft ALM server to debut with limited Internet access

Posted by inet - 2006-02-26

Microsoft's soon-to-be-released Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server initially will be limited in how users can access it over the Internet, according to a Microsoft blogger.

Due in March, the product will provide collaboration as part of the company's Visual Studio 2005 Team System ALM (application lifecycle management) platform. Upon its release, Team Foundation Server will support Integrated Windows Authentication, allowing for access via Windows credentials.

"Integrated Windows Authentication is an ideal choice for most deployment scenarios in a corporate environment, but it is not an optimal choice in Internet scenarios, due to limitations resulting from proxy servers, firewalls, and trusted connections," said Rob Caron, content architect for Visual Studio 2005 Team System. He made his comments in a blog post this week entitled "Accessing Team Foundation Server Remotely."

As a fix, Microsoft plans to support Basic and Digest authentication. "Unfortunately, we were not able to complete this implementation in time to ship with the initial RTM [Release to Manufacturing] of Team Foundation Server," Caron said. But Microsoft expects to add this functionality in the "near future," he said.

In the meantime, users can access Team Foundation Server over the Internet using a VPN. Or, Team Foundation Server may be exposed directly to the Internet, with users obtaining encrypted connections. But this may not work if "thwarted by proxies on the client side of the equation," Caron said.

In a prepared statement released today, Microsoft pledged to support secure authentication.

“With the RTM release of Team Foundation Server we will support the most secure methods of authentication for remote access. The blog post was Microsoft working to gather feedback on users who might be using less secure methods and might ultimately want support for those methods. As noted in the blog, additional support will be added in the near future, soon after the release of Team Foundation Server.”

Microsoft's delaying the Internet access feature is not a big deal but is a concern, said Greg DeMichillie, lead analyst for developer tools at Directions on Microsoft, a research firm not affiliated with the software vendor.

"The only sort of concern is it's pretty late in the game for them to be cutting features. What it tells me is they've been having a bit of a harder time" in developing the product than anticipated, DeMichillie said.

Microsoft, though, must ship the product soon because it is already behind the rest of Visual Studio 2005, which became available in November, DeMichillie said. The company needs to ship so it can move on to developing the next release of its tools platform, said DeMichillie.

Team Foundation Server is the heart of Microsoft's ALM platform, providing source code control, a database for testing scenarios and bug tracking, DeMichillie said.

"It's the centralized database that stores everything about your project," he said.

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