Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TFS Security Overview

TFS security can be an interesting beast to work with from an administration point of view.
Not only do you have to manage the permissions assignments in 3 different places (TFS, SharePoint and Reporting Services), but the TFS security model takes on a very layered approach, where different permissions apply on different “levels”.

Most of the groups discussed below are configured and maintained in TFS, so where possible you would probably want to create Active Directory Groups and have these assigned to the correct TFS, SharePoint and Reporting Services groups. This allows you to assign and remove users from a single point (AD) and then this applies across the board.

Additionally TFS rights can be either “Allowed”, “Denied” or “Unset”. Unset means they are neither denied or allowed and means that the inheritance of that right from another group takes precedence. Also note that “Deny” takes precedence in most cases.

If you appear in two groups, one group allowing a feature and in another group that feature is denied, you will have that feature denied. The only exception is if you exist in an administrators group (“Project Administrators”, “Project Collection Administrators” or “Team Foundation Administrator”), the deny is overridden by the rights assignment in the administration group for the associated level.

Administration Console
This level is really assigned to individuals who are responsible for the administration of TFS itself. You cannot assign groups into this role (only users) and assigning this actually modifies rights on the physical aspects such the databases, SharePoint etc.
I would recommend that you limit the amount of users in this group to administrators responsible for TFS maintenance and high level configuration.
TFS Admin Console Assignment

Server Level Permissions
Focussed more at operational aspects of TFS on a server level and not specific to a project collections. These groups can only be modified from within the TFS Administration Console.
The default groups created at this level are:
  • SharePoint Web Application Services
  • Team Foundation Administrators
  • Team Foundation Service Accounts
  • Team Foundation Valid Users
  • Work Item Only View Users
This is where you assign permissions such as being able to create or delete project collections. The “Team Foundation Valid Users” and “Team Foundation Service Accounts” groups cannot be added to directly. The “Valid Users” group is an aggregated list of all the Server Level Permissions as well as the individual Project Collection “Valid Users” groups’ and merely assigns access to the TFS Web portal and viewing instance related information. The “Work Item Only View Users” is a group where you would typically assign project managers or the likes, that is only able to create and manage work items from the web portal, in other words you do not see build information and source code browser etc..
Permissions available on this level include:
  • Administer Warehouse
  • Create team project collection
  • Delete Team project collection
  • Edit instance-level information
  • Make requests on behalf of others
  • Use full Web Access features
  • View instance-level information

Collection Level Permissions
These are specific to the project collection. The reason for having this level is to segregate project collections from each other, providing something of a contained “eco-system” for each project collection. These can be modified from the TFS Administration Console as well as directly through Team Explorer.
The default groups created at this level are:
  • Project Collection Administrators
  • Project Collection Build Administrators
  • Project Collection Build Service Accounts
  • Project Collection Proxy Service Accounts
  • Project Collection Service Accounts
  • Project Collection Test Service Accounts
  • Project Collection Valid Users Collection 
As you can probably deduce from the names – these are still very much administration related groups, but as mentioned previously contained to a project collection.
Permissions available on this level include:
  • Administer shelved changes
  • Administer workspaces
  • Alter trace settings
  • Create a workspace
  • Create new projects
  • Delete team project
  • Edit collection-level information
  • Make requests on behalf of others
  • Manage build resources
  • Manage process template
  • Manage test controllers
  • Manage work item link types
  • Trigger Events
  • Use build resources
  • View build resources
  • View collection-level information
  • View system synchronization information
Project Level Permissions
This level is specific to a project and can only be managed through Team Explorer. This is also where things become interesting… setting permissions on this level, you need to consider the Build, Area’s, Iterations and Version Control, as each exhibits its own set of permissions. So to draw a comprehensive security model on this level you would need to draw together all the required permissions and then allocated the appropriate permissions in each of these functional areas. Once again if you have a large number of teams working on different projects, Active Directory Groups are definitely the way to go.
The number of default groups are small and include merely:
  • Builders
  • Contributors
  • Project Administrators
  • Readers
Areas and Iterations:
To my mind these are ways of grouping work. They are very similar in structure with only the permissions between the two differing. I quite like the description of having Areas denote the “logical, physical, or functional” grouping vs. Iterations that denote the time based grouping.
Right click on the project name in Team Explorer and select “Team Project Settings” then “Areas and Iterations”. This will display the dialog for managing the Areas and Iterations. At the bottom of the dialog next to the “Close” button you will find the “Security” button.
The permissions can be set at each node of the hierarchy and the permissions set at the lower nodes override the inherited permissions.
Permissions include:
  • Create and order child nodes
  • Delete this node
  • Edit this node
  • Edit work items in this node
  • Manage test plans
  • View this node
  • View work items in this node
Note the work item permissions here. This allows you to “group” work items in the project and only allow certain users to “see” certain work items. This comes in handy when you subscribe to having a single project containing a number or individual projects.
  • Create and order child nodes
  • Delete this node
  • Edit this node
  • View this node
These permissions are specific to the build infrastructure that TFS provides. In Team Explorer under the appropriate project right click on the “Build” node and select “Security”.
Permissions available here are:
  • View builds
  • Edit build quality
  • Retain indefinitely
  • Delete builds
  • Manage build qualities
  • Destroy builds
  • Update build information
  • Queue build
  • Manage build queue
  • Stop builds
  • View build definition
  • Edit build definition
  • Delete build definition
  • Override check-in validation by build

Source Control
The version control repository where all files are checked into. Open the source control window by double clicking on “Source Control” node under the appropriate project. You should see the source control layout that looks similar to a folder structure. Right click on any of the “folders” select “Properties”. The dialog that is displayed will have a “Security” tab on. Note that if you have a folder marked as a branch the dialog looks different and the security functionality is under the “Permissions” tab. Similar to the Areas and Iterations the inherited permissions are overwritten.
Permissions available here are:
  • Read
  • Check out
  • Check in
  • Label
  • Lock
  • Revise other user's changes
  • Unlock other user's changes
  • Undo other user's changes
  • Administer labels
  • Manage permissions
  • Check in other user's changes
  • Merge
  • Manage branch

The TFS security model does give you a lot of flexibility, but it is not always that easy to navigate and manage. I have come across very few instances where there was a need to create additional groups within TFS, the default groups that are created are adequate for most deployments. If the need does arise to create custom groups, you should be aware of all the various aspects that it may encompass.

Friday, October 29, 2010

TFS on Windows Azure

Big news if you following Microsoft PDC 2010 is that Mr TFS : Brian Harry did a demo on how they took TFS 2010 and modified it to run on Windows Azure.

This is obviously concerning from a competition point of view if you are hosting TFS, as Microsoft is most likely going to have TFS as an subscription service on Azure.

That aside, it is interesting to see the effort involved in “porting” a large scale application to Windows Azure and the caveats that you have to address to have something running successfully.

On the plus side they made some improvements to TFS itself, which makes more sense for it to run “in the cloud”. One of the major changes in my mind is that fact that they changed the Build Controller to have a client as opposed to a peer relationship.

I always hated the cyclical relationship between TFS and the Build Controllers. Working in distributed teams it was a mission setting up continuous integration and then with limited access to the TFS Build servers, we would either have to commute to the office to fix a build issue or, what tended to happen more often, you live with a broken build for a couple of weeks until someone went in to the office that could fix it.

I really hope that we will see these changes becoming available in the mainstream application.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is competition bad?


Being a very young, niche service provider in South Africa, I’m very concerned about competition. I heard about a fairly well known American company doing TFS and Visual Studio consulting and training, busy establishing a presence in South Africa: you know that sinking sensation that a person gets?!

Not long after this I was speaking to Paul Hacker who hosts TFS, and noticed that there was yet another company that has just started hosting TFS in the States. I forwarded him the details and we got to chatting around the subject of competition.

Between our discussion and reflecting on my actions after I heard about the competition coming into this country, I have concluded that:

Competition is not always that bad.

Sure it gives you less of a market and it means that you need to start working even harder for business, but primarily I think you should take a step back and re-evaluate yourself, your market proposition and your target market.

You could decide to redesign your offering to be more applicable, or have a more focussed approach to your existing market, or even address those tasks that you had on your backlog that suddenly becomes top priority because your competitor is doing it..

Either way you would need to streamline your business and have a more focussed vision, ensuring an environment where the “customer wins” .

Another option is to consider an alliance or partnership of sorts. One of my friends who runs his own successful business told me that “A competitor is not always a competitor”. You could leverage each other and learn from each other to enhance your own portfolio and strengthen your own brand.

Even though I’m still very wary of competition, that sinking feeling has subsided. I have redesigned my offerings, focussing on, and better structuring areas that were a bit neglected. All in all I think creating a more holistic offering.

BTW: I actually met and had a chat with the president of “the competition” and it turns out he is not such a bad person after all Winking smile

Monday, September 20, 2010

GoogleBot is thy friend

When starting the site I was considering using a couple of forms of paid advertising (such as Google AdWords) to gain visibility for the site. After playing around a bit with words and phrases (AdWords have a nice (free) feature that you can actually have a look and “estimate” potential impressions and costs) it turned out to be a bit pricey for what we were trying to accomplish. The next step was to put in effort to get the site noticed and recognised by google and organically obtain a high rank on searches.
One of the approaches is to use google’s webmaster tools to give google a “deeper” insight into the site.
Step one is to expose a “robots.txt” on your site to “hide” areas that you want to hide and to give googlebot the go ahead to check out everything else.
Step two, point google in the direction of a decent site map. The problem I faced with this is that google is not too happy with any format for this site map. After some trial and error I eventually found that the plain text version worked perfectly (go here to generate a quick version to start off with).
So now that google can see into your site we revised a lot of wording to emphasise words and phrases that we would like to be found on. You might have noticed “Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server” being repeated on the various pages a couple of times.
Now finally we tried to get other sites linking to Team Foundation once again in an attempt to get the “web presence” increased. So we looked around at the popular business listing sites and started listing on the free, no-catch sites we could find.
All this has brought us to be top of the list when searching on google in South Africa for phrases such as “TFS consulting”. All this without spending a cent!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Free Ebook: Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

Get it while it's hot..


Some bed time reading on how to upgrade yourself from previous versions to Visual Studio 2010. It gives a detailed overview of how things change and what new features are available in a fairly unique approach.

You can find a detailed overview of the book here.
(cross posted from http://devtendencies.blogspot.com/2010/09/moving-to-microsoft-visual-studio-2010.html)

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It is surprising how quickly a day goes when you go from one meeting to another, but all in all a very positive day. First was a large corporate retailer with the potential of establishing TFS as their primary corporate work item management system (well if I get my way at least J ). There is a lot of potential here, but as we all know, corporates aren’t the most agile of entities, change takes time. One of their primary issues will be around licensing, as they do a lot of non-Microsoft (read Java and mainframe) development and testing – hence a bunch of licenses that would be required outside of the MSDN subscriptions that the MS developers already have. Microsoft has covered the Java market very nicely with Team Foundation Everywhere. But the primary problem is testers logging bugs and users logging work items.
Obviously the caveat exists where using "Team System Web Access" (TSWA) you can log bugs and work items without a CAL as long as you do not access work items that were not created by yourself. Unfortunately not viable in this corporate’s situation as teams manage buckets of items.
The next option is to look at buying additional CAL’s. At approx. $500 a CAL in South African terms not a cheap exercise.
The person I spoke to then spoke about an “external connecter” licence. But even if you could afford it, I don’t think that his situation would qualify for this licensing scheme.
Fortunately they use a fairly expensive product as it is to do test management, so a potential re-allocation of costs could be an option and getting back and reading up a bit I started looking at the possibility of SPLA licensing in a situation like this. It would definitely reduce initial costs, and be flexible to the amount of users on a monthly basis. Maybe something I must look into a bit closer.
The moral of the story: The complexity of the Microsoft licensing really causes headaches for the people on the ground that is supposed to use / purchase these licenses. I read an article stating that they would be surprised if a large number of the “fully” licensed companies were in fact fully licensed, possibly even paying too much.
On the positive side: when I got back fairly late in the afternoon, I was surprised by an email from a company asking about me. I had no contact with them before and have no idea how they got to me, but it was a real highlight. Maybe there is some hope after all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Well it has been a while, so I thought I would give a general update on what has happened so far. Unfortunately I have to say … not much.
I’ve made some progress with the licensing side of things; I’ve broken through the Microsoft guards and procedures to have access to the volume licensed software now.  The problem is that as a ‘hoster’ you need to have a Service Provider Licensing Agreement in place.
Check. Got that.
The next step is to give Microsoft their money, you need to report monthly usage so that they can bill accordingly (you pay for the actual usage, which you again (hopefully) bill the clients for). This should be done on the SPLA essentials “site”. 
This is where most of the registration pain has originated thus far. One and a half months later I still have not been able to get access to this site (even though this is what initiated the process of getting onto the spla and volume licensing agreements in the first place). I seem to be stuck in a : “I don’t have access; No our systems show you have access; but I don’t have access; but our systems show etc.  etc. etc..” communication cycle with the various levels of support around this issue.
Besides me consuming vast amounts of pricey bandwidth trying to get through MS support, I’ve been digging up old acquaintances and everybody that I have had some amicable interactions with to see if I can at least get the word out and in the process find some leads. Things are going slow (as expected) and I have no solid leads as yet, but still going strong.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Well my transcript has been “found”. There was some issue when the exam was written that caused it not to be uploaded. So at least Microsoft is going to have it uploaded in the “the September run”. Luckily September is just around the corner, so let’s give them this much. After all, it only took a month… (Am I too nice to be able to run a business?)

Whilst we are on the subject of corporate Microsoft, to be able to be recognized as a SPLA reseller, you need to register on the SPLA essentials site. No problem, nice “Sign up” link and everything. That was almost 3 weeks ago. I have had numerous emails confirming activations and registrations of all sorts, and within this correspondence there are links to do further activations etc. Like a rabbit hole, just going in deeper and deeper with no final “here you go you are now registered and able to start selling”! I really think there should be a review of the flow of this registration and activation, really un-intuitive and error prone (As I’ve mentioned before). So this is another bottle neck I’m trying to circumnavigate.

On the brighter side, I received another job offer yesterday that after MUCH deliberation I declined. The company is a large retail chain in South Africa and it seems that they are now trying to go Agile. This would have been a very exciting position, had it not been for my delusion of having my own business. What makes this a positive is that they run TFS. They are busy upgrading to Visual Studio 2010 and then TFS will be next in line for an upgrade. A friend of mine that works there mentioned how the TFS instance came to be and by the sounds of it, they are in need of someone like me!

I was initially worried that although I have a brilliant idea, the paying client base in this country may not be able to support a service such as this. This gives me a little bit of hope! I now need to bide my time and then see if I can get myself in there.

Build a business one client at a time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cold Calling...

I made my first (of many I’m sure) cold calls today. You don’t often think that giving someone a call could be so nerve-wrecking. I got the lead form a friend of mine, saying that this company is basically using TFS for only source control (what a shame...). So I got this guy’s details (the Enterprise Architect), and did as much research on him as I could find. Then did the cold call prep.

You look at all possible scenarios, questions and answers that could rear its head in this call. You prepare a script, giving as much info in as few words and as clearly as possible.

Then the call...

I must admit the person was a lot more down to earth that I was expecting. He was polite and sounded very approachable. But BANG... the one scenario you did not prepare for. Panic sets in and you start darting around your script to try and find a quick question / solution / something to the response. Then after what seemed to be hours and as much seemingly pointless questions as I could stomach, it was over.

They’re actually getting rid of TFS due to a corporate policy to use open source tools.

In retrospect I should have realised the “corporate policy” card is usually something that is pulled because there was a problem somewhere or something did not work, or even just to get rid of the person on the other side (me in this case). I can think of a bunch of questions I should have asked – the biggest one obviously is what went wrong with TFS. Even in this I could have offered my services in moving from TFS to svn at the very least.

So a person lives and learns. I hope the next one will go better; at least I have some other scenario to plan for now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Missing Transcripts

I wrote the 70-512 exam more than 7 South African working days ago and it has still not appeared on my transcript. Getting a bit worried about that one, so I phoned the help full people at Microsoft. It appears as if the exam was never uploaded to Microsoft from Prometric, they are going to investigate and hopefully upload it manually. I hope that there are no issues surrounding this.

Will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SLA registration nightmares

I've been seinding our the new site to a couple of people / friends for some feedback and input. Maybe see if they can start generating some leads.

In addition to this I tried to register on Microsoft's SPLA essentials site. Was that a mission!! I had to go through the "sign up" about 7 times before it was happy to let me through (even just to tell me that the application was recieved and it will take about 3 - 8 business days to process). The registration process gave me the YSOD about 4 of those times. For the rest, it would just hang and do nothing to the point that I lost patience. I tried to send a comment to tell "them" that an error had occured and lo and behold yet another error occured on submission on the contact screen.

Quite ironically the site was deployed with the debug libraries. So I can see that is was developed using ASP.Net MVC and from the full stack trace of the error. I have to admit, not something I would not expect from Microsoft. I could deduce who potentially compiled it and that he obviously referenced the source code for MVC directly as apposed to referencing libraries..


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Team Foundation Consulting

Formally introducing Team Foundation Consulting.

Hhhmm - taking a chance here aren't we..

We were going back and forth looking for good fitting names, but alas, turns out Microsoft was taken :).

The business model is being build around Microsoft's Team Foundation Server 2010 as I'm sure you are aware of by now. I liked the Team Foundation (actually a suggestion from my wife that is completely non IT) as I believe that TFS can be the foundation of a cohesive, managed and productive team. Having a look at the Microsoft Trademarks it does appear that Team Foundation or anything to that effect is in fact not trademarked or registered. I hope that this is not going to cause a problem, then again any publicity is good publicity.

We feel that it is a fitting name and speaks to the point that encompasses what we are trying to acomplish : building awareness around Team Foundation Server 2010 as a component of a well intergrated and productive unit, be it as a part of software developement or not.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Domains and stuff

Last week was a bit of a slow one. We got the site "mostly" up , had a few issues registering the domain and actually getting the domain pointing to the site. (Note to self - make sure that the people you get to register the domain allows the routing or pointing with the registration and does not require you to subscribe to a hosting package.)

I decided to use Google Sites for the initial incarnation of the site - Why : cause it is cheap and easy, giving some decent templates to work with!

In order for me to have a routed domain I needed to take a hosting package from the hoster that I'm planning on using (which was fortunately not a big deal as I needed the email etc to create a profile based on the company and not around me personally). So I opted for the cheapest one (about R20 per month). This package does include space and a site builder but I already have the google site up and configured so I'm using that for the time being, in addition to a fairly decent mail / mail routing package.

The site: I'm by no means a graphic designer or anything, so this site is purely to get a presence out there. When time and income allows I can always change and "re-invent" it as needed.

I spent time this morning registering my company so it is now officially a Microsoft Registered Partner.I still need to spend time on the details surrounding my information and registration (hopefully that still has impact towards credibility). Now the problem is to get the certified partner status, as for that I need 2 MCP's and 3 customer referrals, bit of an issue for a (so far) one man show.

Now I'm waiting for the TFS Exam transcript to show on my mcp profile, activating the MCTS, so I can get closer to the ALM Competency.

We have decided to focus on consulting around TFS and ALM processes, but clearly drawing attention to the hosted services that is in the pipe-line. If I get consulting gig's I can always sell the hosted option to a more receptive client. One of the options that I would consider is outsourced management of the TFS environment that could bridge the gap between a fully hosted solution and just consulting once-off.

So this week it is finalising the site and start getting that out in the open using some PPC style advertising on some local IT sites.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Next Steps.

Today (even though it is a public holiday in South Africa) I'm sitting here with my wife and looking at what is next..
We have defined some plug criteria (when do we call this a bust, pull the plug and try something else..) and the next steps that should take up most of this week.

Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have a online presence and have some advertising pushed out via some niche delivery mechanisms..

I have also set up this blog and started moving my "posts" to this blog site.

Friday, August 6, 2010

MCTS : TFS 2010 here I come..

woo-hoo wrote the 70-512 exam and passed it.... I was a bit concerned about the depth of knowledge needed etc, but after taking advice and working through the TFS Admin (one of those tortuously long detailed guides) and TFS Install documents. In addition to a fair degree of working experience it seemed to be good enough :)...

Having this exam under my belt should provide me with the MCTS for TFS 2010 administration. First check box for the ALM competency checked....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OK I can work with this..

Got the reply from Grant (see previous post) and he highlights that firstly they used TFS 2008 (this was back in 2007) and it was a huge infrastructure overhead to accommodate the hosting story with TFS 2008 as you could not share instances due to security concerns etc etc - luckily with TFS 2010 that was address in a way making use of collections.

And then the mindset of people and the willingness to have you IP (source code) reside in the cloud. This is one that I'm going to struggle with but hopefully with the huge emphasis on cloud these days that mindset is being chiseled away.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bad News?

Today I was doing some reading up on TFS in general. I then remembered about Grant Holiday. If you don't know him then you obviously do not take this TFS thing serious :). Why he is of such keen interest to me is that he helped start up one of the first hosted TFS services (in Australia), then went to work for Microsoft - still actively involved in TFS.

The first post on his blog really make my heart drop. Basically it stated that TFSNow (the hosted TFS company that he was involved in) no longer offers TFS as a hosted service.

That is not what I would have liked to hear. Why would one of the first companies to market no longer offer the service.

I dropped him a mail and anxiously await some insight into this....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

First Steps

As hinted to in the previous post, I have resigned my job to, amongst other reasons, try and focus my energy on this venture. I have to admit that I'm still looking around for the next job, as money is limited and I cannot sit indefinitely without an income, but I am hoping to give myself at least a couple of months before I commit to anything else.


I have looked very closely to the online tfs hosters that I could find. Looking at what they offer and at what costs. The mere fact that there are such diverse costing models indicate that this may still be a very young market to tap into.

In addition to that I have been reading A LOT of Microsoft's licensing white papers (something I would not wish on my worst enemy), and the options around licensing Windows infrastructure and TFS self. Buying outright would be too costly, so I have been focusing on the SPLA model and requirements to be able to make use of it.

Anybody... everybody???

I took a chance and contacted Willy-Peter Schaub (a fellow South African) widely known through TFS Rangers (or VS ALM Rangers) initiative, and with his help I was able to be put into contact with Clemri Steyn a Senior Product Manager for Microsoft.

After a bit of discussion he gave me an overview of the steps to be taken to be certified and recognised, hopefully with the goal of being able to establish myself as a accredited hoster.

Obviously in my personal capacity I have no official relationship with Microsoft (yet). So first priority is to get myself in Microsoft "good books" and work on this relationship.

And first on my list is to get the 70-512 exam passed so that I'm a bit closer to achieving the "ALM competency" that will give me some credibility in the market.

Luckily for me this exam was only released just over a month ago, so there is hopefully a limited number of people in South Africa with this accreditation, unfortunately it is still a bit new for any study guides and materials to be available. Looking around the general consensus is that if you have been working with TFS you should be fine, and reading the TFS install and administration guides should give you enough of an overview.

Hhhmmm, if you have gone through those guides before you'll know that it is not something you want to read front to back..

Luckily I don't think that they would go into detail about editing the 2010 build template, something that could be used very effectively as a torture mechanism, I'm sure... Is it too late to say how much respect I have for the people who setup that workflow ?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Initial Idea

What is all this about...

I am at a stage where I have to evaluate my career growth path. Looking online from my current role, the aspirations are very limited. Like one of the Microsoft "small business sites" indicated you basically have a limited number of options:

  1. On the technical side going into architecture (such as enterprise architecture), or
  2. on the other side going into the more business side of things (PM / analyst) and
  3. almost unanimously they all reckon "or you can always go the start up route".

The start up route is obviously the "nicer" one to consider - being your own boss, working your own hours, doing your own thing.

Hhhmm - easy then to say "take the start up path", but if you do not have a product or concept that will work you're probably going to sit back at this cross road shortly with 1 less option to evaluate.

So lets get some of those ideas ....

Obviously - first requirement is that I need to know something about the industry that the idea originates from. Being in the software industry for over a decade now - this is where I'll be applying my thinking.

The first idea that comes to mind: develop your own super duper application and hope someone will see the benefit and spend money on it (probably the route most taken). Alas, I have worked for one or two companies that took that route not being able to make it (even after getting fairly large clients to buy into the idea).

The problem with this is that the time to market is too long, and I have very limited funds available for this venture. I could get a another job and try to work on it after hours, but I've been in industry long enough to know that coming home after long days at work to try and develop something else - will push this venture out even further..

Next idea: I need to leverage something that is gaining ground in industry, is a unique offering in the current market and will have a much quicker turnaround time to get up and running.

Enter Microsoft's ® Team Foundation Server...

I have been working with TFS since TFS 2005 and have become my (previous) company's "TFS Guy", maintaining their current infrastructure and doing consulting to their clients around TFS and software processes. But being a custom dev shop their focus was on delivering projects (leveraging TFS) , and not TFS as a product though.

During these off site projects and the TFS consulting gigs, I realised that there is a lack of skills around configuration, managing and maintaining TFS (often blaming the product for their lack of understanding) and of coarse a hefty pricetag to correctly license and use the product, yet there is a fairly steady adoption rate.

So if you can change the local mindset of having their own in house infrastructure and get them to adopt a hosted scenario, with possibly better security, configuration and maintenance, there may be some hope after all.

Looking around there are a number of hosters already that seem to have cornered the market abroad, offering a fairly diverse array of services and features, but as every South African knows the exchange rate and time delay in any service request etc, can really put a damper on a South African budget.

So with this in mind I decided to look at pursuing this and seeing if I could in fact make a decent business out of it. I also decided to keep an online diary of sorts to try and gain better community awareness and to document my struggles in the hope that someone else could learn from it and pursue their dream (hopefully in a different field :) )

So let the adventure begin and see if the idea will end up in the toilet or if it will allow me to gain the independence that every employee is in search of.


As a note I'm posting with a fair delay, as to not give to away to much of my intention or the process. I do believe and hope this is a first in South Africa, so I do not want someone to steal this idea before I can get my name and services out there..