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Table of contents
1.
Introduction 
2.
ALM in Azure
2.1.
Application Lifecycle Management(ALM)
2.1.1.
Importance of ALM
2.1.2.
Key Areas Of ALM
3.
Concepts used for understanding ALM by using Power Platform
3.1.
Solution
3.2.
Environment
3.2.1.
Types of environments used in ALM
3.2.2.
Production
3.2.3.
Sandbox
3.2.4.
Developer
3.3.
Source Control
4.
Branching and merging strategy
5.
Source control process using a solution
6.
Automation
7.
Integration and deployment
8.
Frequently Asked Questions
8.1.
What do you understand by Application Lifecycle Management(ALM)?
8.2.
What are environments in ALM, and describe their different types?
8.3.
What do you understand by GitHub?
9.
Conclusion 
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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ALM in Azure

Author Sarthak
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Ashwin Goyal
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Introduction 

In this blog, we will discuss concepts of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), implementation of ALM on power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, and Microsoft Dataverse.

ALM in Azure

ALM in Azure

Application Lifecycle Management(ALM)

ALM stands for application lifecycle management, comprising governance, development, and maintenance. Additionally, it incorporates the following disciplines:, requirements management, software architecture, testing, change management, support, continuous integration, and deployment.

ALM enhances product quality, maximizes productivity, and lessens the management and maintenance burden for associated goods and services by merging and organizing the parts of an application's lifecycle.

Application Lifecycle Management(ALM)

Importance of ALM

  • ALM assists businesses in establishing and upholding proper project criteria.
  • By including frequent, thorough testing, ALM also enhances the development process.
  • During the software's lifetime, it also aids developers in modifying development procedures and objectives.
  • To create the best software possible, ALM also ensures that all teams, including development, operations, and security, can work together productively.

Key Areas Of ALM

  • Management of requirements, resource allocation, nurture, and system administration, including data security, user access, update tracking, review, audit, deployment control, and rollback, are all included in governance.
  • Application development includes determining the problems and planning, designing, building, and testing the application and its ongoing improvements. Traditional developer and app creator roles fall within this category.
  • Deploying the app and keeping up with optional and reliant technologies are both considered maintenance.

The cyclical software development process known as the application lifecycle includes the following steps: plan and track, create, build and test, deploy, run, monitor, and learn from discovery.

Application Lifecycle
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Concepts used for understanding ALM by using Power Platform

The cyclical software development process known as "application lifecycle management" for the Power platform includes the following areas:

  • Solution.
  • Environment.
  • Source control.

Solution

Solutions are the mechanism for implementing ALM in Power Apps and Power Automate. Solutions are applied to move components and apps from one environment to another or to modify already-existing apps.

Features of Solutions:-

  • Model-driven apps, canvas apps, site maps, flows, entities, forms, custom connectors, online resources, option sets, charts, and fields are just a few examples of the numerous Microsoft Power Platform elements.
     
  • Any environment that isn't the solution's development environment can be deployed using managed solutions. These environments comprise test, user acceptance testing (UAT), system integration testing (SIT), and production settings. In a controlled environment, managed solutions are handled (upgraded, patched, and deleted) independently of one another. Managed solutions must be produced by a build server and regarded as a build artifact following ALM best practices.
     
  • A patch only includes modifications to a parent-managed solution. You need to use patches when you need to make minor modifications (like a hotfix) that may need to be removed. Patches are added as layers to the parent solution when they are imported. Using a patch won't allow you to remove components.
Solution

Environment

An environment is used as a container to divide apps that provide security needs or target audiences. Creating an environment strategy comprises setting up environments and additional layers of data security to promote efficient growth inside your firm while also organizing and protecting resources. It is a technique for managing environment provisioning, access, and resource control. There can only be one Microsoft Dataverse database per environment.

Types of environments used in ALM

  1. Production
  2. Sandbox
  3. Developer.

Production

Production is meant to be used for ongoing employment inside an organization. If there is 1 GB of accessible database capacity, it may be created and controlled by an administrator or anybody with a Power Apps license. When an existing Dataverse database is updated to version 9.0 or later, these environments are also established for each database. It has complete control over security.

Sandbox

Any Dataverse non-production environment is a sandbox environment. A sandbox environment, which is separate from production, is the best area to build and test application updates risk-free. Sandbox environments provide features like reset, delete, and copy actions that would be detrimental in a production setting.

Developer

You can use Power Apps Premium, Dataverse, and Power Automate for personal use if you have the Power Apps Developer Plan. This plan is primarily intended for learning or building and testing Power Apps, Power Automate, and Microsoft Dataverse applications.

Source Control

In contrast to the developer's desktop, the building environment can be used to "create" solution-aware developer code assets, including plug-ins, PCF code components, and form scripts. The assets should incorporate into a solution that will be installed or exported after being built to a destination environment.

In contrast to the developer's desktop, the building environment should be used to "create" solution-aware developer code assets, including plug-ins, PCF code components, and form scripts. The assets should either be incorporated into a solution that will be installed or exported after being built to a destination environment.

A source control-centric strategy will enable building and releasing pipelines in an Azure DevOps strategy. You must specify the app developers' and app makers' workflows if you are using an environment-centric approach.

Source control

Branching and merging strategy

Every source control system supports merging and branching to some extent. When you branch, you leave the primary development path is continue your work without making any changes to the main course. Combining one component into another, such as from a development branch into a mainline member, is called the merging. Release branching, feature branching, and trunk-based branching are some popular branching techniques. The branch name might optionally contain other details, such as the branch's creator.

Some suggestions for naming your feature branches:

  • feature/feature-name
  • feature/feature-area/feature-name
  • hotfix/description
  • users/username/description
  • users/username/workitem
  • bugfix/description

Source control process using a solution

When working with solutions in a source control system, there are two primary routes you should take:

  • In the source control system, export the unmanaged solution and add it unpacked. The build process imports the packaged solution as an unmanaged solution (sandbox environment) to create a temporary building environment. Export the solution as managed, and put it in your source control system as a build artifact.
     
  • The managed and unmanaged versions of the solution should be exported and placed in the source control system. Although this approach does not have a build environment, maintaining two copies of all components means one copy of all unmanaged parts from the unmanaged solution and one copy of all managed elements from the managed solution.
Source control process using a solution

Automation

Automate standard production and deployment procedures associated with apps created on Microsoft Power Platform by using the Microsoft Power Platform Build Tools. Your production and release pipelines can be made up of jobs from the Microsoft Power Platform Build Tools and any other Azure DevOps tasks available. Teams commonly put pipelines in place, including Initiate, Export from Dev, Build, and Release.

Automation

Integration and deployment

Using any source control system, you can create a pipeline for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). The emphasis of this guide is on Azure DevOps and GitHub. Millions of developers utilize a development platform like GitHub. Azure DevOps offers developer services to help teams with plan development, code development collaboration, and the creation and deployment of apps. For this:-

  • You need to create a GitHub account.
  • An Azure DevOps organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you understand by Application Lifecycle Management(ALM)?

ALM stands for application lifecycle management, comprising governance, development, and maintenance.

What are environments in ALM, and describe their different types?

An environment is used as a container to divide apps that provide security needs or target audiences. The different types of environments are Production, Sandbox, Developer, Default, Trial, and Microsoft Dataverse for Teams.

What do you understand by GitHub?

GitHub is a code hosting platform for version control and collaboration. It lets you and others work together on projects from anywhere.

Conclusion 

To summarise this blog, we first talked about Application Lifecycle Management, different terminologies used in ALM, Automation process, Integration, and development.

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