Get Started with Microsoft Dev Box

Modern-day problems require modern-day solutions. The way we work has changed, with remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, and this especially rings true for development teams. It’s important to ensure developer workstations can keep pace and be flexible so as not to interrupt their productivity. 

Microsoft Dev Box is a newly released cloud service that aims to provide a secure developer workstation for developers working in hybrid teams. Essentially, they can focus on coding with pre-configured tools and resources as opposed to losing time setting up, configuring, and maintaining workstations. Simultaneously, Microsoft Endpoint Manager is integrated with Dev Box providing the IT team with uniform governance, compliance, and security.  

While Dev Box is an exciting new service, it’s currently in private preview. If you’re eager to use it, you’ll have to sign up for the waiting list. Nonetheless, let’s have a deeper look at the benefits of Microsoft Dev Box. 

A new look at developer workstations

A common frustration with onboarding or starting with a new company is getting your workstation setup. It takes a significant amount of time which results in a huge amount of time lost before they’re able to make their first commit. Secondly, for senior or more experienced developers, working across different projects can sometimes lead to dependencies that are incompatible with one another. This has the potential to greatly disrupt their workstation.  

Microsoft Dev Box provides your team the ability to create an image and maintain it, alongside all the tools and dependencies they’ll need to build and test their apps. On top of this, the source code for the app and nightly built binaries can be included in the Dev Box, which can allow developers to skip the re-build phase and immediately start running the code. 

Another great feature is the developer portal, which provides your team the ability to create and delete Dev Boxes for any of their projects. You can create a Dev Box whenever you want to keep projects separate, experiment on a proof-of-concept, or parallelise jobs across an environment. Dev boxes can even assist with legacy apps by allowing you to quickly produce an environment that can recreate and diagnose issues as they arise.  

Dev Box simplifies management

With Azure Active Directory integration, new team members can be quickly onboarded and provided access to the Dev Boxes they’ll need for their projects. Besides new additions to the team, Dev Boxes are also especially useful for remote work by providing them with a high-fidelity experience and gigabit connection speeds, regardless of their location. You’ll only have to deploy the Dev Box in the developer’s local region and connect through the Azure Global Network. 

If you’re outsourcing to an external development team and want to boost your network security, you can establish role-based permissions. This limits accessibility to external contractors without diminishing the flexibility or access of your local internal teams. 

You can also automatically ‘hibernate’ your Dev Box at the end of the day, when it isn’t in use, to save costs. Your team can easily ‘wake’ them when they’re needed and continue where they left off. These costs are then easily visible to your team from a single view, which can assist with understanding expenses across several teams and projects. 

Security compliance across developer workstations

The benefits of Microsoft Dev Box aren’t limited to just more flexible workstations and empowering dev teams, it also heightens security. As mentioned prior, the service is integrated with Windows 365, and Endpoint Manager. With expedited feature updates, zero-day patches can be deployed across all devices within an organisation. And, in the event that a Dev Box is compromised, IT admins can isolate it and set up a new Dev Box without causing a major disruption. 

We also mentioned how Azure Active Directory can be used with a Dev Box to manage permissions and access controls. Well, administrators can also assign conditional access policies such as multi-factor authentication, connecting through a compliant device, or constructing risk-based sign-in policies if sensitive code or data is being handled.  

Currently, Microsoft Dev Box is able to support any integrated development environment (IDE), software development kit (SDK), or internal tool running on Windows. Above all, any workload you can build from a Windows Desktop can be targeted with a Dev Box. And best of all, since Microsoft Dev Box is a service hosted on the cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere!