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Collaboration in a Hybrid Environment

Collaboration is one of the most used words in IT in the last couple of years, and with cloud technologies the word Hybrid is not far away.

Words such as Collaboration, Cloud and Hybrid are becoming ubiquitous because the concept of work is changing, how to work is changing, and how to access information is changing.

In an agile delivery model using scrum, we have a product owner, scrum master and a delivery team. Due to the globalisation of the economy it is very common to have a number of your team members in different locations and sometimes the communication standards are not good as they are supposed to be.

Agile delivery approaches have become common in a number of industries with scrum team structures being used to deliver projects outside software engineering. These scrum teams can be distributed across countries and times zone which typically creates inefficient communication flows and negatively effects agile deliveries.

To facilitate this distributed agile model, companies are taking risks by giving access to internal environments to partners, off site product owners and customers. This can create complex and difficult to manage infrastructure configurations.

Microsoft’s Office 365, Visual Studio Team Services and Azure Active Directory services are becoming the key stone of a simplified and management collaboration set up.

This concept of distributed agile teams working together using Microsoft PAAS and SAAS cloud technologies is described below:

  • Product Owners or partners access to SharePoint Online in Office 365 using their domain accounts as guests.
  • Product Owners use the same account to access all the user stories, product backlog and task in Visual Studio Team Services.


Figure 1- Product Owner Access

  • Simultaneously the Scrum team can access to the same SharePoint Online and Visual Studio Team Services using Azure Active Directory, which is in sync with the On-Premise Active Directory via Azure AD Connect.

Figure 2 – Scrum Team Access

To make all of the above a reality, the collaboration and identity management solutions both on-premise and in the cloud, must be connected to a unique instance of Azure Active Directory.

Initially O365 is created in its own tenancy and thus is connected to an Azure Active Directory. AD Connect is the tool used to sync your On-Premise Active Directory with your Azure Active Directory.

In your Azure Subscription you can create multiple services like Visual Studio Team Services, which allows you to manage source code, product backlog, Kanban’s and tasks used by the scrum team. Furthermore, when you create your Azure Subscription another Azure Active Directory is created for you by default.

After the replacement of your Azure Active Directory in the subscription for your Azure Active Directory in O365 all your teams and product owners have access to the same assets and features.

Azure Active Directory B2B is the feature enabled by Microsoft to allow partners and external people to join your domain organization like any other internal user.

By giving external access by Azure Active Directory B2B to your product owners and partners they have the chance to collaborate in Visual Studio Team Services and SharePoint Online.

The most amazing thing is that all the partners and product owners don’t have to pay any license to work with SharePoint Online and work with Visual Studio Team Services for user stories and tasks. One thing that you have to keep in mind is that the licenses used have limitations in terms of functionality.

SharePoint Online external user’s licenses

Visual Studio Team Services Stakeholders licenses

Written by:

Jorge Rodriguez Alvarez – Head of UX, Productivity & DW at Sogeti Ireland

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