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Migrating from Azure DevOps to GitHub: What to Know

So, you’re thinking about moving from Azure DevOps to GitHub? Great choice. Before you start migrating, there are a few things you should know to ensure a smooth transition.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the advantages of moving from Azure DevOps to GitHub, the differences between the two platforms’ functionalities, and what you will need to know prior to performing a migration to help set your team up for success. 

We’ll also do a deep dive into each platform’s capabilities when it comes to project management and share our thoughts on how teams can address some of the gaps that exist between Azure DevOps Boards and GitHub Projects. Alright, let’s get started. 

Why Move from Azure DevOps to GitHub?

While there are plenty of reasons to choose either of these tools, here are a few common reasons we’re hearing as to why companies are moving from Azure to GitHub in 2024: 

GitHub’s AI advantage: AI adoption is a critical component of every organization’s top-level strategy in 2024. GitHub has quickly emerged as an industry leader in AI, and GitHub Copilot is becoming a household name amongst software developers.

The future of Microsoft: While Microsoft hasn’t announced they’ll be deprecating Azure DevOps, it’s unlikely they’ll be investing in any meaningful developments to the platform, given that they acquired GitHub as the focal point of their developer tool strategy. 

Developer onboarding: The fact that most developers are already familiar with GitHub from using it with their personal projects means there’s virtually no onboarding. GitHub is purpose-built for developers, which is reflected in the accessibility and appeal of their UI. 

Integration diversity: Thanks to its best-in-class GraphQL API and open-source emphasis, GitHub’s Marketplace outshines Azure DevOps with a broader and more varied array of integrations and add-ons compared to the Azure DevOps Marketplace. 

Community support: With a community of more than 100 million developers, GitHub offers superior support and collaborative opportunities, making problem-solving, troubleshooting, and best practice sharing more prevalent than on Azure DevOps. 

Considerations when moving from Azure DevOps to GitHub

You’ll need to be aware of several important considerations when moving from Azure DevOps to GitHub, including technical considerations, differences in functionality, overall user experience, and the terminology used to describe different features. 

Here are the top items we think teams should be aware of when making the switch: 

Repository Transfer

Preparation and planning: Before beginning the migration, it is crucial to plan your move. This includes deciding what type of migration you need (e.g., source snapshot, source and history, or source, history, and metadata) and understanding the structure of your current Azure DevOps setup and your intended GitHub organization. 

Using migration tools: GitHub has developed specific tools to facilitate the migration process. The ADO2GH extension, for example, helps create a detailed migration plan. This plan includes generating scripts that automate the migration tasks, ensuring a more efficient and error-free process. The process is tailored to manage multiple repositories simultaneously, allowing up to five repository migrations to run simultaneously​.

CI/CD Pipelines

The equivalent of Azure DevOps Pipelines in GitHub is called “GitHub Actions.” Here are some things to consider when migrating your CI/CD workflows and pipelines: 

Azure integrations: Due to GitHub Actions’ lack of direct Azure service integration, you may need to rethink some integrations currently set up in your CI/CD pipelines with other Azure services. The good news is that GitHub offers a dedicated section within its marketplace for GitHub Actions that features a number of open-source and GitHub-verified actions. 

CI/CD pipeline conversion: Azure DevOps uses YAML-based Azure Pipelines, whereas GitHub uses GitHub actions. GitHub offers the GitHub Actions Importer tool for teams coming from Azure DevOps pipelines. This tool can forecast GitHub Actions usage based on your Azure Pipeline runs and assists in converting Azure DevOps pipelines into GitHub Actions workflows. 

It supports dry-run migrations to test the conversion process and production migrations that create pull requests with the converted workflows for seamless integration into GitHub.

Issue Tracking and Project Management

If you’ve been working in Azure DevOps, there’s a good chance you’ve been tracking issues and managing projects via Azure’s homegrown solution, “Azure Boards.” Azure Boards offers functionality like Kanban boards for visualizing work progress, backlogs for prioritizing tasks, sprints for planning iterations and cycles, as well as simple reporting tools. 

Migrating work items from Azure DevOps to GitHub

Migrating work items from Azure DevOps to GitHub involves transferring repo-level data like issues, tasks, and user stories to GitHub’s Project boards. For migrating work items from Azure DevOps to GitHub, consider using tools like the Azure DevOps Migration Tools available on GitHub. This tool supports migrating teams, backlogs, tasks, test cases, and more between Azure DevOps projects, which can be part of your transition to GitHub. 

Mapping Azure Boards to GitHub Projects

Although GitHub Projects provides some basic functionality for planning and tracking work, it lacks many of the dedicated Agile project management features provided by Azure Boards. 

Here’s a closer look at how they compare:

Can I integrate Azure Boards with GitHub?

Integrating Azure boards with GitHub is possible, but it has several known limitations that make it generally not recommended. Some of these include: 

  • A GitHub repository should only be linked to one Azure DevOps Project at a time. Attempting to connect to multiple projects can lead to unexpected # mention errors.  
  • Azure Boards supports a maximum of 500 connected GitHub repositories, making it difficult for larger organizations with more than 500 GitHub repos. 
  • Direct querying for work items linked to GitHub artifacts isn’t possible, though items with any external link can be found by searching for an External Link Count > 0.

Enter Zenhub: Making Agile “work” in GitHub

If you’re an Agile team, hearing about GitHub’s lack of purpose-built Agile functionality might give you second thoughts about migrating. The good news is that there’s a way to enable Agile project management experience in GitHub that outshines Azure DevOps’ project management capabilities without the clunky integrations–enter Zenhub.

Zenhub is the most advanced Agile integration for GitHub. Zenhub enables everything missing in GitHub projects, like sprint planning, org-wide roadmaps, Epics, story pointing, and multi-repository boards, while allowing users to leverage their existing GitHub Issues.

In addition to providing a wide array of Agile functionality out of the box, Zenhub also comes with a number of time-saving automation and AI-powered features to help teams improve the accuracy of their project data and save time when it comes to manual updates. If you’re migrating to GitHub, here’s why Zenhub is worth a serious look:

Automated Agile events: Zenhub makes running agile processes automatic. With Automated Sprints, you can set a regularly occurring sprint schedule that auto-populates with new Issues every sprint. With Zenhub’s Daily Feed, you have an auto-generated “standup” view of your team’s work in progress and blocked work. With Planning Poker, teams can asynchronously estimate work without ever needing to schedule a meeting. 

AI-powered experiences: AI-powered experiences make Zenhub teams more productive than ever. AI-generated Acceptance Criteria and AI Labels help speed up the Issue creation process and ensure that work in Zenhub is always properly categorized. With AI Sprint Reviews, team leads, and project managers can generate an AI-powered summary of everything your team worked on over the course of the last sprint. Learn more about Zenhub AI here.

Real-time roadmaps: Zenhub’s roadmaps give high-level views of your work-in-progress and are updated automatically based on real-time data in GitHub. Projects and Epics on the roadmap can be color-coded according to their risk (green, yellow, red) to help teams quickly identify at-risk projects that need attention. Predicted end dates leverage the team’s velocity to help teams visualize when key initiatives are scheduled to be completed.

Reporting & insights: Zenhub offers a comprehensive suite of Agile reports that are out-of-the-box—no customization, configuration, or setup is required. These reports include Sprint reports like Burndown/Burnup and Velocity reports and more Kanban-centric reports like Cumulative Flow and Control Point charts. With GitHub Insights, teams can get personalized improvement recommendations and benchmark their performance relative to other teams. 

Migration and GitHub integration: The best part about leveraging Zenhub is that no migration is required to start managing your GitHub Issues in Zenhub. Simply connect your GitHub account to Zenhub to see GitHub Issues on your boards. Zenhub also has a GitHub extension that allows users to access Zenhub’s features directly inside GitHub without needing to log into a separate tool—perfect for developers who are already working in GitHub. 

Final thoughts

In summary, transitioning from Azure DevOps to GitHub offers several advantages, including GitHub’s advanced AI capabilities, a more intuitive user interface, and a larger community with robust integration options. However, careful consideration is necessary to address the differences in project management features, such as the lack of hierarchical work item organization and Agile tools in GitHub. Despite these differences, Zenhub can make running Agile processes in GitHub even more powerful than Azure DevOps. 

Want help migrating your project management to Zenhub now that you’re using GitHub? Talk to an expert here. 

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