Change in Azure Pipelines Grant for Private Projects

Vijay Machiraju

Vijay

Azure Pipelines has been offering free CI/CD to customers since the beginning. This allows people trying out Azure DevOps to use nearly all our features, including Microsoft-hosted agents, without having to pay us anything. We offer 1800 free minutes per month on hosted agents to all projects, and 10 parallel jobs to open source projects.

Earlier this year, we announced a change in the process for getting the free tier in public projects. That change was made to handle the abuse of hosted agent pools and to protect the interests of existing customers. While that effort has been successful in stopping abuse from public projects, it shifted the pattern of usage from public projects to private projects.

To address this new vector, we will be selective about automatically providing the free grant for private projects in new organizations. When you create a new organization, you may not get the free tier of 1800 minutes in private projects. (Note that the logic that determines whether you get that concurrency automatically or need to request it may change over time as we improve our ability to estimate the potential for abuse of newly created organizations.) If you do not get the free tier, you can always request it by filling out this form.

This change does not impact any existing organizations. It only impacts new private projects that you create in new Azure DevOps organizations.

Please note that it takes us 2-3 business days to review and respond to your request. If everything is in order, we enable the free tier directly. If not, we may contact you for additional information. If you do not have the free tier in your organization a week after your request and if you did not hear from us in that timeframe, please follow up with us.

We understand that this is not an ideal customer experience. So, we are working on mechanisms to automatically detect when we can safely grant the free tier to an organization. We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause for some of our customers.

33 comments

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  • Avatar
    Ivan J

    Once again, how is GitHub Actions preventing this abuse?

    This feels like a very convenient way to push users away from Azure DevOps with the appearance of security without really telling us the truth.

    • Aaron Hallberg
      Aaron HallbergMicrosoft employee

      GitHub Actions and Azure Pipelines run on the same elastic compute infrastructure and are worked on by partner teams within a common organization. Many of the abuse prevention efforts underway accrue to both products – detecting abuse as it is occurring, shutting down the abusers’ ability to use that elastic compute infrastructure, etc. The most effective abuse prevention efforts stop abuse at the front door, however, by not enabling abusers to get access to free compute in the first place. Those efforts are necessarily unique to the two products, since the front doors are different.

      While the recent changes to acquisition of free pipeline concurrency will impact some new users, they will have no impact on our existing customers of Azure Pipelines. Our highest priority is limiting the ability of abusers of the service to degrade the experience of our existing customers, and that is the purpose of these changes.

      • Avatar
        leoniDEV

        But first you remove the free parallel pipelines for public projects, now this, in the past months you removed most of the integrations between Visual Studio and Azure DevOps, you are degrading the experience of our existing customers

  • Avatar
    leoniDEV

    I agree with Ivan J, it is really a shame how you are managing Azure DevOps!

    It was a really good product, way better than GitHub, by far, but you are destroying it… really sad… 😱

    Please stop this agony and be clear with your customers about your commitment to Azure DevOps, tell as if you are phasing out the product and if we need to switch to GitHub.

    But at least reimplement all the good features from Azure DevOps in GitHub first

    • Avatar
      Ed GlasMicrosoft employee

      @leoniDEV please see the Public Post Mortem on the hosted pools incidents we’ve had (https://status.dev.azure.com/_event/232594872/post-mortem). This has nothing to do with GitHub, it is about protecting our legitimate customers. The email requirement is a short term mitigation while we figure out safe checks to grant pipelines to new legitimate organizations. We have some in place already are are working on adding more.

  • Avatar
    Rubel Rana

    Spent an hour trying to figure out why pipeline isn’t running and what I did wrong with a the new org I just created in Azure DevOps.
    Would have been better if it was mentioned on the ADO pipeline that you need to send an email to get Microsoft hosted agents.

    Also I got a bounce back from azurepipelines-freetier@microsoft.com (mentioned on this blog post).
    Send email to this instead, azpipelines-freetier@microsoft.com
    Got the email address from here.. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/devops/pipelines/licensing/concurrent-jobs?view=azure-devops&tabs=ms-hosted

  • Avatar
    Tomasz Wiƛniewski

    What about situations when we are conducting trainings and people create new organizations? This will be a nightmare… :/

    • Avatar
      Ed GlasMicrosoft employee

      @Tomasz Wiƛniewski training is an important scenario for creating new orgs. Send me mail at edglas at microsoft.com and I can give some ideas.

  • Avatar
    Kevin Elliott

    I’ve been working through some of the modules and learning paths on the Microsoft Learn platform, and have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the content. However, today while trying to work through the Run quality tests in your build pipeline by using Azure Pipelines module (using the provided Azure DevOps Demo Generator template), I was unable to run any pipelines, and it was not at all clear why they were not working. I’m assuming it has something to do with this change because I cannot find another reason why the project’s pipeline is not running (it is always 1 in the queue). If this new change is the reason for this problem, it is a terrible user experience for those trying to learn how to use Azure services through the official Microsoft Learn platform. I would just like to learn how to use DevOps, but in this case it is actively being made inconvenient, because I have to find this specific blog article or see a little note on the top of a specific DevOps docs page in order to find this information out. Was the learning platform considered? What do you propose people like me do?

    • Aaron Hallberg
      Aaron HallbergMicrosoft employee

      Great point, Kevin, and thanks for bringing it to our attention. In the short term, please follow the process outlined in the blog post to request free pipeline concurrency for the organization you created, and apologies for the confusion and friction.

  • Avatar
    Alexander Stefka

    Hi, how long does it usually take until the request is checked and the free tier is provided? I have sent the email to azpipelines-freetier@microsoft.com on Monday (its Thursday now) and have not seen any reaction, even no automatically generated answer to my email. I now have sent a second request …

    I want to continue working as I have an appointment with a partner company soon, time is running, is there any way to speed up the process?

    Thanks, Alexander

    EDIT: Now it works (Friday) – Thanks!

  • Avatar
    J G

    I e-mailed the “azpipelines-freetier@microsoft.com” earlier today. I am concerned it will not be enabled by Tuesday afternoon PST. I have a customer demo that requires this. Is there any way to speed up the approval process. Also from a customer point of view should there not be a banner in the Dev Ops Console warning free-tier customers of this? I wasted a couple hours today only to find this blog by chance.

    Also this should be updated as well. It is misleading. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/devops/azure-devops-services/

  • Avatar
    PJ Evans

    Awesome… I’m right now trying to migrate a whole dotnet stack application and this idea shut down my entire DevOps operation. I literally can’t do anything until somebody at Microsoft turns my account back on. Email already sent.

    • Avatar
      PJ Evans

      Microsoft Support sent me this link… I was driving myself mad trying to figure out why literally everything just stopped running. I am trying to deploy a DB change, build kicked off just fine at 8:17pm EST… Finished… then the release pipeline kicked off at 8:19pm EST, and never got out of queue status. Ever since then, no jobs will run. Funny how their AI/ML got ‘tipped off’ by a common CD/CI pipeline… Wow.

    • Avatar
      PJ Evans

      Awesome… hearing that it could be up to a week before service is restored. Wow. So Microsoft’s own actions screwed up, and I can no longer work for the next week as Microsoft (who caused this problem) needs time to get to my account to fix it.

      Bravo guys: F-

      (at least the support tech, who I got in contact with after having to purchase dev support… JUST to put in a ticket about THIS issue, is literally doing everything he can to fix this on his side.). CAN. NOT. even deploy a DB fix. Wow. really just quite astonishing guys.

    • Avatar
      PJ Evans

      Screw this… Paid for a single pipeline, builds now run. Maybe this whole thing is more of a revenue generating program. Ridiculous.

  • Avatar
    E L

    have you also taken the free access from the existing organizations?
    my pipelines ran all good a weeks ago until yesterday I have created a new project in my existing organization and nothing works now for any of the projects (old and new).

    • Avatar
      E L

      just wanted to update everyone who is in the same boat. They have given me my free access back. it took them around 48 hours to resolve it after I sent them an email.

  • Avatar
    Dw

    I am wondering why Azure pipelines stopped working? I tried creating DevOps projects and pipeline, while running the pipeline I’m getting error as below:
    This agent request is not running because you have reached the maximum number of requests that can run for parallelism type ‘Microsoft-hosted Public’. Current position in queue: 1

    Have you taken the free access? I already dropped an email to “azpipelines-freetier@microsoft.com”, is there any way to speed up the process?

    • Avatar
      E L

      hey, same happened to me. apparently they have taken the free access from existing companies as well.

      • Vijay Machiraju
        Vijay MachirajuMicrosoft employee

        We do not want to take away the free tier for existing organizations. The only way we can respond faster to these requests and to automatically grant free tier to more organizations is to invest in some form of automation – automation to infer that a new organization is risk-free or to identity mining activity and to shut it down. Unfortunately, anytime we invest in automation, there will also be some false positives. We have an abuse detection algorithm that flags a small percent of existing organizations from time to time. Our false positive rate is tiny. However, when that happens to your organization, the system takes away the parallel jobs. When you send a request to us about this, please clearly indicate that you lost the existing concurrency. While we understand the frustration in these threads, please note that we are investing a lot of bandwidth in this problem. And, there will be some bumps on the road. Our goal is to make Azure Pipelines available to users like you and to prevent them from being abused for mining activities.