Richard Fennell

Richard Fennell

Microsoft MVP

Richard is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Black Marble Ltd a Microsoft Gold Partner based in the North of England. Black Marble specialises in DevOps consultancy and bespoke development usually on Microsoft platforms

As CTO he is responsible for the delivery of systems and tools to allow Black Marble, and their clients, to deliver solutions efficiently. All Black Mable’s development activity is underpinned by Azure DevOps tools and an agile process model.

He is a MVP for Developer Tools (nee Visual Studio ALM, nee Team System), an ALM Ranger, a Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS) and a Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Current sessions

Automated your common processes with GitHub Actions

In the past, we all always focused on automating our build and deploy process as part of our DevOps process, using CI/CD tools.

But why stop there?

There are plenty of other common actions a development team does every day that are candidates for automation that are not directly code related.

In this session, I discuss how GitHub Actions can be used to automate many of your processes to make your whole software development cycle more efficient and consistent.


How can I automatically create Azure DevOps Release Notes and how can I publish them?

Good documentation is important to all software development projects. However, it is often an area that is neglected.

Though not a 100% solution, the creation of good release notes is an important part of the documentation set.

In this session, I will show how release notes can be automatically generated directly within your Azure DevOps Pipelines. This can be done whether you are using Classic UI based builds and release or the newer multi-stage YAML pipelines. The resultant files providing the basis upon which the final documentation.


Introduction to GitHub Actions

An overview of GitHub Actions for people new to them, including a demo of their creation.

Followed by a discussion, and demonstration, of how to convert a custom Azure DevOps task written in Node.JS to be a custom GitHubAction hosted in the GitHub Marketplace - what works and what does not.


Automatically provisioning private Azure DevOps Agents

It is great that Azure DevOps Services has hosted agents you can use for Windows, Mac and Linux that make it really quick to create your own CI/CD pipelines. However, sometime you need a 'special' private agent running on your hardware, not something in the Azure.

You can of course build these by hand, but is that really the best way if the rest of your DevOps processes are automate?

In this session I will show how you can provision your own agents using the same Packer scripts as used by Microsoft for their hosted agents, and how the VHDs Packer creates can be deployed onto your own HyperV hosts using Azure DevOps pipelines to give a completely automated process