Home / Managing technical debt with SonarQube and Azure DevOps


Technical debt is the set of problems in a development effort that make forward progress on customer value inefficient. Technical debt saps productivity by making code hard to understand, fragile, time-consuming to change, difficult to validate, and creates unplanned work that blocks progress. Unless they are managed, technical debt can accumulate and hurt the overall quality of the software and the productivity of the development team in the long term

SonarQube an open source platform for continuous inspection of code quality to perform automatic reviews with static analysis of code to:

  • Detect Bugs
  • Code Smells
  • Security Vulnerabilities
  • Centralize Quality

What’s covered in this lab

In this lab, you will learn how to setup SonarQube on Azure and integrate with Azure DevOps project

  • Provision SonarQube server as Azure Container Instance from SonarQube Docker image
  • Setup SonarQube project
  • Provision an Azure DevOps Project and configure CI pipeline to integrate with SonarQube
  • Analyze SonarQube reports

Before you begin

  1. Refer to the Getting Started page before you begin the exercises.

  2. Launch the Azure Cloud Shell from the Azure portal and choose Bash.

  3. Setup SonarQube server as Azure Container Instance:

    i. Create a Resource Group. Replace <region> with the region of your choosing, for example, eastus.

    az group create --name MySonarServer --location <region>

    ii. Create Azure Container Instance with official SonarQube Docker image.

    az container create -g MySonarServer --name sonarqubeaci --image sonarqube --ports 9000 --dns-name-label mysonarqubedns --cpu 2 --memory 3.5


    Name Description
    --name Name of the container instance.
    --image The container image name. Here we are fetching official SonarQube image from DockerHub
    --ports The ports to open. The default port for SoanrQube is 9000. We need to expose this port to access SonarQube.
    --dns-name-label The dns name label for container with public IP.
    --cpu The required number of CPU cores of the containers.
    --memory The required memory of the containers in GB
  4. Once the deployment is successful, you will see the following resources in the Azure Portal.


  5. Use the Azure DevOps Demo Generator to provision a project on your Azure DevOps Organization.

Exercise 1: Create a SonarQube Project and configure Quality Gate

  1. Access the SonarQube portal providing the DNS name (Or Public IP) suffixed by the port number.


  2. Open a browser and login to the SonarQube Portal using the following credentials-

    Username= admin, Password= admin

  3. Click Skip this tutorial in the pop-up window to see the home page.

    Skip tutorial


  4. Choose Administration in the toolbar, click Projects tab and then Management.


  5. Create a project with Name and Key as MyShuttle.

    • Name: Name of the SonarQube project that will be displayed on the web interface.

    • Key: The SonarQube project key that is unique for each project.

    • Leave the Visibility option to Public.


    Let us create a Quality Gate to enforce a policy which fails the gate if there are bugs in the code. A Quality Gate is a PASS/FAIL check on a code quality that must be enforced before releasing software.

  6. Click the Quality Gates menu and click Create in the Quality Gates screen. Enter a name for the Quality Gate and click Create.


  7. Let us add a condition to check for the number of bugs in the code. Click on Add Condition drop down, select On Overall Code, choose the value Bugs.


  8. Set the is greater than value to 0 (zero) and click on the Add button.


  9. To enforce this quality gate for MyShuttle project, click on All under Projects section and select the project checkbox.


Exercise 2: Modify the Build to Integrate with SonarQube

Now that the SonarQube server is running, we will modify Azure Build pipeline to integrate with SonarQube to analyze the java code provisioned by the Azure DevOps Demo Generator system.

  1. Go to pipelines under Pipelines tab, edit the build pipeline SonarQube. This is a Java application and we are using Maven to build the code. And we are using SonarQube extension tasks to prepare analysis on SonarQube and publish Quality Gate results.

  2. Prepare Analysis Configuration task is to configure all the required settings before executing the build. Click + NEW to add SonarQube server endpoint.

    In the Add SonarQube service connection wizard enter the SonarQube server URL and SonarQube security token detials. If you don’t have SonarQube security token follow this to create one. And make sure SonarQube project name and project key are same as you entered while creating SonarQube project in Exercise 1.

  3. Publish Quality Gate Result task is to display the Quality Gate status in the build summary.

  4. Save the changes and queue the build.


  5. You will see that the build has succeeded but the associated SonarQube Quality Gate has failed. The count of bugs is also displayed under SonarQube Analysis Report.


  6. Click on the Detailed SonarQube Report link in the build summary to open the project in SonarQube.


Exercise 3: Analyze SonarQube Reports

The link will open the MyShuttle project in the SonarQube Dashboard. Under Bugs and Vulnerabilities, we can see that there are 4 bugs reported.


The page has other metrics such as Code Smells, Coverage, Duplications and Size. The following table briefly explains each of these terms.

Terms Description
Bugs An issue that represents something wrong in the code. If this has not broken yet, it will, and probably at the worst possible moment. This needs to be fixed
Vulnerabilities A security-related issue which represents a potential backdoor for attackers
Code Smells A maintainability-related issue in the code. Leaving it as-is means that at best maintainers will have a harder time than they should making changes to the code. At worst, they’ll be so confused by the state of the code that they’ll introduce additional errors as they make changes
Coverage To determine what proportion of your project’s code is actually being tested by tests such as unit tests, code coverage is used. To guard effectively against bugs, these tests should exercise or ‘cover’ a large proportion of your code
Duplications The duplications decoration shows which parts of the source code are duplicated
Size Provides the count of lines of code within the project including the number of statements, Functions, Classes, Files and Directories
  1. Click on the Bugs count to see the details of the bug.


With Azure DevOps and SonarQube, the capability is to not only show the health of an application but also to highlight newer issues. With a Quality Gate in place, you can fix the leak and therefore improve code quality systematically.


With SonarQube direct integration with Azure Pipeline, you learnt how to have a quality management tool to ensure that your code is up to standards. You can embed automated testing in your CI/CD pipleine to automate the measurement of your technical debt including code semantics, testing coverage, vulnerabilities. etc.