This blog has been talking about automation in virtual labs for a while now — so what exactly do we mean by it? Maybe it is time we bring some clarity around this.
Automation to a lot of users of virtual labs is the ability to spin up and tear down virtual machines on the fly (leveraging a central repository/library). This enables IT admins to provide lab users with self-serve capabilities. At VMLogix, we view this level of automation as a great start. However VMLogix LabManager provides a lot more in the name of automation (to IT admins and users alike).
A couple of pictures will speak a thousand words. The first picture below is the VMLogix LabManager high level architecture layout. Like you will see, many virtual hosts are managed by a central VMLogix LabManager server. These virtual hosts are able to bring up and tear down VMs, multi-machine VM configurations etc. on the fly (thanks to the VMLogix VMagent existing on each host — see the second picture). Thats where the definition and implementation of automation stops in the conventional sense.
The second image below is more interesting in the context of automation and VMLogix LabManager. Each virtual host can support multiple VMs (LabManager supports multiple hypervisors including Citrix, Microsoft and VMware) — in each VM, you have the option of running a VMLogix guest agent. We believe that this guest agent provides the next level of automation & management support in virtual labs. IT admins and users can now run several operations inside each of the VMs — for example, installing software, cleaning the machine environment, capturing a movie, executing a command, pausing operations etc. You can see the full list of operations here.
We believe that this “second level of automation” provides users with a lot of flexibility and truly takes away manual repetitive tasks out of their hand. Think of the time you have spent getting a build machine ready, a test machine environment ready, a developer machine ready, …. and the list keeps growing. You can now automate all these operations to get the internals of a VM setup the way you want it. And if our repertoire of operations out of the box is not sufficient, you can build custom operations as well 🙂
Now, does this level of virtual lab automation help you in your job?
Today VMLogix LabManager supports leading hypervisors from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware as well. As newer hypervisors from these industry leaders are released (such as Hyper-V), VMLogix is committed to maintaining the hypervisor agnostic stance as a strategic differentiator.
[Updated] — Here is a movie of LabManager deploying a configuration with guest operations (watch the “Deploy a Multi-Machine Configuration” movie).
– Srihari Palangala