ISVs and SMBs usually end up in a situation where they need to maintain and operate multiple software test labs (for e.g., as a result of offices/development centers in multiple geographic locations). However, maintaining and running multiple labs has many inherent disadvantages and can be very expensive. Centralizing lab operations is increasingly seen as a must-have capability for all software development organizations.
Lab consolidation and using VMLogix LabManager Virtual Lab Automation to drive the consolidation would provide the following immediate benefits and value (to lab users and administrators/managers):
- Drive efficiency and foster synergies across locations:
VMLogix LabManager provides a standard web user interface for users and lab administrators to get and share access to virtual machine/software licenses/storage/etc. resources and artefacts in the lab. Distributed teams can now all access and use the same repository of lab resources. This centralization – (a) enables lab users/teams to collaborate (share artefacts such as software scripts), (b) drives lab efficiency and (c) reduces re-work done by individual users in the lab (users can leverage scripts/VM templates etc from other users). The centralization also brings in virtual machine sprawl under control.
- Control lab operational costs:
Consolidating lab operations enables lab managers to rationalize the lab infrastructure – including the use of storage required in the lab and the hardware requirements of the lab. Creation of standalone virtual machines quickly takes up storage capacity (every virtual machine is a full image, including copies and clones created). With a centralized VMLogix LabManager operation using linked clones, the storage capacity required is dramatically reduced. Furthermore, lab administrators can plan lab capacity utilization – since VMLogix LabManager provides a central dashboard and reports of lab resource utilization and usage. With a distributed system, it is difficult if not impossible to keep track of lab resource utilization.
- Enable a policy driven self-service environment:
Consolidating lab operations with VMLogix LabManager will allow lab managers/administrators to give lab users the benefit of “self-service”. That is, users can now automatically request and provision virtual machine resources – which they can get access to and use. Lab administrators only manage the policies and control – for e.g., user quotas, access permissions etc. to ensure that each lab user is operating under certain bounded conditions.
- Speed up mundane provisioning tasks:
VMLogix LabManager provides automation and self-service in the provisioning of multi-machine environments. In addition, VMLogix LabManager supports guest VM automation operations. Both of these advanced automation capabilities mean that users spend less time on mundane provisioning tasks and instead focus on higher value lab operations. For example, this lab automation enables multi-machine test environments to be created rapidly.
- Centrally manage all software assets:
VMLogix LabManager allows users and administrators to bring multiple lab assets under central control. For example, user scripts/software packages/licenses etc. can be brought under central administration and control. With this, lab administrators can enforce license compliance (either hard or soft license compliance can be enabled). This is particularly useful in terms of SOX compliance requirements (which again is very difficult to do across multiple lab locations). Combined with the ability to share and collaborate (e.g., the sharing of software scripts), this is a powerful way for lab users to benefit from avoiding re-work.
- Integrate with ALM and Test Automation Tools:
VMLogix LabManager integrates with leading ALM tools from IBM Rational and HP. With lab consolidation, lab administrators can now enable their users to leverage the lab in conjunction with these tools. For example, users can enable IBM Rational Build Forge to leverage a set of central virtual machines (created, used and torn down on the fly by VMLogix LabManager) for the build automation process.
- Control and manage lab security:
With a distributed set of operations, it is difficult for the lab administrator to control lab security. Once the lab operations are consolidated, the administrator can enable audit trails and logs in VMLogix LabManager. This automatically captures the users accessing the lab including the changes made in the lab artefacts/resources. This allows the administrator to keep a logical security view on the lab resources (beyond just the traditional security to individual machines).
- Expand the Lab Relevance to Other Groups:
With lab consolidation, the lab manager can expand the relevance and applicability of the lab to other groups. Traditionally, only developers and testers would have access to distributed lab locations. With centralization and the ability to access the lab via a web browser, support/training/pre-sales/field etc. teams can now remotely login and share the pooled lab resources. This also means that feedback loops from the field/support are a lot faster and quicker.
Are there other benefits that you can see as a result of the consolidation of lab operations? Drop me a note or leave a comment here.
– Srihari Palangala
References to other posts on this blog:
- Virtual lab automation to manage software assets in your lab
- Automation in Virtual Labs – What exactly do we mean by it?
- Network Fencing – Yet another key feature from Virtual Lab Automation products
- What Virtual Lab Automation Offers Over and Above a Hypervisor
- Test Environment Network Configurations Made Easy with Virtual Lab Automation
- Test Automation Tools and Virtual Lab Automation
- Self serve IT enabled in the software lab through virtual lab automation
- Rapid Test Environments – Supporting automation processes in your guest virtual machines