In the past I’ve written about and asked the question – “Does your software test lab have a champion?“. Typically, it is your lab champion who takes up (among other things) the case of sizing the lab. How many hosts do you need? The storage capacity required? How many users? etc.
Solutions like VMLogix LabManager rely on managing a set of virtual hosts that house your virtual lab environment. VMLogix LabManager provides centralized virtual lab operations (across many users and distributed teams) and drives efficiency , improves productivity and reduces your overall IT lab costs. Effective planning on this central lab setup will help users and administrators derive the most benefits.
As you move towards adopting virtualization in your physical pre-production and/or production environments, you will need to plan on capacity using appropriate tools. Companies like VMware, Microsoft, CiRBA, PlateSpin (now Novell) and Lanamark provide specialized tools (some even free, like the one from Microsoft) to help you in your capacity planning. Lanamark also provides assessment services – both a basic free and a premium paid option. Leverage these tools as you plan on virtualizing your servers (either pre-production or in production). [Update 12/5 – Here is an article on VMblog about proactive capacity planning written by Lanamark.]
Note that — once you install and use VMLogix LabManager in your lab environment, you can track resource (including virtual host) utilization – and can use this data to plan on future lab capacity upgrades (or downgrades).
We were at the Software Testing Conference 2008 – it was well organized and a really well attended conference. Given that I know of a couple of conferences that had to cancel in the recent past due to insufficient registrations/sponsors/interest – the audience that STC 2008 drew was very impressive to say the least.
This morning I heard Mr. Gangadharaiah, Sr. VP and Global Head of Testing Services at Wipro Technologies speak about “Next Wave of Testing: Testing as Managed Services and the Business Value Delivered”. It was a well delivered talk and one of the statements that he mentioned caught my attention particularly: People will test more and develop less during these slow economic conditions. What do you think? Will IT managers in your organizations spend more time in software testing and maintenance than taking up new development projects? Vote here:
VMLogix LabManager recently won the “Best Solution from a New Player” award given by Software Test and Performance Magazine. This was announced in their November issue which you can download here.
Quoting from the magazine: “VMLogix LABMANAGER 3.5 took this year’s top spot for Best Solution from a New Player, which we define as a company less than five years old. Released in May, version 3.5 added support for Citrix XenServer 4.1 to its existing support for virtualization systems from Microsoft and VMware. LabManager 3.5 also includes some major user interface enhancements and to virtual network management.”
Voke has published and made available a market commentary titled Fortune 500 Spending Required for IT Cost Savings. From a source that has published about the report:: “Following the economic downturn of 2000 to 2003, the Fortune 500 companies that pursued short-term cost-cutting strategies such as outsourcing and rollbacks in quality assurance found themselves ill prepared for future opportunities. The new research suggests that those enterprise organizations that continue to invest in critical IT areas such as software development, virtualization, and core lifecycle solutions will be better positioned for the next cycle of growth and expansion.”
One of the key findings/recommendations of the report: Invest in virtual lab automation. Again from the above source: “The virtues of virtualization are well documented but less known are the benefits that can be realized by deploying virtual lab automation technologies to streamline the software testing process;”
Virtual lab automation solutions like VMLogix LabManager are used to manage internal/private clouds in the enterprise. The figure below demonstrates a typical deployment of VMLogix LabManager and the private cloud that is managed by it.
Users (e.g., developers, testers, support staff, pre-sales, demo, training etc.) connect to the LabManager server using a web browser. The LabManager server manages a set of virtualization hosts. The virtualization hosts are connected to shared storage; and the shared storage is used to retain the VM templates, VMs, clones and other lab artifacts such as user scripts and licenses.
Users can self-serve their lab infrastructure requirements through LabManager. For e.g., a user testing software can request or create a n-tier configuration which can then be deployed on any of the virtual hosts.
On the other hand, LabManager administrators maintain overall policies and administration control over the deployment. VMLogix LabManager in addition handles the license compliance on the deployed VMs and the sharing of VMs between the multiple users. In addition users can use LabManager to IP Zone (network fence) the configurations. Storage use is optimized through the use of delta-disk technology (linked clones) and administrators can maintain overall user quotas.
These capabilities enable lab administrators to deploy a lab self service framework, where lab users can access and create the required infrastructure (for testing, demo, training etc.) with minimal or no administrator intervention required.
Virtual Lab Automation and the Private Cloud
Here is a brief demo of a self service environment enabled by a virtual lab automation solution:
Most software testers focus on executing functionality, stress, load, performance, unit etc. type of tests. These are predominantly tests of the software being built that is certified/tested against certain hardware and base software stacks and platforms (configurations). There are a set of pre-defined (pristine) test environments (e.g., an OS, database, browser, network connectivity etc.) under which the developed software is installed and these tests are executed and evaluated.
However, as software testers, do you spend time tweaking the test environment setup (e.g., exploratory testing via client browser settings, multiple versions of databases existing on the server, network settings, previous versions of the software already installed and running etc.) and checking if ‘stuff works’ with the developed software? How important do you think it is to test software under various (unchartered) system configurations and setup?
[Update] — I have posted this question on the Software Testing Club as well (including some clarifications on the question). Other testing experts are chipping in and talking about it here.