All major virtualization platform vendors offer a cheap (some even free) solution that allow you to run multiple virtual machines on your desktop. Examples include VMware Workstation, Microsoft Virtual PC and Sun’s VirtualBox.
While desktop virtualization products offer a ‘quick and dirty’ solution for some testing infrastructure needs, they fall short when virtualization is to be truly leveraged across the software labs. [Side note — I have also written about why only a basic hypervisor alone is not sufficient for lab requirements in the past].
If you are currently getting by with desktop virtualization for your testing needs, maybe it is time for you to start looking at centralized virtual lab automation solutions. Virtual lab automation (VLA) solutions such as VMLogix LabManager and VMware Lab Manager are management systems by which recurrent labor-intensive manual tasks necessary in test and development labs can be automated and by which test and development lab processes and infrastructure can be streamlined and centrally managed.
Here are the key benefits of implementing a centralized virtual lab infrastructure instead of relying on individual desktop virtualization solutions:
- Allow all your lab users to leverage the central library of templates and other lab artefacts (scripts, licenses, software etc.). Save your lab users’ time and avoid re-work
- All infrastructure (hosts, storage, user access) is managed by the lab admin; users can access the lab in a self serve manner and focus on the testing
- Collaboration – VLA enables the sharing of multi-machine configurations and other lab artefacts among users/teams making it easy to drive synergies in the software engineering efforts
- Expand the lab use beyond just the testers and developers – bring support, pre-sales and training staff to use the central lab infrastructure effectively. This helps grow the lab user base
- Access to enterprise server grade infrastructure (CPU, storage) to run complex resource intensive jobs (prolonged jobs can be run on the host server farms with no impact to the desktop machines)
- Ability to leverage and use network fencing – i.e., the ability run multiple copies of a multi-machine configuration in parallel without any IP/MAC address conflicts
On the other hand, here is the key benefit of using desktop virtualization.
- Desktop virtualization provides the ability to access the VMs anywhere even when you are not connected to the lab
How is your infrastructure for the testers/devs in your team setup currently? What are your experiences?
– Srihari Palangala