The Benefit of Network (IP) Zoning in Executing Test Environments

January 28, 2009

One of the benefits of a virtual lab automation and management solution is the ability to execute a configuration (a multi-machine setup) multiple times in parallel, without making any changes to the base configuration. Let me explain through a couple of example scenarios:

  1. Do you want your test engineer to execute a test case – identify a bug – hand it over to developer and then continue with the testing? The developer can then execute a second instance of the test environment (the first being executed by the test engineer) – in parallel without disrupting the work of the test engineer.
  2. Do you want your test engineers to spawn test environment instances off a common base configuration – with each having their own instance, executing in parallel and each executing their own set of test cases?

The list will go on – where there is a fundamental need to execute a configuration several times in parallel without any IP or MAC address conflicts.

Virtual Lab Automation solutions like VMLogix LabManager offer the capability known as network (or IP) zoning. Take a look at the video below and see how easy it is to go about this. I run 2 instances of a multi-machine configuration in parallel — deploying both simultaneously without running into conflicts between the 2 deployed environments.

Related Post: Test environment network configurations made easy with virtual lab automation

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VMLogix LabManager Beats VMware at the Awards

January 27, 2009

We have consistently believed in the best-in-class virtual lab management offering from VMLogix (we got the ServerWatch.com 2008 Product Excellence Award mid last year) – we’re thrilled that late last week the product received another industry recognition validating our belief.

LabManager 2008 Product of the Year (SearchServerVirtualization)

LabManager 2008 Product of the Year (SearchServerVirtualization)

We’re proud to announce that SearchServerVirtualization.com has announced the winners of its second annual Product of the Year awards – and VMLogix LabManager 3.6 has won the GOLD award. You can read the full article here. Here is a brief excerpt from that article:

Lab Management and Workflow Automation category
Of all the products nominated in the Virtual Lab Management category, on the market judges admired the breadth of hypervisor support offered by VMLogix LabManager 3.6, and gave it the Gold award. VMware vCenter Lab Manager 3.0 took home the Silver award, thanks to sophisticated management features that help quality assurance engineers rapidly build out test environments while conserving resources.

If you have not checked it out already – do read about how VMLogix LabManager compares with VMware’s Lab Manager.

If you are interested in trying out the VMLogix product – you can request for a free evaluation here.

– Srihari Palangala

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Demo: The Benefit of Linked Clones in Dev/Test Environments

January 20, 2009

The use of virtual machines in a dev/test environment can quickly become a problem with problems related to VM sprawl. One of the downsides of the VM sprawl problem is the use of storage. A VM is usually several GB in size and with VM sprawl, storage of several TB can be used up quickly.

Enter Linked Clones technology, which we have talked about in the past. In virtual lab automation products, this technology helps optimize the use of storage in VMs. If you derive a VM from a base template (which may be a few Gigs in size), make some modifications (like install software etc.) – and capture this as a template in the library — VLA products like VMLogix LabManager will only capture the difference in the new template. It makes a “linked clone” – therefore, the new template is only a few MB in size compared to the base image of several Gigs. This dramatically reduces the storage requirements and optimizes the storage used by VMs on disk.

Understanding Linked Clones

Understanding Linked Clones

This movie below demonstrates the benefit of Linked Clones.

– Srihari Palangala

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Related post: Shrinking VM snapshots of builds and releases.


Demo: Automating the Creation of a Multi-Machine Test Environment

January 15, 2009

In the previous post, we talked about how a user could self-serve a multi-machine environment from a central repository (library) with no IT intervention. This multi-machine environment could be used for testing, support etc.

Now, what if such a configuration is not available in the library already? I.e., none of your test team/support team members have modeled such a scenario or test case yet?

The demo below shows how easy it is to create a 2-tier configuration – and deploy it in such a way that the deployment and setup occurs in a fully automated manner. In the demo, the 2-tier machine is deployed (Windows XP) and the host name is changed automatically. Other operations, like executing test scripts, populating data bases etc. could also have been done easily. At the end of the demo, we show how the configuration is available in the library and can subsequently be shared with other users/teams etc.

Note: You can enable this management setup over Microsoft, Citrix or VMware virtualization platforms.

– Srihari Palangala

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Demo: Enabling a Self Service Management Environment over Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and VMware

January 13, 2009

Over the past several months, we’ve talked and written quite a bit about the use of virtualization in software engineering. If you are new to this blog, you might consider reading this summary post.

We have talked about how virtual lab automation products can enable a self service environment in the lab – to allow test engineers to self serve test environments. The demo below shows how a user who needs a multi-machine configuration can access one from the library and deploy it in a self service manner – without any IT intervention required.

If you are looking to setup such a self-service management environment in a hypervisor agnostic manner – on Microsoft, VMware or Citrix check out the VMLogix LabManager solution.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting several more videos – its just so much easier to make a point through a video than having to type a 1000 words!

– Srihari Palangala

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The Uses of Virtualization in Software Engineering

January 6, 2009

Are you looking to find out how virtualization (server virtualization, like that offered by VMware, Citrix and Microsoft) can help your software engineering process? Lets look at various stages in the software development process (regardless of the software engineering methodlogy – waterfall/agile/… that you use). By the way, this was

Uses of virtualization spread across the entire ALM cycle

Uses of virtualization spread across the entire ALM cycle

something I wanted to post about and incidentally I also found a recent question about this raised on StackOverFlow.

Do take a look at this list below and let me know use cases that I am missing.

  1. Requirements gathering and Definition
    • Use virtualization during your rapid prototyping and proof of concept (POC) development. Rapidly build up machine configurations, deploy your ‘Hello World’ app and test out the POC.
  2. Design and Development
    • Easily create environments for intermediate (work in progress) demos to customers and management
    • Provide a consistent environment to all your developers
    • Unit test your code on various target OS systems easily
    • Some development organizations may use VDI to ease the management of developers’ desktops
    • Snapshot and save your developers’ environments – easy back up and recovery in case of machine failures
  3. Software Testing
  4. Software Build and Release Management
    • Get virtual machine build farm environments on the fly and on demand. Various virtual lab automation solutions like VMLogix LabManager offer integrations with build tools like IBM Rational Build Forge. Read more about VLA integrations over here. Read more about the Build Forge integration over here.
    • Save your build environments so you can easily revert back to the build configuration of an older version of the software. This is particularly useful during patch releases (I found this use as one of the comments in StackOverFlow).
  5. Source and Version Control
    • Maintain your source control systems on a virtual machine. Use the snapshot and save features to capture (backup) your source control systems easily. Revert back to the last known state in case of machine failures etc.
  6. Software Maintenance
    • Leverage virtual lab management solutions to support your various customers using the software. Easily replicate customer scenarios and reproduce the defects in the software. Share the environment with the developers. This may be useful related reading about the various users of VLA software.
  7. Software Staging and Deployment
    • Products like VMware Stage Manager and VMLogix StageManager help users manage multi-machine configurations in the pre-production staging and system readiness. These management products over the virtualization platforms help users collaborate in a workflow during the staging process and eliminates the risk of service deployment/upgrades to a large extent.
  8. Software Trials and Evaluations
    • Virtualization can help by making software trials and evaluations simpler. Software can be packaged as an appliance and users can immediately evaluate the software features rather than going through the challenges during installation, setup, configuration etc. This is a post that talks about virtual lab automation in software trials and evaluation.

– Srihari Palangala
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Virtual Lab Management Across XenServer, VMware and Hyper-V — Reading Recommendations

January 2, 2009

Over the past several months (since May, 2008 in particular), I have been blogging about the use and impact of virtualization in software engineering; and virtual lab automation in particular. Thank you all for reading and your interest in starsthis blog. From all at VMLogix, our best wishes to you for a very happy and prosperous 2009! As we enter the new year, I wanted to share with you the some summary information from the blog.

Top posts of 2008

This blog has had ~13,000 views and has 93 published posts to date. The top 5 posts (based on views) on this blog have been:

  1. Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX Server Impact on Virtual Lab Automation (1096 views)
  2. Management tools available for Hyper-V (568 views)
  3. Test environment network configurations made easy with Virtual Lab Automation (448 views)
  4. Importance of Linked Clones in Virtual Lab Management (358 views)
  5. IBM Rational Quality Manager/RTLM Demos (215 views)

I also spent some time going through the posts and pulling together a set of reading recommendations if you are new to virtual lab automation and the technology. Here is the list, I hope you find it as a useful index into the blog:

Key reading recommendations/posts if you are getting started with Virtual Lab Management
(Regardless of your hypervisor choice — across XenServer, VMware or Hyper-V)

About Virtual Lab Automation as a Technology

How VLA would fit in your ecosystem (other products, many lab users etc.)

Virtual Lab Management Technology Benefits

In 2009, we will continue to maintain this blog focus on the management and use of virtualization in various aspects of software engineering. We do look forward to staying engaged with you.

Once again, best wishes for a great 2009!

– Srihari Palangala

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