Automate the Customization of Your Software Stack in the VM and Control VM Template Sprawl in Your Labs

The Problem

IT administrators of virtual environments usually create a library of customized machine templates with the required software stack setup on each virtual machine template. However, with the software stack becoming complex and with multiple versions of each component software, the matrix of software stack combinations really explode. For instance, consider a simple web based PHP application which requires a software environment with MySQL, Apache web server and PHP. With different versions of MySQL (4.1, 5.0, 6.0), Apache (1.3, 2.0.and 2.2) and PHP (4.4, 5.2 etc…) the number of machine templates required for each of these combinations could easily become unmanageable. Maintaining machine templates for each of these setups becomes a nightmare for IT administrators (this is really another variation of the VM sprawl problem). The time and effort required to upgrade and maintain the patch levels of each of these templates makes the problem even more acute.

The Solution

VMLogix LabManager, in addition to offering advanced machine template management and efficient provisioning capabilities, also has the concepts of Software Packages and User Scripts that give the flexibility to the end users to select and deploy the software packages of their choice at run time on the deploying virtual machines. This feature is being leveraged by many of our customers who have chosen the option to manage a limited number of templates and rely on the Software packages automation capabilities to customize the software stacks within the deployed virtual machines (with the customization happening at deployment run time). This capability provides the end user the flexibility to dynamically change the software stack and also saves the administrator tremendous time in managing the machine templates (since the number of machine templates is very less). End users start their work with a base OS template and choose the software (and versions) to be installed from a drop down list.  This is a unique feature built into VMLogix LabManager and is not available in any of the competing virtual lab solutions.

Though software packages are very useful to dynamically setup the software stack, they may not be useful in all cases. For example, for server software applications that requires a lot of complex fine tuning and configuration settings to be done and which cannot be automated using Software Packages feature. Hence a VMLogix LabManager customer can create a mix of pre-configured customized templates (for complex server software) and software packages (for simple desktop applications) to optimally setup the lab resources and provide maximum flexibility and efficiency to the end user.

Below is a video featuring the creation of Software Packages by the administrator. The admin can upload the software installer executables into VMLogix LabManager and also provide the commands to perform a silent install of the software. Also the video shows how the end user can add these software packages while deploying the configurations.

– Palani

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