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    Vmware currently is going through the wars. A change of CEO, a plunging  share-price and a competitor getting alot of attention with their new product, that being Microsoft with Hyper-V. However, I just don't get it!? ESX Enterprise is still out in front in terms of features and pricing is very competitive. Any organisation performing their own unbiased product comparison evaluations is going to be hard pushed to discount Vmware's flagship product. The killer feature for many is ofcourse Vmotion that sadly none of the competitors have an answer for. So Vmware has it all to play for.

    Another area that the competition hasn't got an answer for is meeting the specific virtualisation needs in the development and testing arena's. Vmware has an offering here with the Lab Manager products.

    Vmware Lab Manager enables Software Developers, Testers and Support Personnel to suspend, then capture to a shared storage library, a complete state of configurations – or collections of running interdependent systems that span multiple servers.

    Over time, a library of configurations, including test scenarios, production environments and system configurations can be built. When a configuration in the library is needed later for development or test purposes, for example to test a new software build in the context of an .Net developed environment, Vmware Lab Manager can deploy an exact copy of the entire configuration to the best available resources in a pool of managed servers, running and ready for use. Further, the network fencing technology of Vmware Lab Manager can let multiple users deploy copies of the same library configuration simultaneously, without having to change machine characteristics such as IP addresses, MAC addresses, or security IDs and have normal network access.

    The main benefits of Vmware Lab Manager are,

  • Reduce equipment-related capital and operating expenditures

  • Accelerate integration and system testing

  • Shave time off software development projects

  • Increase the number of configurations a new system supports

  • Enabled for unit and functional testing

  • Reproduce bugs and reduce time spent in the debug phase

  • Reduce the number of latent software defects that slip into production

  • Reduce upgrade breakage

  • Better management of joint resource across teams

    Indirect benefits are,

  • Delivering better product support

  • Easer troubleshooting for customer production problems

  • Improved productivity and efficiency

  • Reduce time finding spare servers

  • No need to hoard servers and storage

  • Save power, space & HVAC

    The technical benefits are,

  • Provision systems quickly.

  • Restore previous configurations.

  • Restore previous sessions “in state.”

  • Quickly make changes to a configuration, possibly via user self-service.

  • Dynamically expand and contract resource allocation

  • Quickly save existing configurations via hot-saving capabilities

  • Schedule usage

  • Recycle system resources for other uses.

    With VI3, systems are handled as single images (i.e., not as an interconnected “set” of systems that comprise a particular multi-tier environment), so there is still a lot of manual configuration required. Further, without Lab Manager’s centralized library of multi-tier systems, organizations run the risk of “VM sprawl” – that is, VMs that are randomly stored on file servers, which are difficult to manage and share effectively.



    The key components in a Lab manager configuration are,

  • Lab Manager Server – A server that provides Web and SOAP interfaces to interact with Lab Manager. The Lab Manager Server system manages and deploys configurations against a pool of Managed Server systems.

  • Lab Manager Managed Server – A server running Vmware ESX Server and the Managed Server software. The Lab Manager Server system uses the Managed Server system to deploy configurations and their virtual machines. You can have multiple Managed Server systems.

  • Lab Manager Storage Server – Storage for virtual machines (for example, an ESX Server SAN or NFS server) and storage for media (CD, DVD, and floppy images). You can have multiple storage servers.

  • Lab Manager Client User – Clients who can use the Lab Manager Web console and the Lab Manager SOAP API. You can access the Lab Manager Web console with Internet Explorer (IE).

    The licensing costs aren't horrendous being approximately £9000 for Lab Manager server and approximately £600 per Lab Manager Managed Server. However don't quote me as they are rough ballpark figures just to give you an idea.

    This software is ideal for any developer or tester that has tried to stuff multiple applications on the same bunch of servers or screwed up servers trying to take them backwards to a previous released version to try and fix a live bug or the tester that wants to try things out without having to hinder anyone and any number of daily pre-production scenarios where you darn well wished you had your own private set of servers to figure stuff out on.

    My last message is to Vmware ... pull yourself together and market this product because it is going to save a lot of good people a lot of hair.

Posted on Sunday, July 13, 2008 9:02 PM Main , Development Technologies , Virtualisation | Back to top

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