Virtual lab automation

Virtual Lab Automation is refers to a category of software solutions to automate IT labs using virtualization technology. Virtual Lab Automation (VLA) solutions are available as on-premise packaged software or as a cloud service.

History

Akimbi pioneered the Virtual Lab Management market with its Slingshot product [cite web | url = http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/05/04/77881_19TCakimbi_1.html
title = Akimbi makes virtual labs real
] . VMware acquired Akimbi in 2006. [cite web | url = http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/software_lifecycle.html
title = VMware Advances Software Lifecycle Management
] VMLogix LabManager [cite web | url = http://www.vmlogix.com/index.php?option=com_events&task=view_detail&agid=13&year=2006&month=11&day=06&Itemid=50
title = VMLogix Launches LabManager in North America to Simplify the Software Development Lifecycle
] was launched in 2006 as well. Skytap introduced the first cloud-based virtual lab automation product in 2008.

Capabilities

A virtual lab automation solution typically includes the following capabilities:

Resource Pooling and Provisioning

Resource pooling enables processing power, storage and networking infrastructure to be shared between different teams and individuals, increasing utilization and availability of resources, and reducing costs. In conjunction with resource pooling, an orchestration and provisioning process allocates and releases resources as needed.

Multi-Machine Configurations

Virtual machine images are the containers that enable operating systems and applications to be isolated from physical resources. A group of virtual images that define a complete system, including network and storage characteristics, is defined as a configuration. For instance, a configuration could consist of multiple Windows Vista client machines, an Oracle database server and a WebSphere application server. Configurations can be easily created by combining virtual machines through a user interface. A configuration is a very useful concept for QA teams because it allows a whole system to be defined and isolated in a test environment. Virtual networking enables copies of the same environment to be run in parallel and the emulation of production environments during the test process.

Configuration Library

A configuration library allows a team to manage and organize virtual images and configurations. Standard builds and images can be created and made available to development and QA teams to save hours of set-up time and environment configuration. Additionally, the library is used to store new configurations that are cloned or created as part of a test.

uspend, Snapshot and Restore

The ability to suspend a complete state of a multi-machine configuration and make a snapshot (a copy at a point in time) is a major benefit of virtualization. This is especially useful for application development teams because when a bug is found a configuration snapshot to be taken at the point of failure and a link to the configuration added to a defect report. Instead of a developer spending hours to reproduce the defect, he or she can restore the configuration and start debugging the issue within minutes.

cheduling and Reservations

Many in-house virtual lab implementations have a fixed pool of resources for teams to share. Scheduling and reservation functionality allows the resolution of resource conflicts and test environments to be reserved ahead of time.

Reporting and Monitoring

Reporting modules allow users and administrators to manage usage and quotas and determine whether the system resources are being used optimally. Monitoring enables the system health to be diagnosed, including CPU utilization, storage performance and network usage.

Automation API

Automating a test lab almost always involves integrating tools and test processes. An automation API enables teams to automatically create test environments as part of the build process and initiate automated test runs once a new build has been deployed. An automation API is typically made available through a web services interface.

Administration and Security

Administration and security features often include user and quota management, project creation, permissions and authentication. Remote access to the system (for instance for an outsourced vendor) is usually managed through secure connections via encrypted protocols and virtual private networking.

Vendors

Virtual lab automation solutions are available as on-premise packaged software or as a cloud service. VMware, Surgient and VMLogix launched in 2006 to provide packaged software solutions. Skytap launched in 2008. [cite web | url = http://weblog.infoworld.com/virtualization/archives/2008/04/skytap_reveals.html
title = Skytap reveals cloud-based services as it enters virtual lab market
] and offers virtual lab automation as a cloud service.

References

External links

* [http://www.skytap.com Skytap]
* [http://www.surgient.com Surgient]
* [http://www.vmlogix.com VMLogix]
* [http://www.vmware.com/products/labmanager/ VMWare Lab Manager]


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