App Testing: a Virtual Breeze

Virtualization products that automate and speed software development processes are on the way

Software developers are getting more tools that take advantage of virtualization to streamline the application testing and quality assurance processes.

In advance of its VMworld show Nov. 7-9 in Los Angeles, VMware on Nov. 6 unveiled Lab Manager, designed to enable enterprises to more automatically provision data center resources for application development teams.

For its part, VMLogix on the same day launched its first commercial product, LabManager, which—while not a virtualization platform—enables enterprises to leverage multiple virtualization technologies to make it easier for engineers to create applications.

The moves are the latest in a space that is beginning to get the attention of virtualization vendors, said Stephen Elliot, an analyst with IDC, in Framingham, Mass.

"There are a lot of opportunities to improve the proc--ess efficiency and to really look at how they can be more effective," Elliot said. "Its a similar story to whats going on for the server and storage areas."

Surgient, of Austin, Texas, in October rolled out Virtual Lab Management Applications Version 5.0, which is designed to automate the software testing and development process.

Now VMware, of Palo Alto, Calif., and VMLogix, of Bangalore, India, are throwing their products into the mix. VMwares Lab Manager is designed to address the inefficiencies in software development, said James Phillips, senior director of virtual software life-cycle automation solutions at VMware.

Lab Manager is the result of the acquisition in June by VMware of Akimbi Systems. Phillips was co-founder and CEO of Akimbi. The product allows enterprises to set aside data center resources for application development and testing and quality assurance. It also automates the provisioning of those resources, Phillips said, and enables remote access to software labs.

In addition, Lab Manager can store software configurations and make them available as needed to the development and testing engineers through a Web portal.

The result is faster software development cycles and a lower cost for developing and testing applications, Phillips said. At the same time, the product can speed up and improve the detection of bugs in software, he said. Often, a defect that is found during one part of the process is difficult to reproduce later because of differences in testing environments. With Lab Manager, testing teams can capture the image of the configuration with the bug in a shared library. The configuration then can be made available to another team, making for more and easier fixes.

Lab Manager currently is in beta and will be generally available in December.

With its own LabManager product, VMLogix is looking to enable enterprises to take advantage of multiple virtualization platforms—including VMware and Microsofts Virtual Server now, and in the future the open-source Xen hypervisor—to streamline the software development and testing process.

The software, which is installed on a server, quickly assesses what physical and virtual resources are available and creates a repository of these resources, said Ravi Gururaj, CEO and founder of VMLogix.

Through a VMLogix Web page, engineers and testers can request deployments of whatever physical and virtual resources they need—from the hardware to the operating system to the software stack—and LabManager assembles the resources, Gururaj said.

The product also will capture test scripts in shared repositories for download and upload logs of the testing and development.

Virtualizing Development

* VMwares Lab Manager Enables enterprises to virtualize infrastructure resources for software development, capture and store software configurations, and improve the bug detection process

* VMLogixs LabManager Allows development and test teams to use multiple virtual and physical hardware as well as operating system and software platforms

* Surgients Virtual Lab Management Applications 5.0 offers automated virtual machine capacity planning, configuration and provisioning

Source: eWEEK reporting