VMware, VMLogix Court Software Developers

The vendors' products aim to let development and test teams leverage virtualization to streamline the process.

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 2006 show in Los Angeles, VMware on Nov. 6 is introducing Lab Manager, a product designed to enable enterprises to automatically provision data center resources to application development teams.

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

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

"There are a lot of opportunities to improve the process 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 offers greater support for heterogeneous virtualized environments and a new management console. The technology is designed to automate the software testing and development process.

Now VMware and VMLogix 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 lifecycle automation solutions for VMware.

"With this system, the goal is to … offload all that manual provisioning of [data center resources by] the application development team," Phillips said.

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Lab Manager is the result of the acquisition in June by VMware, of Palo Alto, Calif., of Akimbi Systems, of which Phillips was co-founder and CEO.

The product lets enterprises set aside data center resources for application development and testing and quality assurance purposes, and automates the provisioning of those resources, Phillips said. It also allows for 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 and 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.

VMware not only is addressing a segment of the industry that is in need of improved efficiency, but also is looking to extend the reach of its virtualization technology, said IDCs Elliot.

With its own LabManager product, VMLogix, of Bangalore, India, is looking to enable enterprises to take advantage of the 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 as 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.

"This is an end-to-end, holistic view of the entire lifecycle," Gururaj said. "[Developers and testers] really want something thats a solution, not something that just a product."

Offerings like LabManager are particularly important given the heterogeneous nature of data centers, in both their physical and virtual environments, he said.

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