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By | Martin Banks 6th November 2006 06:28

VMWare plays Lab Manager

Virtualisation slashes development times

One of the oft-quoted advantages of virtualisation is the re-use of existing server resources, a capability which need not just apply to servers working in a production environment.

As virtualisation software specialist, VMware, has come realise the same capabilities apply just as well to applications development, which is why it has now come up with Lab Manager, which may be better known to some as Akimbi Slingshot. This is a cut of the virtualisation cake that aims to unbung many of the development bottlenecks caused by resource restrictions.

According to Richard Garsthagen, VMware’s technology marketing manager for EMEA, the system will provide automated self-provisioning of resources to developers. “Defined environments can then be provisioned to whoever needs them within the development and test community, with environments being set up in minutes or at most hours, rather than having to wait days for new servers to be bought and installed,” he said. The environment definitions are maintained in a central library within Lab Manager.

The system uses a shared pool of server, networking and other lab resources in the same way that virtualized production environments use shared datacentre resources. Indeed, it can be possible to mimic production environments, even use the same resources when priorities allow, so that applications can be given valid production-level testing.

Remote working – increasingly common either with home-working developers or fully-fledged development teams in different parts of the world – is also accommodated within Lab Manager. Remote developers can access the same resources online, saving on the need to replicate development environments in different locations.

One small fly in the VMware ointment may come in the form of the now standard issue of licencing problems, particularly with specialist developer tools. If a favourite development tool is not licenced to run in a virtualized environment, or specifically precludes it, there could be some problems. Garsthagen acknowledges the problem but no longer sees it as a major issue. “Some companies may still have to re-configure their licencing,” he said, “but most of the major companies, such as Microsoft, are already up to speed on this issue.”

Lab Manager is already available in beta and when the production code is released at the end of this year prices will start from $15,000. ®

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