In my first post of this series I discussed how important it is to replace the deprecated VMware Lab Manager with a new solution. This is especially true with Lab Manager support ending on May 1, 2013. In my second post, I talked about the various options available to you as a replacement. One of those options was the Skytap infrastructure cloud.

For those unfamiliar with the benefit of Skytap Cloud, the following are the reasons I would recommend it:

  • Eliminates the need to pay for datacenter infrastructure
  • Saves money on licenses
  • Allows users to take advantage of built-in training features
  • Saves the trouble of having to implement your own private cloud

Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that you have decided to replace VMware Lab Manager with Skytap Cloud. How would you do it? Let’s cover what you would need to know and the steps you would take.

Considerations for Replacing Lab Manager with Skytap Cloud

When considering moving from Lab Manager to Skytap Cloud, the extent of your concern may vary with the size of your current Lab Manager implementation. For example, if you have thousands of virtual machines in Lab Manager, you will obviously need to take much more time in your planning than if you had just 100 low priority Lab Manager VMs.

In addition to the scope of your implementation, here are some other considerations:

Decision maker Buy-in The thought of using “the cloud” can be scary to those who aren’t familiar with how it really works. Gaining confident buy-in from executives and decision makers is crucial, but in some cases, it should be done delicately and presented with a thorough amount of research.

Involvement of App Owners and Users Involving and gaining acceptance of the cloud by the application owners (development managers, training managers, QA leads) is important to the success of any change. Involving and gaining feedback from key users early in the project will also give you a better chance of success.

Proof of Concept To present to these decision makers, app owners, and users, you’ll want to build a proof of concept, showing your applications running in the cloud. For initial learning, testing, or a quick proof of concept, Skytap offers a free trial.

Measuring Usage As the cost of the Skytap infrastructure cloud is based on usage, to help estimate the cost, you should measure your concurrent number of virtual machines in use and the resources that those virtual machines consume in terms of the number of virtual CPUs, virtual memory, and disk space consumed.

Virtual Infrastructure Features No matter the type of infrastructure you choose, you want to make sure that the features are available to provide what you need to replace Lab Manager. For example, the ability to clone one (or multiple) virtual machines in seconds, create VM templates, quickly allow remote access to virtual machine consoles over the web, and more.

Moving from Lab Manager to Skytap Cloud

As part of any plan to make this move, you should have some idea of what a rough migration plan would look like. Certainly, every company’s plan will be different based on the scope of their implementation, frequency of use, and number of virtual machines.

To help you start building a migration plan, here are the general steps that previous Lab Manager users have taken who have moved to Skytap Cloud:

  1. Survey your current Lab Manager environment including number of users, number of VM templates in use, concurrent VMs, and resources used by those VMs.
  2. Select a Lab Manager VM template that you want to test in Skytap Cloud. Deploy the virtual machine in Lab Manager but leave it powered off. Use VMware Converter to convert the VM to a VMware Workstation VM.
  3. Use the Skytap Import Tool and follow the steps to create an import job.
  4. Note: Skytap supports uploading your VMs in the native VMware format (VMX and VMDKs files) zipped up as a 7Zip. Uploads in the open OVA/OVF formats are also supported. You can upload the VM over FTP to Skytap. Once the upload is done, you can create a template out of it.

    Once your VM upload is complete, a new virtual machine will be created for you.

  5. Power it on and you are running your Lab Manager VM in Skytap Cloud.
  6. Once tested, more Lab Manager virtual machines can be imported through the same process.
  7. The imported and tested virtual machine can be turned into a Skytap template so that you can deploy it at any time, in seconds, to virtual lab users.

Skytap configurations are a group of one or more virtual machines. Skytap templates are stored templates (just like in vSphere) of configurations. Thus, there could be multiple virtual machines in a single configuration, stored in a template.

Once you’ve tested your Lab Manager virtual machines in Skytap Cloud, you can offer a proof of concept to the decision makers in your company, demonstrating how Skytap Cloud is a strong option to replace Lab Manager.


Next week: In the fourth installment of my series, I’ll talk about how you can use a hybrid cloud to create an automated dev/test environment.

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