Hey, Where Did My Lab Management Software Go?

​Remember the space called VLM? Virtual Lab Management? It was one of the next big things in IT about seven or eight years ago. If you could consolidate servers, desktop PCs, and software in VMs to make your data center way more efficient, why not virtualize all the development and test servers you need in the lab as a VM?

At the time there were several players being tracked in this VLM space. Akimbi (bought by VMware), Surgient, and VMlogix. Where did these VLMs go?

It turns out; all the cloud is a lab.

The news that VMware Lab Manager is finally being unplugged from support was a long time coming. This is not a bad thing for VMware—or the industry. Every enterprise now leverages virtualization infrastructure for efficiency in the data center, including Skytap. But the on-premise model of virtual labs no longer holds up to the development and test needs of today’s highly distributed applications.

What pushed virtual lab management into the cloud?

1. Increased configuration complexity. We’ve moved away from monolithic application stacks configured under one team’s authority and control. Today’s highly decoupled composite apps have workflows that leverage services with data and application components delivered and managed by multiple teams. Bringing all these moving parts into the lab in their correct state, including domain and network settings, involve application setup requiring a lot more effort than spinning up a few server definitions. Now we can even simulate dependencies that are not otherwise available through leading service virtualization providers. Automating these complex configuration activities in Skytap Cloud environments provides a huge boost in productivity and consistency.

2. High demand variability. Conventional server virtualization is great at maximizing efficiency across several VMs when the usage of resources is relatively consistent. But application testing is inherently volatile. You might have a target system sitting idle for weeks, when all of a sudden, several teams spike its capacity with service calls and a huge performance test suite right before release. It is prohibitively expensive to try and reserve all the capacity you’ll ever need without significant sprawl of VMs that sit idle ninety percent of the time. The elasticity of on-demand dev and test labs in the cloud make it far more suited to bursts of activity, and offer significant cost savings during periods of inactivity.

3. Trust in cloud. Slowly, objections about using public cloud have begun to fade away. We’re not hearing nearly as much, “It’s not able to integrate with our process, it’ll never perform well enough, our security policies prohibit using public cloud resources, etc. etc.” Over the last few years, we’ve come to trust substituting SaaS-based applications for core in-house business functions like CRM, HR automation, supplier trading, performance metrics, and more. In our daily lives we have become comfortable with cloud-based apps for linking our devices, data storage, entertainment, travel, and other transactions. We’ve come to expect better bandwidth, security, and scalability from cloud infrastructure, and the greater ease of collaboration across distributed teams—all of which make development and test activities ideally suited for cloud.

At Skytap, we were here with cloud-based lab management from the beginning. Early adopters of this approach were often software companies that built applications in the cloud and for the cloud. But the past few years have proven that public cloud resources are ideally suited to handle enterprise-class development and test labs. If enterprises weren’t quite ready to move dev and test to the cloud then, they’re definitely ready now.

Look for more perspectives on this change, and learn best practices for moving from on-premise labs to cloud-based dev and test labs. Register now for our upcoming free webinar, “Preparing for VMware Lab Manager End of Life,” hosted by Seth Payne on May 28th, at 10 AM PDT / 1 PM EDT.

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