Time for Change: Replacing VMware Lab Manager

In Part 1 of this series, May VMware Lab Manager Rest in Peace, I talked about how VMware has ‘end of lifed’ Lab Manager and will soon no longer support it. Knowing that, if you are using VMware Lab Manager, you may be actively researching your options for replacement. So let’s dive right in.

VMware’s Recommendation – vCloud Director

When VMware announced vCloud DirectorTM, many Lab Manager users expressed confusion, because while vCloud Director had similarities to Lab Manager, it was also missing a number of features that Lab Manager included.

With the latest release of vCloud Director 5.1, most of these missing features have been fulfilled, but there are still benefits and considerations to using vCloud Director as a replacement for Lab Manager.

Benefits in replacing Lab Manager with vCD:

  • You continue with a VMware solution and may do it through purchasing a VMware enterprise license agreement (ELA).
  • Built on the reliability of VMware vSphere.
  • You own it (assuming you run vCD on premise) and can have some level of confidence in that control and security.

Considerations in replacing Lab Manager with vCD:

  • As there are no “Lab Manager to vCloud Director” upgrade tools, it’s likely you will have to build a new virtual infrastructure using the vCloud Suite 5.1 and then migrate individual virtual machines.
  • As vCD is designed to create a private cloud, there’s much more to it than just a replacement for your virtual lab infrastructure. This added complexity can create training issues and management complexities.
  • With the amount of infrastructure, software licensing, and administrative complexity required, the total cost of ownership (TCO) must be analyzed.

I’m certainly not putting down vCloud Director as a product, but as a replacement for Lab Manager, it may not be the simplest path.

Other Options for Lab Manager Replacement

Instead of replacing Lab Manager by building your own private vCloud Director environment, you could also consider vCloud service providers who offer infrastructure cloud solutions. The premiere providers in this area are the vCloud Datacenter Providers. vCloud IaaS offerings run vCloud Director in the public cloud, and thus, they are a valid replacement for Lab Manager.

Many public infrastructure cloud offerings could be a potential replacement for Lab Manager; however, you want to ensure that the solution you choose has a strong feature set. For example, if you are using this solution for virtual training, do they offer options where you can quickly and easily provision new labs? Can an instructor monitor all student screens? Can you make a student’s screen mirror the instructor’s for training? There is a lot to consider, so be sure you are asking all of the right questions to ensure you are choosing the right cloud offering for the job.

Skytap Cloud

When it comes to creating a Lab Manager-like solution in the public cloud, Skytap has a strong offering. In fact, I have used Skytap Cloud myself to build virtual lab environments.

Skytap runs VMware vSphere but offers a unique IaaS cloud management layer with virtual lab features. Administrators, developers, trainers, and those being trained all have access to the Skytap Cloud self-service interface and virtual desktops through a web interface. Now, let’s look at the benefits and considerations to using Skytap Cloud.

Benefits in replacing Lab Manager with Skytap Cloud:

  • Save money on VMware licenses as there is no need to upgrade vSphere, vCenter, or install vCloud Director to the latest version.
  • Eliminate costs associated with maintaining your own physical servers and/or a complex vCloud Director installation.
  • Unique virtual lab and training features such as centralized classroom VM templates, class scheduling, SmartClient, quotas, usage limits, and role-based security.
  • Ability to slowly ramp up and transition usage without having to build a second infrastructure, as you would need to do with vCloud Director.

Considerations in replacing Lab Manager with Skytap Cloud:

  • Dependence on an outside service provider.
  • Risk of trying something new.
  • Cost is based on usage, so the TCO needs to be analyzed.

While existing Lab Manager users may have already considered what it takes to replace Lab Manager with vCloud Director, most admins don’t know what it would take to replace Lab Manager with an IaaS cloud provider, like Skytap Cloud. I’ll outline what you need to know to make the move in my next post. In the meantime …

Have you explored other alternatives to vCloud Director for the Lab Manager EOL? Let me know your thoughts and I will include any additional considerations in the next blog piece in the series.

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