In honor of the season, we thought we’d launch the first in a four-part series on the topic of Lab Manager replacement. We’ve invited guest blogger and VMware expert, David Davis, to share his thoughts on the product’s pending end of life.

To quote David, “It’s a scary time to be a Lab Manager user.”

VMware’s vCenter Lab Manager is a popular product used by many companies that need to offer hundreds or even thousands of virtual desktop systems in development and testing, QA, training, and other virtual lab scenarios. One example that comes to mind is a well-known certification testing company in the U.S. that uses Lab Manager to deliver certification testing via virtual desktops.

There are many large companies successfully using Lab Manager. But many of these companies are looking to make a change. Let’s review why that is.

VMware Lab Manager EOL

In February of 2011, VMware announced that they had stopped developing Lab Manager. In addition, as of May 1, 2013, VMware will no longer be supporting Lab Manager. With an end of development and support, this puts VMware Lab Manager in the End of Life (EOL) category.

Any company using virtual desktop systems has a lot riding on its Lab Manager environment. But if you’re using Lab Manager after the EOL, there will be no enhancements; fewer patches being released (if any); and no support for the Lab Manager product. In short, it’s a scary time to be a Lab Manager user.

VMware is offering vCloud Director as a replacement for Lab Manager, but the two products aren’t quite the same (we’ll talk about that later in the series).

Power and Utility: Lab Manager Will Be Missed

Core functionality of Lab Manager includes:

  • Rapid provisioning of new virtual machines based on template images
  • An image library of virtual machines
  • Self-service capabilities for users and groups who have access to the lab environment
  • The ability to automate set-up and tear-down of lab environments containing multiple virtual machines

These Lab Manager features are ideal for groups of developers, QA testing, training companies, and other virtual lab scenarios.

Clearly, Lab Manager has been powerful and useful to many companies, but there are some things to consider. For example, VMware vCenter Lab Manager only runs on top of VMware vSphere 4, and it’s incompatible with vSphere 5 and the newly released vSphere 5.1.

When looking for alternatives, it’s also important to note that Lab Manager isn’t the same thing as VMware View. While View does offer templates and rapid provisioning, it lacks self-service and doesn’t allow developers, for example, to control their own lab environment. Instead, View is used to provide a single virtual desktop to an end user.

Top 5 Reasons to Start Looking for a Lab Manager Replacement

  1. Action required – No one enjoys using technology that is dead. With Lab Manager, the clock is ticking. Sooner or later, you have to do something about it.
  2. New features – You don’t want to use a product that will never offer new features or added functionality. Get on track to grow your functionality and get more done.
  3. Hypervisor upgrades – As I noted earlier, Lab Manager only runs on vSphere 4. Eventually, you will need to upgrade. Don’t let your lab environment keep you from upgrading your hypervisor.
  4. Support deadline – As of May 1, 2013, VMware will no longer help you if you have a support issue. It’s hard to rely on a product if you can’t get help when you need it.
  5. Advancing technology – There have been many advancements in technology since Lab Manager was released. Today’s solutions are more efficient and can make your life, as an admin or developer, much easier.

Where to Turn?

In part 2 of this series, we’ll explore multiple options you may want to consider as your replacement for VMware Lab Manager.

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