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Cooking in The Virtual Lab With VMware

VMware formally entered the market for virtual lifecycle management today, unveiling Lab Manager at its VMWorld user conference in Los Angeles.

Lab Manager, which comes from assets VMware acquired through it purchase of Akimbi Systems, takes a pool of servers running VMware Infrastructure software, sits in front of them and provides a self-service interface.

Developers and professionals can log in to this portal and request any configuration they need from a library of multi-machine configurations, said James Phillips, senior director of virtual software lifecycle automation at VMware.

The choice will then be deployed to the pool of servers, and the developer can determine whether or not a virtualization server will work if deployed.

Testing and troubleshooting applications are a big deal for vendors these days.

Getting the right configuration in a complex data center environment can shave months off the time programmers spend on manual system setup and resource provisioning, which in turn saves an IT shop costs.

This is no less important for virtualization, in which several instances of an application or operating system can run one physical machine.

Lab Manager does other tricks.

To counter inefficient bug reproduction, Phillips said Lab Manager provides "closed-loop" defect reporting, troubleshooting and resolution, taking snapshots of virtual servers bringing them to a shared library and assigning them a LiveLink URL that engineers can enter into a bug report.

A developer then can click on the LiveLink URL to access the virtual server in the precise state captured by the engineers and fix the bug.

VMware Lab Manager also provides secure access to a remote software lab that can host remote developer desktops and provide remote access to shared configurations, curbing the time-consuming and expensive replication of equipment in offshore or partner labs.

The public beta of VMware Lab Manager is available for download now, but the finished software will be generally available next month.

VMware Lab Manager Server will start at $15,000 as a standalone product, and starts at $35,000 when bundled with VMware Infrastructure 3.

Like the application lifecycle management peddled by IBM, Borland and Microsoft, virtual lifecycle management is catching on, triggered first by startups like Surgient and VMLogix.

VMware's buy and subsequent absorption of Akimbi could open the floodgates to acquisitions by other larger vendors with an appetite for improving virtual server management.

Other startups include Surgient and VMLogix, which recently announced a $3.5 million booster shot of venture capital from Bain Capital Ventures. Interestingly, VMLogix' flagship product is also called LabManager.