VMware, Inc. made virtual test automation suite Lab Manager 2.5 generally available today, with integration to two popular test automation suites: Borland SilkCentral Test Manager and Hewlett-Packard Quality Center, formerly from Mercury Interactive.
With Lab Manager 2.5, VMware also announced a free ROI calculator, support for iSCSI and network attached storage (NAS), 64-bit guests, and Solaris 10 and Microsoft Vista guest operating systems. Lab Manager is available for VMware Server and Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3) ESX environments.
Lab Manager 2.5 is the first major release of the product since VMware acquired it from Akimbi last summer. The previous release, Lab Manager 2.4, included support for ESX, and VMware branding.
Integrating with test lab automation suites
Integration with test automation software has been somewhat of a theme as of late among virtual test lab management vendors. Last month, Austin, Tex. Surgient, Inc announced HP as a reseller of its Surgient Virtual QA/Test Lab Management System (VQMS) for HP Quality Center. Also last month, Boston, Mass VMLogix, Inc. announced support for IBM Rational Build Forge as part of its LabManager product.
VMware's integration with HP Quality Center comes by way of a third-party plug-in from Genilogix, a VMware and HP Quality Center reseller. Integration with Borland Silk Central is being developed by Borland itself, and will be available in a future release.
The goal of integrating a virtual test automation suite with software development tools is "to make developers unaware whether they are on a physical or virtual machine," said Mark Angelo, VMLogix director of business development.
According to Angelo, the test and development world is dominated by two automation suites: IBM Rational Build Forge and HP Quality Center. Angelo said we have begun to see the formation of two camps: IBM Rational with VMLogix, and HP Quality Center with Surgient.
Even though the relationship is strong on other fronts, with Akimbi under its wing, "VMware hasn't engaged in any where near the same level with IBM [Rational]."
But James Phillips, VMware senior director of virtualization software lifecycle automation solutions, bristled at that suggestion that its Lab Manager was out of the IBM Rational or HP Quality Center loop. "IBM is one of the top tier partners that VMware goes to market with," Phillips said, while HP "is the second largest reseller or VMware Lab Manager – that relationship is second to only one [other vendor]," which Phillips declined to name.
Who's building virtual test labs?
VMware did not disclose how many customers it has for Lab Manager, but said they represented 35 distinct industries worldwide.
Meanwhile, it appears that the target market for virtual test automation is coming from enterprise software developers, rather than from independent software vendors (ISVs). Citing research from market research firm Evans Data Corp., Phillips said that there are almost two million enterprise-focused developers: 1.2 million working in the enterprise itself, and another 760,000 working for systems integrators. Developers working for ISVs only number about 500,000. Thus, the number of enterprise-focused developers outnumbers developers working for ISVs by almost four to one.
Going forward, VMware could go down two product development paths with Lab Manager: new features, or support for a "broader platform spectrum," namely, Xen or Microsoft virtualization offerings. Phillips suggested VMware was leaning toward the former.
"We have considered in the past whether or not we want Lab Manager to act on other virtual infrastructure like it does on VMware technology," Phillips said. As it stands, "the market for VMware is huge," and "there's not enough demand for other platform support."
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