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Guest Virtual Machine Automation in Virtual Labs

Guest Virtual Machine Automation in Virtual Labs - A contributed article from Srihari Palangala, Director of Product Marketing at VMLogix

1.  Virtual Labs: The End User Perspective

Virtual labs allow IT administrators to pool together lab resources for end user access under a secure and centralized setup. Some examples of end users who would benefit from virtual labs are -- the software engineers (dev/test), the customer support staff, the team conducting customer/internal training and the technical sales personnel conducting software demonstrations. Users of virtual labs expect a self serve environment monitored by user policies and quotas and driven by automation. The ability to collaborate in teams and get on demand access to multi-machine configurations makes the virtual lab exciting for end users.

2.  The Second Order of Automation: Guest Virtual Machine Operations

The industry today largely recognizes "automation" in virtual labs at the first order level – i.e., the ability to spawn, deploy and access multi-virtual machine configurations with little or no manual intervention required. Guest virtual machine (VM) automation (like that available in VMLogix LabManager) takes the automation capabilities to the second order. With this, end users can automate operations within each of the guest virtual machines in a multi machine configuration. 

VMLogix LabManager offers a set of guest VM automation operations ‘out of the box’. For example, these guest VM automation operations can be used to install software, run user scripts, set synchronization points between multiple VMs, set up shared folders (e.g., to copy binary artefacts from), set/clear environment variables, execute commands on the guest VM, mount ISO images, reboot the guest machine, upload files from guest machine to the LabManager server, snapshot/revert the VM and capture the guest VM into the template library.



         Figure 1: In this case, 5 operations have been set to run on the guest VM role named "DomainMmbr"

In addition to this powerful library of role operations, power users have the option of building custom operations as well.

An example video showing this second order of automation can be found here.


3. An Example Use Case for the Advanced Automation

If your development/test teams are working in an agile environment with continuous integration (CI), here is how the guest VM automation capabilities will help:

  • A CI build is scheduled to run, and no VM template is available to match the software stack required (the specific OS, database, browser, version of JDK, app server etc.). VMLogix LabManager with its guest VM automation can be used to customize a base VM (the customized VM can also be automatically saved away as a template for future reuse)
  • Once the environment is ready, LabManager can be used to run a user script on the guest VM. The script can perform actions like triggering and executing the test runs and passing artefacts like test results back to the CI server
  • Once the CI run is completed, the configuration can be un-deployed thus freeing up resources 

Note that all three steps above can be conducted in a fully automated manner. With traditional virtual lab software, this is difficult if not impossible to do. Several customers of VMLogix have used this advanced capability to improve their software quality and end user productivity and have accelerated the software engineering time.

VMLogix is offering a hassle free evaluation of their LabManager product – which can be downloaded here.

About the Author

Srihari Palangala is the Director of Product Marketing at VMLogix. Previously, he worked at Microsoft as a business analyst and a program manager. Prior to Microsoft, Srihari was a technical director at OPNET Technologies and a research associate at Arizona State University. He received his MBA from The Indian School of Business and his MS in computer science from Arizona State University.

Published Thursday, April 09, 2009 7:38 AM by David Marshall
Guest Post on « Virtual Lab Automation Blog - (Author's Link) - April 10, 2009 5:09 AM
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