Skytap and the test lab in the clouds

Summary:Several companies in the virtualization software club have focused on using some combination of virtual machine software, virtual access software and management software for virtual environments to make development and testing easier and more productive.

Several companies in the virtualization software club have focused on using some combination of virtual machine software, virtual access software and management software for virtual environments to make development and testing easier and more productive. Since most organizations having industry standard system configurations are only using a fraction of the available processing power in their network, companies such as Cassatt, Racemi, Scalent Systems, Surgient, and VMLogix have long been showing companies how to recover unused system resources and then use them both for production and testing. I recently spoke with Scott Roza, CEO of Skytap, about a different approach to the same problem, one in which the testing software, the testing resources and the administrative staff that managed those resources would live in the clouds rather than in the organization's own datacenter.

Here's how the company introduces Skytap Virtual Lab

Skytap, formerly known as illumita, is announcing the availability of a virtual lab solution available as an on-demand service over the Web, called Skytap Virtual Lab.

Skytap Virtual Lab will revolutionize the way companies use virtualization technology because it combines the SaaS delivery model with solutions that utilize virtualized infrastructure, offering companies a solution that delivers value quickly, can scale to their business needs and doesn't have the risk or the cost associated with an in-house implementation.

Here's how they explain what it does

Skytap Virtual Lab is a cloud-based service that can be accessed from any location using only a Web browser. Skytap Virtual Lab includes three major components:

  • Virtualized infrastructure, including hardware, storage and networking resources;
  • A virtual lab management application;
  • The Skytap Library.

How Skytap Virtual Lab Works

Skytap Virtual Lab includes a complete virtual lab automation application to configure environments and upload test assets, set up and tear down lab environments, and manage projects through a Web interface. Deployed machines are accessed through a secure, Web-based console.

Skytap’s pool of virtualized infrastructure allows QA teams to scale up and down test resources as they need them. Lab configurations can be deployed into a virtual lab with just the click of a button and easily shared to enable multiple team members to access a lab.

The Skytap Library includes pre-built virtual machine images of major operating systems, databases, applications and test tools. This eliminates the need for IT personnel to install baseline images of commonly used software when creating test environments, saving hours of manual set-up time. In addition to prebuilt images, virtual images and assets can be uploaded to the Skytap Virtual Lab environment.

Snapshot analysis

It appears that the good folks at Skytap believe that the IT staff of medium sized organizations and departments of larger organizations face the same issues of regression testing of product updates, patches and the like that large scale IT organizations do but, don't have the physical resources, administrative staff for those resources nor the will to fight the political battles to obtain them. Furthermore, Skytap believes that it will be far easier for these IT folks to simply order and then use external resources rather than trying to claim unused resources sitting out on the corporate network. Depending upon the organization in question, Skytap's views on development and testing just may be right.

While the other suppliers are trying to engage the organizations IT department and help them understand the benefits of moving from silos of computing to a pool of computing resources, Skytap is taking its message directly to the end-user organizations and attempting to sidestep the whole political thing.

It's not to hard to imagine the next step for Skytap. It's clear that they're trying to take a page out of's play book. Once these end-user organizations have seen the performance of running their applications in the cloud, they may just choose to leave them there once they're ready for production.

Its a clever move and it just may work. I'd suggest watching Skytap to see how they first convince end-user organizations how important testing is and how it can reduce IT-based problems and then move those same folks into seeing how valuable cloud computing can be.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Virtualization


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He is responsible for research, publications, and operations. Mr. Kusnetzky has been involved with information technology since the late 1970s. Mr. Kusnetzky has been responsible for research operations at the 451 Group; corporate and... Full Bio

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