Last week I had the chance to meet Shay Mandel from Microsoft India. Shay is a program manager on the lab management team. Lab management was declared during the the PDC. In this posts I will try and give a small review of this product, so if you heard about it, you might learn more and if you did not this can be a good reference for you to understand what it is all about.
What is a Lab?
A lab consists of at least one machine and potentially can reach up to 2,3,4 or even 100. Each machine configuration can vary, where on one machine you will have windows XP and IE 8.0 and on second machine you will have windows 2003 installed with IIS 6.0.
When you build your application, you want to think about scalability. You may want your application to be 2 tier application, the application server on one tier and the database on the second tier. In order to simulate this you will need to create a lab that consists on these two machines and on each machine you will want to install your application components.
What is Lab Management?
So, as the name implies it is a tool that allows you to manage labs. It allows us to define a configuration that is combined set of machines. This configuration allows us to add machine, remove machine and so on and so forth. The Lab Management is built on top of a Hyper V machine that support virtualization, thus these labs are actually virtual machines.
Lab Machine & ALM
The lab management is fully integrated into the development cycle. The connectivity to the Team Server is one of the key features. For example,have you ever heard the following sentence when a bug raises:
"On my computer it never happens!"
This is because it is true…It never happens or at least you find it very hard to reproduce. Lab management allows you to create a checkpoint and attach it to a bug work item. The developer can later on open the bug and load the checkpoint. Once he does that, he is now able to view the state of the machine when that bug occurred. This is great!
Another example is that you can have your automatic build deploy a new build to the lab and the testers can start examine the new build and perform build quality operations.
What is next?
Lab management is a new product from MS that is due to be released with visual studio 2010. However, if you are technology freak like I am, you will be able to start playing with it in about 3 month when Beta 1 will be release. This is not an official date, this is only an my estimation.
Do you have a testing environment?
How do you manage your test environment?
How many test environments do you have?