Thursday, November 27, 2008

Will the real slim shady please stand up? ... (VMWare Lab Manager vs Microsoft Team Lab)

I've been nagging myself for awhile about why I felt that the offerings of Team Lab felt so familiar and I just remembered why.

Sometime around spring 2007 I had a peek at a product called "VMWare Lab Manager" to see if we could benefit from it when virtualizing our test lab environements, when never ended up going down that road but it had more to do with the fact the we didn't have the energy to introduce yet another product at that time.

Guess what though the products are extremly similar just take a look at one of the key goals with Lab Manager:

Capture and Reproduce Software Defects—Every Time
Enable developers and testers to quickly reproduce software defects and resolve them earlier in the software lifecycle—and ensure higher quality software and systems. VMware Lab Manager enables “closed loop” defect reporting and resolution through its unique ability to “snapshot” complex multi-machine configurations in an error state, capture them to the library, and make them available for sharing—and troubleshooting—across development and test teams.

I do believe that Microsoft have been heavily influenced by Lab Manager when designing their Team Lab SKU of Team System, as you can see in the architectural overview of Lab Manager below you get pretty much the same offerings in both products.

One thing that bugs me though is the fact that neither Micrsoft nor VMWare has put the effort into integrating Lab Manager with TFS which has been done with other ALM suites:
Integrate with Leading Test Management Tools
Enable users to access VMware Lab Manager seamlessly from within their preferred test management tools. Off-the-shelf integrations with Borland SilkCentral Test Manager and HP Quality Center allow users simply to select the desired multi-tier configuration and Lab Manager will do the rest — automatically provision the test environment, tear down the environment after a test is run, and capture the state of the application, test date and virtual machine configuration in the event of a failed test.

Maybe this is something for the TFS community to produce? I'm intressted if someone can provide a enviroment for testing with licenses for the VMWare stuff since I don't have access to them myself (if you are intressted in a codeplex project about this let me know).

So why am I writing this post? Well since the idea about eliminating the dreadful no-repro or it-works-on-my-machine scenario appeals to me, I wanted to make sure that people are aware of the fact that VMWare has an offering in this area as well. Also the fact that you don't have to wait until VSTS 2010 hits the streets is a big plus.

Another good thing is since Team Lab is going to work with both VMWare and Hyper-V virtualization any effort you put into working with Lab Manager today will easily migrate to Team Lab in the future. There is one drawback with the Team Lab SKU as it looks today compared to Lab Manager and that is the fact that it is very integrated with the new test client (codenamed "Cameo") and as far as I have seen there are no web based management for the Team Lab stuff (yet at least), personally I believe it should be split from the test management since in my experience it is not the testers that provision the lab environments.


  1. Hi Peter,
    Have you had the chance to look at VMLogix LabManager? It is a competing product in this space and works across Citrix, Microsoft and VMware platforms. You will find a comparison of the product with VMware Lab Manager on our home page.

    We blog about virtualization, software engineering and testing at Would love to hear your comments and thoughts there!


    Srihari Palangala

  2. Hi Srihari,

    No I wasn't aware of your product but I'll have a look at it. Thanks for the tip.


  3. First off..i gotta say great post..I can feel you put in great effort in it...and well I can relate to ---when you said that they have not put the effort into integrating Lab Manager with TFS which has been done with other ALM suites----i know that can be a problem...from my own experience...I myself cannot understand why there was no effort put into that..cause that would have made my life a lot easier... :)

  4. Glad you liked the post Erik, I'm gonna try to keep an eye on the developments in this area since we are working heavily with test lab automation at my workplace and we need to get more efficient. I'll post my thoughts and experiences in the area as the come.