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Understanding Lifecycle Virtualization

"Lifecycle virtualization fundamentally transforms the lifecycle and eliminates many of the common challenges faced by development and test teams…. [It] and its associated technologies assist development, test, and operations teams in cutting the Gordian Knot of schedule, cost, and quality."

That's a piece of the provocative opening statement of a new "category snapshot" report by industry analysts Theresa Lanowitz and Lisa Dronzek. Lanowitz and Dronzek are founder and co-founder respectively of market research firm voke, inc., which focuses on cutting-edge tech and emerging trends that affect enterprises, technology vendors, venture capitalist and financial analysts.

I've been following the virtualization market since it was... well... rediscovered by Stanford prof Mendel Rosenblum, who co-founded VMware with his wife, Diane Green, Stanford grad students Edouard Gugnion and Scott Devine, and Berkeley engineer Edward Wang back in 1998. The value of server virtualization was clear to everyone almost immediately -- it stemmed server sprawl and cut enterprise energy consumption (often dramatically). It wasn't long before companies were virtualizing everything from the desktop to the network. But lifecycle virtualization was a new one on me. The app lifecycle is now pretty well understood; there's a requirements phase, followed by an architecting phase, then coding, testing, tracking, release and maintenance (or some slight variation thereof). But how do you virtualize all that?

You do it, Lanowitz told me, with a combination of existing and often complementary solutions: virtual lab management, virtualized cloud platforms, service virtualization, defect virtualization (virtualized defect identification and/or reproduction) and device virtualization (the management of physical and virtual test devices). The trick here is to recognize that they're providing parts of a larger machine. It's a big-picture idea that Lanowitz sees as potentially transformative.

"There are all these solutions and tools out there that are serving only small portions of the market right now," Lanowitz said. "But if you put them all together on top of the application lifecycle management application you're using, you have this thing we're calling lifecycle virtualization."

No single vendor currently offers a unified Virtual ALM solution right now, though something like that is probably on the horizon, Lanowitz predicts. In the meantime, she offers a list of vendors and typically compatible products that provide key the pieces of this model:

Virtual Lab Management (VLM)
•         CA Technologies CA 3TeraAppLogic
•         Citrix XenClient
•         Citrix XenServer
•         Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional 2010
•         Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 with MSDN
•         Wind River Test Manager

Virtualized Cloud Platforms
•         Citrix CloudPortal
•         Citrix CloudStack
•         Electric Cloud Electric Commander
•         Skytap Cloud
•         VMWare vCloud Director

Service Virtualization
•         ITKO (CA) LISA
•         HP Service Virtualization
•         Parasoft Virtualize

Defect Virtualization
•         ITKO(CA) LISA
•         Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional 2010
•         Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 with MSDN
•         Parasoft Virtualize
•         Replay Solutions ReplayDIRECTOR

Device Virtualization
•         Wind River Simics

"Lifecycle virtualization solves a lot of those big, classic problems that people have been struggling with for a long time," Lanowitz said. "It essentially eliminates these time-consuming tedious and manual activities, and frees them to do other more productive things."

Lanowitz and Dronzek expect lifecycle virtualization to become "the hub of the modern lifecycle" that will "shatter silos across development, QA, and operations." They see it as a major disruptor that will break bottlenecks in the lifecycle. And they expect to see widespread adoption across all industry sectors by the middle of 2013.

The complete voke Category Snapshot report on Lifecycle Virtualization is available now to voke's annual research subscribers.

Posted by John K. Waters on December 2, 2011