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Software Testing Gets Virtualized

Virtualization company VMware and Borland Software, an application lifecycle management (ALM) specialist company, are teaming up to combine virtualization technologies with software testing tools. Borland plans to deliver native support for virtual lab environments by integrating its SilkCentral Test Manager with the latest release of VMware's Lab Manager.

The two companies are working together to make it possible to call Lab Manager environments directly from SilkCentral, explained James Phillips, who cofounded Akimbi and now serves as senior director of virtual software in VMware's lifecycle automation solutions group. Lab Manager is based on technology from Akimbi systems, which VMware acquired last year.

The integration of the two products will allow users of Borland's product to run tests on many different configurations or platforms.

"We've been talking about this vision for Lab Manager since we founded Akimbi in 2004," Phillips said. "Seeing Borland invest their engineering resources and make the decision to build this into their product warms my heart. This a company that sees the impact that virtualization technology is going to have on the software lifecycle, and they want to be ahead of the curve."

Virtualization is not a new technology. Data centers have used it in operations management for years. VMware developed the first hypervisor for the x86 architecture in the 1990s, planting the seeds for the current virtualization boom. Since then, market forces and technological advances have driven virtualization into widespread mainstream use. It's now poised, observed Theresa Lanowitz, founder of analyst firm Voke, to become "the defining technology of the 21st century." Organizations of every size will benefit from virtualization as a part of its core infrastructure, she says.

"Virtual lab automation is a rare, real, breakthrough use of technology revolutionizing the computing industry and the enterprise," Lanowitz said. "…VMware's announcement of Lab Manager 2.5 provides important updates to the technology as well as showing VMware's commitment to fostering its partner community."

The integration of SilkCentral and Lab Manager, the companies say, addresses a critical challenge that development and quality assurance teams face today: the inability to fully test applications across multiple configurations and platforms because of the time and cost constraints of maintaining many separate, physical test labs.

A lack of available systems and infrastructure resources on which to run tests creates a bottleneck in the process, explained IDC analyst Melinda-Carol Ballou in an announcement issued by the companies. Groups within an enterprise with access to those resources tend to hoard them and share them sporadically or ineffectively, she added. Another significant barrier is the need to create and manage complex systems configurations on which to run the tests. Virtual test lab management helps to lessen, and even eliminate, these kinds of barriers, Ballou stated, by providing a platform on which to manage and run test management solutions, scripts and tests.

SilkCentral is Borland's flagship test automation tool. It's based on technologies from Segue Software, which Borland acquired last April. SilkCentral is also a core component of Borland's Lifecycle Quality Management (LQM) solution. LQM was launched last October and was billed as the first integrated ALM product suite to link business requirements with code and testing priorities and activities in an automated and traceable way. This connection, the company says, helps to break down barriers between business, development and quality assurance teams.

VMware unveiled its Lab Manager 2.5 solution on the same day as the partnership announcement. The product is designed to enable users to automate the setup, capture, storage and sharing of multi-machine software configurations.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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