Islands of Infrastructure

As software applications become increasingly more critical to successful business operations, application complexity has exploded. This has placed a tremendous burden on organizations and the teams responsible for developing or using applications to deliver business value. These organizations, whose business processes make up the broad application delivery lifecycle, struggle to create and maintain the necessary infrastructure to support software development, testing, training, sales, marketing and technical support.

As much as 50% of the time required to deliver application technologies to the enterprise is spent in provisioning and configuring equipment to support these processes. The activities in each pre-production and post-production phase of the application delivery lifecycle require a mirror of the production environment where the software is ultimately used. The result is islands of infrastructure scattered throughout organizations and each group competing with others for more of these scarce, necessary resources. The costs to an enterprise can be substantial – both in equipment and management costs – since a typical organization has between two and five times as much computer equipment supporting pre- and post-production activities as they have in their data center environments.

Consolidation with Virtualization

Enterprise operations groups have seen tremendous successes recently using virtual infrastructure technologies to reduce application sprawl, decrease management costs and improve hardware utilization in the production data center environment. As a next step in the evolution of virtualization technology, companies are evaluating virtualization technologies to consolidate the islands of infrastructure used in pre- and post-production processes. There are, however, significant differences in how virtualization can be used at each stage of the application delivery lifecycle.

The data center environment, for example, is usually locked down and highly secure. Equipment tends to be purchased for specific uses and so is homogeneous to reduce management costs. Tools used in the data center environment are designed to produce a consistent, stable and secure application infrastructure that will run 24×7 without interruption. Pre- and post-production infrastructures, however, are different in that they are used intermittently. Many more employees and often non-employees need access to these resources, which tend to be more varied and heterogeneous. So while virtualization might provide a solution for consolidating pre- and post-production infrastructures, the tools developed to make it successful in the production data center don’t necessarily work in these other areas of the application delivery lifecycle.

Virtual Labs: A Shared Approach

Virtual lab management provides an approach that is designed specifically to leverage virtualization technology for creating the varied software configurations necessary to support pre- and post-production activities. Virtual labs enable heterogeneous infrastructures to be effectively consolidated and support shared use with tools that are tuned to the specific processes and distributed teams involved in delivering quality software to the enterprise. Virtual lab applications harness the power of virtualization to support the roles and responsibilities of software development and testing organizations, technical training organizations, and sales and marketing organizations. Virtual lab applications enable these teams to make the best use of virtual infrastructure and make it possible for a consolidated, shared pool of infrastructure to meet the needs of diverse business groups and usage models.


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