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A Developer's Eye View of Virtual Machines : Page 3

Virtualization technology allows developers to create multiple virtual testing and development environments on a single physical machine. The cost-saving implications are just the beginning of the story.


Beyond Isolated Sandboxing and Testing

As the market grows, the ways in which developers use virtualization itself are expanding. The traditional development and testing uses of virtual machines as local disposable sandboxes and solutions for application isolation are broadening. Sharing development tasks across large teams in disparate locations appears to be the next step.

Armstrong has witnessed the trend among users of Microsoft's Virtual Server product. "People are developing n-tier systems with server backends, where normally you would've had three or four servers dedicated to replicating this environment. Now they can have a single server, create their development servers inside a virtual machine, and greatly reduce the amount of hardware they need to develop in that environment."

Dan Chu 
James Phillips, Akimbi Systems CEO

Examples of virtualization in these large-scale development environments are abundant. The virtual lab management system Akimbi Slingshot is one such solution. "We hear frequently from customers [that] IT owns all the servers and they're responsible for responding to developer and QA requests to set up a certain configuration," explained Akimbi Systems CEO James Phillips. "With our system, the application development and test organizations can, in effect, self-serve."

Aimed at software development in test organizations, Slingshot captures multi-machine configurations as VM images in a storage library and then, by taking under management any server pool running VMware's and/or Microsoft Virtual Server 2005's virtual machine monitoring technology, lets developers deploy and manipulate those configurations as if IT had configured the systems for them.

According to Chu, an international bank is using VMware's ESX Server to run 500 WebSphere instances for its developers, enabling them to simulate very large-scale development, test, and staging environments for their internal financial and business applications. He pointed out that many clients are employing this solution, even hosting hundreds of developer desktops at offshore locations from their corporate datacenters. "Developers on one hand need an optimized individual developer environment," said Chu. "But in many cases, they also need access to very large scale developer environments that go up to thousands of end user developers."

No matter what the scale of your virtualization project, the DevX special report will help you garner the best results. See the Related Resources in the left-hand column for links to all the report articles. Read up and then put that dormant CPU power to use.

Glen Kunene is the Managing Editor for DevX.
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