Best Practices to Deploy VMs in a Lab Environment

By CIOReview | Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Enterprises delivering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and other related services to customers demand optimum quality in the vendor offerings to build a long-term and strong client relationship. A solution can only be of good quality when it is well groomed and the architecture is under best Quality testing practice. So, a myriad of solution provider are eyeing on QA testing practice by using Virtual Machines (VMs) in a virtual testing lab environment.

Running a VM on lab environment is different from the standard deployment practice. A lab environment is subject to testing and researching of various applications, codes, and software which runs on different platforms and Operating system (OS). While performing tests in a lab environment certain challenges are involved —unchecked lab VMs affecting the actual production system. To prevent production system from being infected by lab VMs, CIO needs to set some norms or policies to structure and create well configured lab VMs. Policies for building lab VMs differs as every organization does not test their software in the same manner.  But there are some tips to set a perfect virtualization lab environment:

Leverage Sandboxed Environment: A sandbox is an isolated testing environment where files and programs are run without actually affecting other applications which are deployed on the same VM. Further, it isolates other VMs from being affected by the tested VM. Software developers utilize sandbox to compute and test new programming code. There are many companies who offer virtualized sandboxed solutions like ‘Microsoft’ that are customized to the needs of the organization or user—user can enable and disable the restriction policies, workflow access, external data access, and permission restriction.

Create Home Virtualization Lab: An organization contending for a cost-effective virtual lab, a virtual home lab will best suite the option. To set up a virtual home lab environment, organizations need to define what type of testing is to be conducted on the VM, later compile all the components—hardware, router, virtualization platform, OS, and software. Additionally, to manage security of VMs it is essential to build a Domain Controller (DC). While running VMs in laptop/ Desktop users have to ensure that they do not run out of disk space.

Shape Lab VMs with EVALExperience: For organizations which use VMware’s virtualization tools, EVALExperience offers these users the access to all the latest tools that are needed to execute the best QA testing practice. CIOs can expand their knowledge with the help of EVALExperience. The license is available to VMUG Advantage Subscribers where single annual download is needed for personal use in a non-production environment. This download consists of the latest VMware products—VMware vCenter Server Standard for vSphere, vSphere with Operations, vRealize products, and VMware Virtual SAN. The use of EVALExperience helps administrators to bypass the traditional use of trial and short term licensed software.

Along with these best practices to deploy VMs safely in lab environment, CIOs can also opt for VMware’s vSphere lab which features lab for work and home and is a cost efficient. The initial cost is a bit high as procurement of the hardware is necessary. With the next generation vSphere the legacy method of running multiple server lab environment has been purged today, saving lot of capital as consumption of electricity is less, and it does not take plenty of space. For lab series of vSphere, a user needs Hypervisor to create and run VMs, a reliable and inexpensive server, and a networking and storage system. Prior to testing, deploy a data backup and storage system which helps to restore the entire document or file in case of any system failures. Additionally, connect a backup power system to the lab environment, as it helps to save the changes when power outage occurs.