I recall speaking with a customer years ago about introducing a new ESX host for testing purposes – he was concerned about the parallel creation of a wild west where VMs would spring up willy-nilly, in an unstructured fashion quickly using up resources without anyone enforcing discipline to clean up un-used VMs thereby returning resources to the ESX pool for use by other testers. Only half the battle to prevent a wild west can be won with the gathering of requirements to help plan out a new Lab Management environment. Once LM has been deployed and is in use, our experience is that it must be managed – by that I mean some process has to be established to deploy VMs and environments after the initial test environments have been established – decommissioning VMs and environments once they are no longer useful is also important.
Management can be complex. In our situation we have a lot of players. Since we host Lab Management we own some responsibilities such as assigning ips to machines after they are deployed. Customers can and very often do deploy new environments to LM, but since environments are associated with individual team projects, QA team members for one team might not know what members from another team are doing or require of the Lab Management environment. To begin to address the coordination challenges associated with LM management, we have begun to publish a report of the VMs and environments/team projects they are associated with for our customers. This gives all of the QA team members, no matter what team project they are a part of, a good view into resource use. We are working with our customers through on line meetings to periodically review this report and understand what plans there are for new environments. This helps us to jointly set priorities and initiate clean-up activities for test environments that may no longer be useful. We will be continually improving our reports for customers so that there is good visibility into how much capacity there is on LM and how old/the last times environments were used to facilitate clean up.