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Taking virtual environments into the clouds

One of the dilemmas often faced by quality assurance professionals and testers is the setup, maintenance, and dependability of virtual computer environments. I have usedvpc andVMware extensively. While I prefer VMware over vpc, the large footprint of VMware makes it very slow on a machine with a host system of Vista and even slower if you’re using a VistaVMware image.So now I am wanting to explore some new ideas for a virtual environment. One of the first options I looked into was Skytap. Impressively extensive, with a huge variety of options and flexibility, this seems to be a tester’s dream come true.

What appealed to me the most is that it is a cloud computing service. I love services that will go with me, wherever I go, whatever computer I may be on. I don’t have to worry about messing up the configuration on my host computer, or my hard drive failing and loosing all my data, etc. For a solid quality assurance management and testing platform, Skytap offers a lot, without the hassle and drawbacks of hosting an extensive virtual environment physically on your host computer. It operates in the clouds, so no more huge footprint and custom built host machines. According to their website, it offers three main components:

  • Virtualized cloud infrastructure, including hardware, storage and networking resources
  • A ‘Software-as-a-Service’ lab manager application
  • The Skytap Library

With an impressive Virtual Lab Management Application where you can manage up to a complete system of images, a pre-built library of operating systems, databases, applications, test tools such as JMeter and Selenium, public content and a great list of Premium ISV Partner content, this is the tester’s one stop for testing needs. You can also upload existing virtual images to the clouds.

With the ability to custom manage a network of images and configure the network any way you wish, including specifying IP address, subnet settings, memory allocations, CPU usage, AND the ability to run multiple images side by side, this makes a great virtual lab. (Huge plus for me!) You can also share links byIM or email to a image that is up and running, so collaboration is a breeze. I see Skytap as a great tool to do integration, system, performance and localization testing.

So what type of computer system requirements are there to run this? It’s simple:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0+ or Firefox 2+
  • Java Virtual Machine (JVM) 1.5+

You can download a trial and also receive a virtual training session. The price tag? A low cost model starts at $500/month. If you are looking for a high quality virtual lab environment or a extensiveQA and testing platform that lives in the clouds and goes where you go, Skytap might just be the solution for you!


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