Gerben’s Blog on Virtualization

Virtualization is becoming a standard

VMware Lab manager

Posted by Gerben on 05/4/2007

Steven Kishi talked about VMware Lab manager.

Lab manager is no more or less than an application running on VI3 (just like Virtual Center).

It supplies safe end user self service VM creation.

It installs in a few hours, it is easy to use and has a web interface through which user can manage and create their vm’s. In relation to VI3, the web interface supplies you with the same capabilities and functions as VI3 does, it shows all views together in one screen. It runs on Microsoft Windows 2003 server and uses IIS and ASP.NET technology for the web interface.

The most important part of lab manager is the library, so make sure you have some redundancy with that. Another interesting part of lab manager is Network Fencing. Network fencing is capable of creating a virtual network, and makes it possible to run multiple instances of a vm with the same ip and mac address. Network fencing just places a (NATing-capable) router in between which will prevent any conflicts to appear, in fact it dynamically creates an external ip’s (configurable and more or less the same principle as dhcp) for that specific vm, in order to communicate with the outside world. So if you would setup a RDP-session with one of the vm’s inside a lab configuration, you would actually connect to the external ip of that vm and the Network fencing router will take care of the translation to the right vm. This network fencing router must be seen as a virtual appliance.

At the moment cross host fencing is not available, but this will be implemented in the future. There are however some protocols that don’t work with the fencing technology, these are protocols like DCOM, in order to use that kind of protocols through fences you have to make use of proxies inside the lab configuration which take care of sending the DCOM messages.

Cooperation with Virtual Center (or better let’s say production area)

Best Practice for Storage: you could use the same storage but it is best to give Lab manager his own LUN’s

Today VC users can mess up Virtual Lab manager by performing actions at the vm’s used with lab manager. In future releases of virtual center (2.1 or above) and lab manager, Lab manager will actually use Virtual Center to do the actions.

At the moment you will have to do a manual convert from workstation to lab manager and vice versa, in later releases this process will be automated, in both lab manager and workstation there will be an import and export function.

In June 2007 there will be a major release of VMware Lab Manager introducing new fencing technology, details are not that widely spread so that keeps the excitement in.

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