Lab Management in VSTS 2010


One of the components of Visual Studio Team System 2010 is Lab Management. We first talked about this at the most recent PDC and we have seen quite a bit of excitement from our customers on this.

It is obvious that developers and testers are faced with ever-increasing complexity in the applications they build and test. This is true both for what we do at Microsoft and for everybody else out in the world doing software development.

As part of building VSTS 2010, we wanted to build the right tools that enable you to build the highest quality application.  The gap we found and addressed, was the speed and scale of the Develop – Build – Deploy – Test cycle and its use of technology like virtualization.  Our investment in Lab Management was specifically to address this gap.  

Developers are frustrated with too much bug “ping/pong” with their test counterparts and have a lack of access to distributed environments.  Testers don’t get the right tools and right attention and after spending 30-50% of their test cycle time on test setup most of their bugs get resolved with a “not reproducible” resolution.

To address those challenges we set out some basic principles – a) environment set up should take minutes and not weeks, b) walls between developers and testers need to come down, c) build automation extends to environment provisioning, build deployment and testing, d) eliminate bug “ping/pong”.

Lab Management uses virtualization technology and deep integration with our overall Application Lifecycle Management model and System Center Virtual Machine Manager to deliver on these principles.  It is built specifically to accelerate setup/tear down/restore of complex virtual environments to a clean state.  We solve the no-repro problem by allowing testers to file rich bugs with links to environment checkpoints that developers use to recreate bugs in complex environments.  With one click of a button the developer can launch a virtual environment that exactly matches the one in which the bug was found.  Finally, we extend build automation dramatically by automating virtual machine provisioning, build deployment and build verification in an integrated fashion. We believe this approach will enable teams to embrace change and be more agile in an ever demanding world.

Here is a more detailed example of how this can work for you.

LabManagement

When a tester is testing against a virtual environment and finds a bug, with a single click they can take a checkpoint of the entire environment (multiple VM’s) where they are testing.  A link to the check point, which is just a few bytes, is automatically attached to the bug along with additional rich information such as a time indexed video, action log, historical debugging log and more based on how configurable options the tester selects.  

A developer, upon getting an alert on a new bug, can open that bug from the IDE and find all the rich information along with the check point link included in the bug.  For the first time, the developer will not need to ask the tester what he/she was doing or spent long hours trying to recreate the environment.  They can simply double click on the link to the environment and a light weight lab environment viewer opens the entire environment with multiple VMs and allows the developer to restore the state of the environment with a click.  The developer now has the an environment to use for debugging using historical debugging tools like we have coming in VSTS 2010 that helps them to rewind in code and find out the sequence of events or program flow that lead to the bug.

As you can imagine, Lab Management will significantly improve the developer-tester workflow and will help the development effort be a lot more productive and effective. 

Namaste!


Comments (30)

  1. Etienne MARGRAFF says:

    I searched a bit on the VS2010 PDC VPC but couldn’t find this… When will we be able to test that powerful feature ? 🙂

  2. Mark Gordon says:

    Soma,

    Didn’t you read the comments on your previous blog from all the satisfied VS C++ developers… What part of those comments did you fail to understand?

    Soma we are not frustrated with too much bug “ping/pong” in our applications! We are frustrated with Visual Studio and the .BLOAT framework and having to play "ping/pong" with Microsoft over this lousy VS development environment! We are frustrated with BLOATED development tools that still lack a true N-TIER data centric language.

    Soma, as it turns out we had the right tools in 6.0 and Microsoft issued an end of life for that product line. Visual Studio and .BLOAT is far from the "right" tool for most non-enterprise based customers and in most cases is a step in the wrong direction.

    Please don’t insult us by trying to spin internal development tools you need at Microsoft to get a handle on "your " development efforts as community driven requests.

    From Microsoft’s perspective as long at the flashy WPF UI is half implemented to create some really cool powerpoint presentation for the VS cheerleaders that speak at devcon to woo newbie developers that is all that matters… I see symbolism or substance is still alive and well at  Microsoft!

  3. In my last post I had mentioned about the Lab Management Product and also pointed you to a channel 9

  4. Shay Mandel says:

    The Lab Management team has a blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/lab_management

    Where you can read more about the product and keep updated.

    The VSTS CTP did not include the Lab Management piece, which was release a few weeks later to selected customers. If you want to evaluate Lab before the official Beta, visit the blog and send a mail to the team.

  5. David Hogan says:

    I think this feature will lead to some significant quality and productivity increases in team environments. Nice!

  6. Ponnu says:

    Very interesting stuff, looking forward to VSTS 2010. Have emailed the VSTS team for the CTP(with Lab Management) details.

  7. Publicación del inglés original : Viernes, 12 de diciembre de 2008 5:30 PM PST por Somasegar Uno de los

  8. You testers tired of continually setting up your test only to find have bug that can’t be reproduced?

  9. Andrew Webb says:

    Good to see you got rid of the adverts, which for me just cheapened your site adnd watered down your message.  Re-subscribed!

  10. Jarilo says:

    Greate! I think our testers and developers will be happy! Looking forward to VSTS 2010

  11. Soma writes about some of the exciting capabilities coming in VSTS 2010, particularly in regards to the

  12. Alok Kumar says:

    I am a developer and I am sure this is going to save a lot of time in reproducing the defect, as I will not have to wait on the tester to reproduce a defect at my side. It would be nice if some way we can attach process to the debug the scenario. I hope Microsoft moves in that direction.

  13. John says:

    This could be a very helpful tool for developers and testers. Would like to try this out.

    Gordon, what are you trying to prove by living in the past and comparing a primitive and ancient 6.0 version with latest Visual Studio? Which non-enterprise customers are you talking about? I am a non-enterprise customer and I am happy with the latest Visual Studio and its amazing features. Btw, have you heard of the express editions of visual studio?

  14. Mark Gordon says:

    @JOHN… Express is limited to 5 users, the applications I develop exceed that limit. If you are not building an enterprise based solution then you are probably not working in a large team environment therefore your excitement about this tool appears to be unfounded and amounts to nothing more then cheerleading.

    I’m so tired of people saying Visual Studio is the greatest latest technology it is not funny. Much of the core of .NET is based upon legacy code that has been around forever. EDM is M$FT’S version of an ORM and MVC has already been accomplished in ruby so innovation is nonexistent.

    WPF would be worthwhile to implement on the web but it fails there as well given the client must have the .BLOAT framework installed. The funny part is XAML and VFP meta data approach (SCX and VCX files) behind the scenes have a lot more in common then people think the big difference the model worked in VFP for developers and in WPF once again Microsoft is trying to reinvent the wheel and calling it new and developers are buying it.

    Having said that considering the pathetic class browser in VS , lack of a “solid” data access strategy and data centric language, I rather live in a “TRUE” RAD productive environment such as VFP / VB then “play” in MSFT most recently released DEV tools and be forced to write more code and technically speaking implement what amounts to true “legacy” code (.NET) which in typical Microsoft fashion has been spun and dressed up to complete their smoke and mirrors development process.

    Given the cheerleader thought process is no wonder why Microsoft can get away with this nonsense. Soma probably sits in his office amazed and laughing with what he can get away with. You all are nothing more then his puppets!

  15. Antonio Sanchez says:

    @Mark: Could you explain where did you saw or where says that the Express versions of Visual Studio are limited for 5 users? And btw, I think you are missing a really fundamental point on .NET. If you are going to develop a real-time or mission critical app you definately use C++. If you are building a business app or anything else you could use C++, .NET, Java or anything that can get things done. And thats the point, use the big guns for the big job.

    The last point you said that you prefer a RAD like VFP or VB I think you dont have the correct aproach on that neither. With VB or VFP is true you can build an app in seconds, but, does it scale? can you call it Enterprise-grade or Business-grade app? I come from VB and the only time I developed that kind of apps where in highschool because a real bussiness app doesn’t rely on ADO Data Control or DataConnection or whatever wizard-driven-development-tool produces.

  16. SB says:

    @mark gordon: whats up with this "cheerleading" statements that you come up with in every post? you need to cut the crap and describe scientifically what you are talking about. None of your posts have anything "substantial" to say to rest of the readers – except your whining and cheerleading of ancient technology that doesnt scale or provide any security. who cares if you can build a cheap RAD application with VFP or VB. can it scale or provide the security needed for applications today? VB by the way has no principals of OOP. how can you maintain apps developed using VB today? it seem that you are lost or stunned by the progress thats going on in recent times and refuse to move along.

    and yes, soma is must be laughing – at you and your lame comments!

  17. Antonio Sanchez says:

    I think we might just ignore him. Has anyone read his blog,  http://dotbloat.blogspot.com? I’m really starting to believe he is just another RAD fanboy who loves wizards and non-OOP languages.

    I would point out his post Septic Tank Trucks VS The Benz (http://dotbloat.blogspot.com/2008/11/microsoft-cheerleaders.html). He has no idea of what he is talking about.

    For example "1) Cost Of Ownership: Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro both could be distributed royality free and the hardware necessary to run these applications is less then a Visual Studio/SQL Server solution so a lower cost of ownership exists with a VB/VFP based solution.", Im starting to think that he is just another VB+MSAccess fanboy or VFP religion pope.

    In resume, just crap not a single well-thought comment based on facts.

  18. Antonio Sanchez says:

    BTW, I really doubt his presumptions: "Expert Programmer – Visual Studio, SQL Server, Java, C++, Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro. Specializing in object oriented n-tier application development and framework architecture.".

  19. Erik Cox says:

    I am a tester and when you said that "testers don’t get the right tools and right attention and after spending 30-50% of their test cycle time on test setup…"…well you were half right..the 1st part is 100% true –we don’t get the right tools….but the cycle time spending is more like 40-60% at least! And as a tester I am more than looking forward to

    <a href="http://www.notionsolutions.com">VSTS 2010</a>..

  20. Development, Test and Build/Release need clean environments for deployment. For complex multi-tier applications

  21. James says:

    Is trial version for Lab Management in VSTS 2010 available.can i get more information on this please.

  22. Somasegar says:

    Hi James,

    When we ship a Beta of VSTS 2010 this year, we will also make a Beta of Lab Management available for you to try out.

    Thanks,

    Somasegar

  23. As part of my role in working with partners in the Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) Program I have

  24. Venkat says:

    Soma,

    We want to automate our testing using VSTS version 8. I am finding it hard to get any related information on this topic online. Does the latest version have any improvements in this area? Please let me know.

    Thanks,

    Venkat

  25. Ram Cherala says:

    Hi Venkat,

    With VSTS2010 we have made significant investments in Test Case Management, Manual Testing, Fast forward for automation, Coded UI test, etc.You can read about all these features and more at our team blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/visualqualitytools. With Coded UI test you can convert your manual test actions to Code (C# or VB) which you can in turn run as automated tests.

    Thanks,

    Ram

  26. Ram Cherala says:

    Hi Venkat,

    The correct URL for the Test Team Blog is: http://blogs.msdn.com/vstsqualitytools/

    Thanks,

    Ram

  27. Hoda says:

    Thank You for your useful post:)

    I'm manager of a team project, i want to distribute my project in which any member can run project as a whole but see only related sections. for example, I want my graphist only see .html pages but can run whole of project. I hope to explain clearly.

    I don't know how can i do it.Please help me:)

  28. Donbosco says:

    Can VSTS Lab Management be used for Citrix based Load / Performance Testing? As per the comments from one of the Microsoft blog, VSTS 2010 does not support Citrix based load / performance testing.

    Would like to know whether the integration of Lab Management enable Citrix based Load / Performance testing.

    Appreciate your thoughts on this.

  29. Hi Donbosco

    With Lab Management you can manage the machines used for generating the load/performance tests. But there is no new protocol support for load/performance testing capabilities. Web performance tests are still supported for http protocol only.

    Thanks

    Vishal