A real-world Q&A about Microsoft Lab Management

In this post I’m going to provide high-level answers to a few questions that I recently received concerning Lab Management. Having trouble locating good information and guidance on Visual Studio’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) capabilities and its functional modules? A great place to start is with the team blog where information about the 2012 Release Candidate build can be found. Additionally, in preparation for launch, the Visual Studio Rangers have released several new guides.


“Discuss using VM templates versus VM images for Lab Management environments”

This is a great article on the topic.  It covers composing environments of existing machines and creating environments from stored templates or VMs. To help determine which approach would be most suitable for the given circumstances, Microsoft has published guidelines for VS 2010 here and for 2012 in this article.


“Why when you create a new virtual environment do you have to enter the windows product Key, and is there a way around it?”

This is by design when creating an environment from a template.  When a template is imported from SCVMM into a project some sensitive information is removed, including the product key. Please see this article for more details.

“What’s the proper way to clean up the image library, also how can you move, disconnect and reconnect image without corrupting the VHD file?”

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is the tool that should be used to manage virtual machines used for lab environments.

“How many VM can be used in the same environment?”

“How many testing environment can I have on one host group?”

“What’s the maximum number of VM and template that can be on a VM host server?”

Capacity planning is crucial to an environment or Lab Management installation meeting the needs of the organization so there is no short answer to this question. I recommend the following resources:

Visual Studio ALM Rangers 2010 Lab Management Practical Guidance


“Can the same VM template be used in a different environment?”

    You can use a stored VM template to create VMs in different environments. Source

    “How many VM environments can be used by the same controller?”

    The Lab Management Practical Guidance document, link above, recommends one test controller for every 50 virtual machines actively used for testing.

    “Do agents have to be installed on each host that’s running Microsoft test manager?”

    For VS 2010, the test agent, the lab agent, and the build agent should be installed in each VM, not the machines running Microsoft Test Manager (MTM). For VS 2012, there is only one agent – named Test Agent – and it is installed in each VM.

    Comments (1)

    1. edblankenship says:

      Thanks for the great post!

      For required product keys when provisioning a new environment from virtual machine templates, I also mention that if you want to start the trial process (which usually gives you three 30-day periods) you can use the KMS Client Product Keys that are published here:  technet.microsoft.com/…/ff793421.  This works when you are spinning up a truly temporary environment that you are going to throwaway after using it for development/testing.

      Alternatively, you can setup a KMS Server infrastructure to handle Windows & Office activation automatically for machines in your dev & test lab.  MSDN subscriptions cover the licensing for dev & test use and KMS is a good infrastructure for handling the activation side of things.

      For agents in Visual Studio/TFS 2012, the awesome thing is that Lab Management will push out the agents automatically if you want it to or if you can have them pre-installed in the virtual machine templates to make that process quicker.  Be sure to keep the Agents up to date with the latest updates, service packs, etc. if you want to pre-install them.

      Ed Blankenship

      Program Manager for Lab Management, Visual Studio ALM


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