Rangers Lab Management Guide – Status Update: ALPHA Release under magnifying glass

In Rangers Build Customization Guide – Status Update: ALPHA Release under magnifying glass we introduced the first ALPHA release of the build customization guidance, which by the way, is already in its fifth revision and proceeding towards the magical BETA milestone at full power. This blog post covers another ALPHA release, this time focused on the Rangers Lab Management Guidance.

The Team …

The Rangers team working on the Lab Management Guide project consists of 25 Microsoft (Core, Extended) Visual Studio ALM Rangers and 19 external Visual Studio ALM Rangers, bringing a wide range of experience and field experience to the party. The Rangers with a lead role are listed below, ranging from Program Manager (PM), Product Owner (PO), Scrum/Ruck Master, Dev Lead to Feature Area leads.

The leads of this project include:

Bijan Javidi Vijay Machiraju Brian Blackman Willy Schaub Chris Burrows Harish Kothapalli Tony Feissle Mark Nichols Paul Meyer

Program Manager

Product Owner

Scrum/Ruck Master

Dev Lead

Planning & Setup Feature Lead

Test Labs Feature Lead

Testing Feature Lead

Maintenance Feature Lead

VM Factory Feature Lead

The Status

At this stage we have dropped the Alpha 1, which is an early preview of the guidance, which is currently being reviewed by the stakeholders and leads and which will be shared with the wider Rangers community as the content stabilizes. Looking at the product backlog we are about 3/4 done and are expecting to reach a content-freeze stage after one more sprint, during which the feature areas will complete all outstanding feature area tasks.

The ALPHA artefacts which we dropped on Monday morning

We cannot zoom in too much as we are in Alpha stage, however, you should see that there will be some great nuggets 🙂

  • Practical Guidance
  • As shown above the guidance table of content has a main section for each of the product Epics, focused on planning, setup, maintenance, usage and image automation.
  • A common questions / frequently asked questions section completes the guidance with common questions and recommended answers.
  • Capacity Planning Workbook
  • The capacity planning workbook allows you to plan your lab management infrastructure. The workbook does not calculate the ideal environment for your requirements, but rather suggests a recommended approach based on your environment.
  • A sample workbook is included for a hypothetical small team (Hawk Consultancy) and a hypothetical large team (Eagle Investments) as reference.
  • Quick Reference Poster
  • The  guidance is complemented by four quick reference posters, which summarize and visualize key components of the guidance.
  • The personal quick reference poster allows you to find the relevant guidance section, by visually selecting your team, your persona and the appropriate user story.
  • The Lab Management infrastructure quick reference poster presents a typical Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Lab Management environment, and summarises the software and port requirements.
  • The Planning and setup quick reference poster visualizes the prerequisites, topologies, references and planning & setup checklists.
  • The VM Factory quick reference poster visualizes the factory setup flow and also serves as a checklist.
  • Hands-on Labs
  • The hands-on labs are based present guided walk-through journeys of some of the key concepts covered in the guidance.
  • Videos (How to)
  • The “how to” videos are supplementary content, that again visualises the VM Factory setup and configuration tasks.
  • VM Factory
  • The V factory guidance introduces enhancements to the Rangers VM Factory, allowing you to automate the creation and configuration of golden images and other virtual machines. The key focus is on automation, minimal user involvement, consistency an automated virtual machine generation.
  • It is important to emphasise that the VM Factory can generate Hyper-V and Virtual PC compatible images.

Why will it add value to you?

Let us step through the Alpha bits and present a hypothetical use of the guidance.

  1. The user would pickup the guidance and digest the introduction, the personas, the user stories and the planning, setup and configuration basics, covered in section “Planning, setup and configuring Lab Management for ALM”. Using the guidance and the personas poster, the user would decide which company, persona and team is relevant, in essence whether we are talking about a large Eagle Investment type customer team environment, or a small Haw Consultancy team environment.
  2. The user would complete the capacity planning workbook, defining the products to be tested, the library template environment, the environment configurations and Team project collections. The workbook calculates the host and library requirements and presents guidance in terms of the minimum number of specialised machines needed, such as build and test controllers.
  3. The user would then consume the “Planning, setup and configuring Test Lab environments” section to determine the correct test lab type and environment to plan, setup and configure.
  4. The “Maintaining Lab Management environments” section presents strategies for the backup and restore of the Lab Management and Test Lab environments.
  5. Finally, the user can refer to the “Using the VM Factory to automate golden template creation” to create and configure a VM Factory that can automate the consistent creation and configuration of virtual machines. The VM Factory currently create a base image with the agents installed and a consolidated image which includes a TFS (ATDT), Visual Studio and agent environment.

The guidance therefore steps the user through the planning, the setup, the maintenance and the automation of the Lab Management environment. The “Setup and configure automated and manual test environments”, completes the circle by guiding the user through the use of the Lab management environment to perform manual and automated testing.

That’s it for today … I am hoping that I can convince the feature area leads to add their comments to this blog post and share some of their hi and low-lights of this project from their perspective. They are all busy digesting the ALPHA bits and are a passionate bunch of Rangers, so I am expecting comments shortly again:)

Comments (3)

  1. Brian Blackman says:

    Working with Willy and team as the Scrum Master is a pleasure and from which I have grown. Our team organization provides many challenges, which we have persevered to overcome. As the Dev Lead, Willy has been instrumental in driving vision and controlling the reins.

    Feature leads and their teams have shown dedication of the Rangers and the ALM community and I am always proud to serve and work with them. I trust this project provides useable value as other Ranger projects and I know my customers will benefit for this work.

  2. Chris Burrows says:

    This project has been great!    My feature team (Planning and Setup) has really come together well and in my opinion has delivered what is great lead in to the rest of the guidance.    

    When putting together the guidance we have tried to structure in such a way so that the document doesn’t have to be read from front to back.   Rather, our goal was to structure in a way that allows the reader to focus on the parts that they are most interested in.

    I think the best parts of my feature area are the following:

    • The Persona’s and Scenarios

    • The choose your own adventure quick reference poster

    • The Planning Spread sheet

    I could not have done it without Willy and Bob Hardister who have an amazing ability to complete work before I have even put in the back log!  Thanks guys and it has been a pleasure working with you.

    Finally, I look forward to the release of the beta and the feedback from the community about the format and areas that we can improve it.

  3. Zayd Kara says:

    Congratulations and well done to all.

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