VMware Lab Manager is dead. Long live vCloud Director

Dev/test, QA, and training teams are losing a virtualization management application in favor of a new cloud application

These virtual times, they are a-changin'. The writing has been on the wall for VMware Lab Manager for quite some time, and now the official word has come down from VMware that it will discontinue development on this dev/test, sandbox lab management software and transition users from Lab Manager to vCloud Director.

We know that technology in the world of IT doesn't sit still for long, so why would virtualization be any different? Why would VMware rest on its laurels with its lab management product? The story coming out of VMware for the past couple of years has been all about the cloud. Virtualization is no longer a story about the single data center environment. Things have moved onward and upward, and our data centers are moving into someone else's facility and onto someone else's equipment. VMware clouds -- ready or not, here they come.

[ Will Dell, HP and IBM focus on creating their own virtualization management tools or will they create plug-ins to VMware vCenter? | Also on InfoWorld, read about VMware's presidential shake-up and learn about their four co-presidents. ]

In a recent email to Lab Manager customers, VMware wrote:

We want to provide you with an important update about the vCenter Lab Manager product. As customers continue to expand the use of virtualization both inside the datacenter and outside the firewall, we are focusing on delivering infrastructure solutions that can support these expanded scalability and security requirements. As a result of this focus, we have decided to discontinue additional major releases of vCenter Lab Manager. Lab Manager 4 will continue to be supported in line with our General Support Policy through May 1st, 2013.

As VMware continues to invest in our customers' journey to cloud computing, we are focusing on delivering secure multi-tenant enterprise hybrid clouds with VMware vCloud Director. vCloud Director is a new software solution that provides the scalability and security necessary to deliver catalog-based self-service provisioning across different workload types, across multiple enterprise tenants, and across both private and public deployment models.

Many users of VMware Lab Manager have been predicting this move and discussing the fact that VMware had become lax about updating Lab Manager. The company hadn't released a major update since July 2009 when it launched vCenter Lab Manager 4.0. And when VMware officially released vCloud Director at VMworld 2010, this seemed the final nail in the Lab Manager coffin. It was evident the two products were very similar in nature and had quite a bit of feature overlap. Only one could survive, and we all knew which one that would be.

Still, transition from Lab Manager to vCloud Director could prove difficult for some users, especially less advanced virtualization users or small to medium-sized organizations with a watchful eye on their budget.

While Lab Manager supports Microsoft SQL Server Express on the backend, vCloud Director supports a much more expensive database platform, namely Oracle 10g or 11g. This change alone could keep some customers from making the transition. However, this is a 1.0 release, and the product could be expanded over time to include a more cost-effective platform.

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