VMware has produced a new test product, Lab Manager, to help control and manage virtual machines.

The company marketing manager Richard Garsthagen explained: "You don't have to set up new VMs (virtual machines), just but one template library for all the VMs that can be deployed out. Lab Manager uses link cloning - it creates new VMs that are based on central disk set. As a developer, I don't copy masses of data, I just get changes from the originals."

Lab Manager automates the setup, capture, storage and sharing of multi-machine software configurations through a Web-based portal. VMware Infrastructure allows Lab Manager to work with other VMware products in a process the company calls virtual software lifecycle automation.

According to the company, the software will speed up software development cycles and increase the quality of final software products because bug-hunts and fixes are easier and faster. In particular, said Garsthagen, businesses save on hardware, as developers now work within centrally stored VMs, and don't all end up with an expensive test server under their desks. Time is also saved as there is no need for manual system setup and provisioning.

VP Dan Chu said of the software: "Lab Manager enables and automates the management of complex software configurations containing multiple virtual machines across the software lifecycle, accelerating and simplifying closed-loop processes that extend from development and testing through integration, staging, deployment and management."

VMware Lab Manager was beta-tested earlier this year by 650 participants, and the public beta version is now available for download. It will be generally available in December 2006, starting from $15,000 and bundled with VMware Infrastructure 3 from $35,000.