Everything you want to know about Visual Studio ALM and Farming
Brian Harry is a Microsoft Technical Fellow working as the Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server. Learn more about Brian.
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One of the cool new capabilities in the 2010 wave of products is Lab Management. It allows you to easily manage a pool of virtual machines and automate deployment and testing of your applications. Lab Management allows you do define "Environments" - collections of virtual machine templates that define your application deployment architecture. For example, a 3 tier environment would have a client, a mid tier and a data tier VM template. Once you have an environment, you can easily and repeatabily deploy builds of your software onto it and run automate or manual tests.
However, getting a proper environment configured can be a fair amount of work. Preparing all the VMs takes a lot of steps and a lot of time. Accounts need to be set up for talking to TFS. Lab, deployment and test agent software needs to be installed. A bunch of Windows settings need to be adjusted (screen saver turned off, IE popups (like auto complete, etc) need to be disabled, and more). It can take many hours to get it all done and it's easy to miss a step.
To help with this, we are working on a tool that will automatically prepare your VM templates for you. The first pre-release of the tool is now available on CodePlex here: http://vslabmgmt.codeplex.com/. You'll find the documentation for it on the CodePlex site.
We expect to have it finished and ready for broad use by the time the 2010 products are released.
I think you'll find this tool to be a really big timesaver for you. Let us know if you have any feedback.