There’s some exciting news about Visual Studio Lab Management today.  You may recall that when we released VS/TFS 2010, we declared the Lab Management capability to be “Release Candidate” quality rather then “Released” quality.  I’ve mentioned before that the reason for this was that we just hadn’t gotten enough customer feedback to feel really confident that it was 100% ready for prime time.  In truth, it really wasn’t usable in Beta 1.  In Beta 2, it wasn’t bad but it relied on adoption of TFS and the new Visual Studio Test Professional capabilities and we just didn’t see enough people get that far before VS was ready to release.  Over the past several months, we’ve been working with early adopters, diagnosing any issues they hit and fixing all the bugs.  In all we’ve fixed a few dozen since the Release Candidate.

And the great news is it’s now ready for the big leagues! :)  So, announcement #1 today at VSLive! (in Dave Mendlen’s keynote) is that Visual Studio Lab Management will “RTM” by the end of August.  There will be an update available that can be applied to your TFS server, your Test Professional client and any build/lab agents that are installed.  This patch includes not only all of the Lab Management fixes but also all of the TFS improvements that we’ve made since release (I blogged a list of them here).  It's a single patch to update all of your installs and it’s such a useful patch, we are exploring putting it on Microsoft Update as an optional update to make it even easier to discover and install.  That will take another month or two (assuming everything works out).  It contains all of the fixes I referenced in the roll up patch, so if you don’t want to mess with installing both, you can just wait for the Lab update later this month and you’ll get everything you need.  I highly recommend all TFS customers install that patch – between the TFS improvements and the final Lab Management capabilities, it’s a great update to have.

But wait, there’s more! :)

Since we released Visual Studio Team System in 2005, we’ve gotten feedback from customers to keep the licensing simple.  There’s a lot of capability here but creating too many ways to buy it makes it too hard for people to figure it out.  In support of this goal, in 2010, we made a big change in our product line up from a “role” based model (Dev, Test, Arch, …) to a “Good, Better, Best” model (Pro, Premium, Ultimate).  The feedback I’ve seen from that change has been very positive.  We’ve also simplified the acquisition of TFS by including it in MSDN subscriptions, lowering the price, etc.  And now for the next phase…

Lab Management is an involved product.  It includes 3 major “components” – A client “Microsoft Test Manager”, a server (included as part of TFS) and an agent (that runs in the deployed application test environment).  Further, it relies on System Center Virtual Machine Manager to help manage VMs used in the testing process.

You can acquire Microsoft Test Manager by purchasing either VS Ultimate or VS Test Professional.

The server components are included in TFS and are acquired when you buy TFS (as a stand alone product, as part of your MSDN subscription, etc).

Our thinking has been that the agents would be licensed separately on a per processor basis for the machines being used for testing.  Over the past several months we’ve gotten the feedback that we’ve crossed the licensing complexity threshold again and that we need to simplify.  As result, we are announcing today that Lab Agents will be included with Team Foundation Server and will be available to both new and existing customers of TFS and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN or Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Test Professional with MSDN.

We believe this will make it easier for customers to understand and acquire.  In fact, you may already be licensed for it and can download the patch when it is available and start using it to your heart’s content.  I’m really thrilled that this next key piece of the 2010 wave of development products is ready.  I look forward from hearing about your experiences.

If you aren’t familiar with Lab Management, here’s a picture of the entry point for creating a new lab environment in Microsoft Test Manager (part of VS Ultimate and VS Test Professional).

image

Also, you can watch these videos to see it in action: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/lab_management/archive/2010/02/11/visual-studio-lab-management-videos.aspx

You can get a trial VM here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=195885.  For now this is still the Release Candidate build but will be updated with the RTM build as soon as it is available.

Lastly, here’s the main Lab Management web site for even more info: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/solutions/software-quality/lab-management

Let me know if there’s any way I can help you.  I mentioned the other day in a post that we have a lot of stuff coming out this summer.  Last week I talked about the roll up QFE for TFS, yesterday I talked about VS LightSwitch, today Lab Management and we’re not done yet.  There’s more I’ll be talking about in the coming weeks.  Keep your seat belt buckled.

Brian