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We have a QA department that have to test our software on multiple combination of OS and DMBS. With Windows spewing out many different versions the combinatorial math of all this can be daunting. So we decided on visualizing our setups but so far it only displaces the problem. The cost of hardware is expensive and we need many different combination far exceeding your server capacity to deliver. Also, these instances are throw away, once the test is complete we no longer need it, furthermore to ensure proper test isolation we should start fresh from a new instance. Lastly we only need a small subset of these system online at any given time.

What I am looking for is a way to manage inventory so that our QA staff can order instances to be put online as required and discarded once used. Instances are spawned from a pool of freshly installed systems with the appropriate combination ready to accept our software. It also should be possible for two or more people to start the same instance at the same time, though we could manage without this if it proves too complex to put in place. Finally our budget is pretty thin, we can probably make some purchases but ideally expenditures should be kept to a minimum.

To summarize we should be able to :

  • Bring instances online on demand. Ideally should offer queue and scheduling management
  • Destroy instances on demand
  • Keep masters in inventory but not online.
  • Manage large inventory of VMs (30-100 maybe more) with small staff of users (5-10).
  • Allow adding, deleting and changing instances from inventory (bring online, make changes and check back in, or create new and check in).
  • Allow few long lived instances for support tools (normal VM server usage)

Thanks for your answers

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closed as not constructive by random May 15 '13 at 20:15

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I'm sure you've already looked at offerings by Microsoft and VMware.

You might find interesting the open-source project oVirt.

From running a few virtual machines on a single host to managing thousands of VMs over hundreds of hosts on a network, oVirt is built to make virtualization easy and expand to meet your needs.


Also, this article from 2006 might still have some relevance : Managing virtual machines.

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yes, we are currently using ESXi as a virtual machine server but it comes short of expectations. Still it is better than having virtual images downloaded on our systems and running them locally. Ever tried to run a VM with win server 2008, Oracle and IIS on a laptop !! oVirt looks nice but it is still a young project and offers little more than our current setup. – Newtopian Nov 19 '09 at 13:09
The advantage of open-source is that you can add the missing functionality, to the benefit of us all. – harrymc Nov 19 '09 at 13:21
yes, I agree with you on that point and try to look first in the open source offerings before I venture elsewhere, many of the tools I currently use for production on inhouse are opensource. This being said though it is true I can dig in and bring up missing pieces I also have to do what is regarded as productive work, not always easy to convince that working on code that is not theirs is also productive for them... sight... – Newtopian Nov 20 '09 at 2:15

Have a look at Proxmox VE.
It's free, linux based and offers an easy web-interface to manage your virtual machines.
We use it for a significantly smaller number of VMs but my guess it that it scales well.
It can virtualize Linux on any hardware and needs hardware virtualization support (Intel calls it "VT", I think) for Windows VMs.

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