VMWare launches Stage Manager

VMware on Monday announced the beta release of Stage Manager, a system the company says guides the transition of an IT service through the pre-production process and into the production environment.

VMware senior director of marketing Melinda Wilken said Stage Manager is the first product of its kind targeted specifically IT teams responsible for pre-production infrastructure and change configuration and release management processes for production-bound software systems.

“The management and automation capabilities of Stage Manager enables these IT teams to accelerate the accurate delivery of IT services,” she said.

Stage Manager is focused on what Wilken called “service transition activities” — the activities and infrastructure require to move a service through the stages into production.

Using VMware Infrastructure, she said, Stage Manager lets IT accurately propogate complex system changes through the integration, test, staging and user acceptance stages before committing systems into production.

When IT is trying to introduce a new service or application into production, the team will typically create dedicated systems for “shadow instances” of the system under development, rather than make changes to a production system, she said. It’s risky to tear them down, so a dedicated system might be created for each stage. Stage Manager is designed to make those multiple instances unnecessary.

Another risk: those “shadow instances” might drift from the production version if changes are made to the latter. If an update is made to the shadow instance, those changes won’t be reflected.

That drift is very common in a traditional IT shop, said Chris Wolfe, analyst with the Burton Group.

“You do have small inconsistencies between systems amongst either developers or testers, and those inconsistencies could lead to some unforeseen issues with applications,” he said.

The consequences can vary: application errors or a complete system failure. “And when things don’t work, there’s going to be a number of variables that are at play: hardware, device drivers, OS versioning, whether or not the OSes are at different patch levels,” he said.

“When you’re taking a consistent VM across the development cycle, from development to test and ultimately to production, you can carry a consistent image with you.”

One of the things Stage Manager does well, he said, is allow users to set policy-based rules. “If I do want to force a clean install (of an application) into a particular virtual machine, for example … that’s something I can enforce,” he said.

“There’s enough policy-based enforcement that you can either carry a virtual machine, say from development to test within an organization, or you can also put restrictions on how a particular application traverses from one are of an organization to another.”

The beta will be available to anyone. Pricing and packaging details will be avilable with the general relase, aimed for this summer, according to Wilken.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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