Using VMWare Lab Manager to Speed Up Documentum Development

Recently, I have been having a fun old time working with our Documentum Platform team in the delivery of new solutions.  As with any enterprise platform, there’s always a large overhead in managing development and QA environments.  This becomes especially a problem when there are many different projects needing infrastructure at the same time, whether it’s net-new solution development, regression testing, evolution of an existing solution, user training and infrastructure changes.  This is further compounded when the environments are physical as the workload to maintain the environments can become quite excessive, both for IT and IS.

Many moons ago, I used a product under VMWare ESX 2.5 called Lab Manager.  At that time, the product was quite difficult to implement and had allot of quirks to it.  Needless to say, it was cool but still impractical.  After a bit of POC time in my personal lab with the latest version (vCenter Lab Manager v4.0), the improvements really have made it a prime time tool.

After much listening to complaints “we don’t have a usable DEV/QA” and from the IT Operations “We don’t have time for this”, I decided to propose a “Virtual Lab Environment”.  Having lived a pre-sales role in the past, I had to put a nice buzzword compliant spin to the project name  “Documentum Time-Value Enhancement”.  A few funny executive comments back later, the project was approved.  (Tip of the day, going crazy with buzzwords will often get a WTH? reaction)

Some of the key benefits toted where:

  • Ability to detach IT from IS development cycles
  • Developer based provisioning of environments in minutes instead of weeks
  • Better use of IT Infrastructure
  • Ability for multiple projects to run without impacting each other environmentally wise

Since we have implemented the solution, we have experienced various unexpected benefits:

  • IT Provides the standard OS load-out, no need to actually install servers on a per project basis
  • Developer satisfaction has increased
  • Deployment processes can be developed and are now thoroughly tested in advanced (deploy, test, correct and retry cycle)
  • Ability to go to any specific version of an application
  • Reduction in regression testing of environments
  • Developers have full root/administrator access to their labs
  • UAT no longer conflicts with QA, Development or other activities

Architecture wise, our lab manager environment looks like the following:

  • 4  Dell M610/R610 servers running VMWare vSphere v4.1i
  • 64GB of RAM per server
  • 2 Intel 5570 (2.93Ghz) Processors
  • 4 TB of SATA Storage from a Symmetrix VMAX array

Our previous physical environments:

  • 14 Dell M610 Servers (various memory and processor, 146GB of Local disk each)
  • 4TB of FiberChannel Storage

This is quite a big reduction in assets!  The previous physical environments only supported 1 development and 1 QA environment.  In the new configuration, under the new configuration, we’ve been running up to 11 parallel environments!  Now for the gorey details of what our main lab images look like:

Each of our “Vanilla Labs” comprise of

  • 4x RHEL/CentOS Servers w/2-8GB of RAM
  • 2x Windows 2003 Standard Servers w/4GB RAM
  • 2x Windows XP Professional Workstations w/1GB RAM
  • Full DNS and AD services per lab
  • Documentum 6.5 SP2 Installation (DamTop, TaskSpace, DA, BPM, FTI, and MTS)
  • A Developer workstation
  • A Sample desktop client machine.

Each of our “Primary Application” labs comprise of

  • 2x Windows 2003 Standard Servers w/4GB of RAM
  • 2x Windows XP Professional Workstations w/4GB of RAM
  • 12x RHEL/CentOS Servers 2/2-8GB of RAM
  • Same base services above but including custom inhouse Flex applications
  • Supporting infrastructure services such as a FTP Server
  • Solr in a shared configuration

At any one time, there are a minimum of 3 LABs deployed, and at peak, we’ve had about 11 LABs in use.

For any environment where an application teams needs fast deployment of environments, offering allot of flexibility with the least amount of dependence on their IT groups, this has become a huge gain for us.  Now, recipes can be created in the confines of a lab environment that provides everything the developers need on demand, but still remain under the control of IT.

I have to say, VMWare, this is a tool you’ve done great work with.  There are a few lessons learned, but they are quite minor and I’ll share in a future post.

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About ericgrav
Senior technologist specializing in information management and dabblings into cloud computing

One Response to Using VMWare Lab Manager to Speed Up Documentum Development

  1. Pingback: EMC to Bring Documentum to the Hybrid Cloud! « Cloud of Thought

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