Virtualization In Software Development

Virtualization’s big push to fame was arguably kick-started by VMware’s Workstation product, which allowed individual users to run a bunch of OSes, versions or instances (similar to multiple application windows) instead of having a one-at-a-time multi-boot environment. In many companies, virtualization arrived with developers first using the technology quietly to do testing and development, then introducing the virtualization tools to IT higher-ups.

While today, computer virtualization fuels many production environments, e.g., servers, desktop infrastructures, and as a provisioning tool, virtualization is also used by a still-growing number of software developers. For starters, they use virtualization tools to provide a range of target environments for development and testing (such as different operating systems, OS versions and browsers), and also to provision/re-provision configuration instances quickly and easily.

Here’s a look at how and why some of today’s developers are using virtualization and what their quibbles are with the technology as it stands.

Provisioning Multiple Test Environments

Mark Friedman, a senior software architect, works in Microsoft’s Developer Division, where upwards of 3,000 people create Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. Friedman himself works mainly on the performance tools that ship with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team System. “About two-thirds of the people in my division are in development and testing — and most of these developers and testers are using system virtualization (via Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology) as one of their key productivity tools,” says Friedman, who is also a board director of The Computer Measurement Group.