Skytap To Demo Cloud Lab at Microsoft's PDC Event

A new cloud-based lab service for developers will be demonstrated by Seattle-based Skytap Inc. at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles next week.

Developers can create unique testing environments on the fly using the Skytap Virtual Lab. The service enables the addition of virtual machines (VMs), as needed, with just the click of a mouse. Skytap offers a library of prebuilt VMs with "images of major operating systems, databases, applications and test tools," according to company literature.

Dynamic test environments can be built without the usual hardware, software and lab personnel costs, according to Ian Knox, Skytap's director of product management.

"Skytap is the only virtual lab that allows developers to run existing applications on virtual machines in the cloud without changing any code," Knox said in a telephone interview on Friday. "We believe this cloud model has tons of advantages for developers."

A virtual lab is inherently scalable, allowing developers to set up and tear down environments as needed. Moreover, testing teams can collaborate in real time, according to Skytap's literature.

Skytap's service, which might be called "laboratory as a service" (LaaS), adds to the general acronym pileup associated with cloud computing. Other acronyms in the mix are SaaS (software as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service). Microsoft insists on "software plus services," a combination of installed and cloud-based solutions.

Microsoft is expected to make several announcements concerning its cloud-computing plans at the PDC, including a presumed .NET-based framework in the cloud code-named "Red Dog."

For its part, Skytap is keeping its eye on delivering configurable test environments.

"We do not see ourselves competing with offerings such as Microsoft's Red Dog or Amazon's EC2," Knox said. "We are a lab that can place your apps in the cloud where developers can benefit from unlimited configurability."

Skytap is poised to make a major announcement on Monday concerning a new integration with Microsoft, according to Knox. The company earlier announced an application programming interface facilitating access to the Skytap Virtual Lab.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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