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Surgient, Forgotten Stepchild, Burnishes Virtualized Application Testing

The company recently upgraded its Surgient Virtual Lab Management Applications 5.3 to support a wider variety of guest operating systems, 64-bit hosts, and complex networking scenarios.
Testing software in a safe, non-production environment "is the red-headed stepchild" that no one wants to claim, says Erik Josowitz, VP of product strategy for Surgient.

Both newly developed in-house applications and purchased packaged applications are seldom accompanied by money set aside for testing. Yet, they must be tested before being launched into production. The testers are expected to improvise. "You don't get a budget. You just get hand-me-downs" in the form of unused hardware, said Josowitz in an interview.

Surgient specializes in the poorly understood field of virtualized testing, quality assurance, and test management software. It recently upgraded its Surgient Virtual Lab Management Applications 5.3 to support a wider variety of guest operating systems, 64-bit hosts, and complex networking scenarios.

But Surgient must sometimes feel like a red-haired stepchild itself, given all the attention that its big server virtualization brothers, like VMware, Microsoft, and XenSource, now part of Citrix, are receiving. In an era of burgeoning interest in virtualization, it's hard for Surgient to command the spotlight, Josowitz said.

Gene Hahn, a systems analyst with the Nebraska Public Power District in Columbus, Neb., attended VMware's user group meeting, VMworld, in San Francisco, and he at least understood why a company focused on testing applications might have a promising future.

"We are mainly looking ahead to a hardware replacement cycle," he said during the show earlier this month. His firm would like to install MySAP applications and wants to test them in virtual machines before putting them into production. By using them in virtual machines, it might avoid or reduce the amount of hardware it must upgrade.

Even in production, it may run them in virtual machines in order to consolidate servers and save energy in its data center, he said in an interview.

SAP technical experts gave two sessions during VMworld on how to bring virtualized SAP applications into a company.

Hahn said, however, that he was just getting started in virtualization and would focus on VMware's ESX Server "and not run several competing technologies."

Surgient, however, can capture images of complex application/operating system and networking environments, then test two or more working together as they might in a production setting. It can also manage testing of application users coming into the production environment from outside the company's firewall.

Pricing for a workgroup version of Virtual Lab Management Applications 5.3 is $35,000.

In July, Surgient promoted its CFO, Tim Lucas, to CEO, replacing Bill Daniel, who remains a company advisor.