Follow up on my TechDays Lab Management session about the cost.

I have seen a few tweets after my Techdays session on Lab Management that it sounded expensive. It is true that Lab Management is an extra license to purchase over and above Visual Studio. However under the new licensing model for VS you have to remember that as an MSDN subscriber you are already licensed for a TFS CAL and Server and if you have VS2010 Ultimate you are licensed for the Test Professional tools. With this collection of tools you can do much of the bits I showed in my session:

  • You can have a build server that runs MSTest (or nUnit) tests
  • You can create Gated Check Ins
  • You can use the new WF based build process (which you can extend yourself) that can include deployment to test boxes

Personally I think you can do this far easier than with a CC.NET/NAnt/SVN CI stack. That is not to say this stack is not really powerfully, but that you need to make more on a learning/time investment to get theses separate tools running together.

As I said in my session I think the key advantage of VS/TFS is the end to end ALM story, you can track and report on everything. The various components might not do everything its competitors do, but in my opinion they are in this release very close in functionality.

As to Lab Manager, as soon as you look at any comprehensive test environment, virtual or not, there are going to be costs. Irrespective of how you build it you are going to need tin and operating system licenses. It is not a going to be a cheap option, but any serious test lab strategy will need some investment and I think the Lab Management license itself will not be the major part of the cost.