In most testing projects, we need to setup and manage many test environments – from Windows 2000 Advanced Server to Windows Server 2008 R2, from Redhat Enterprise 5 to Solaris 11, from Microsoft SQL Server 2005 to Oracle 11g R2. This is required because testers frequently switch among them to verify and validate the quality of the products across multiple platforms. We’ve found that setting up and managing many test configurations can be accomplished well with VMWARE Esxi.

VMWare Esxi, now renamed as “VMware vSphere Hypervisor”, is a popular virtualization solution and has many benefits:

  1. Perhaps the most important point, it’s free! You can create virtual machines and thus, you save money on hardware, power etc. again.
  2. It’s very simple to install Esxi on your PC; just put the installation disk into the CD-ROM drive, boot, select a few options, and wait for a few minutes.
  3. You can create many virtual machines, with the limitation being your hard disk space.
  4. With Esxi, you can make snapshots for an environment and “ghost” back to the points at any time. Of course you also can power on or power off the virtual machines as you wish.

Normally in my projects, we use machines with a 500 GB hard disk. This is enough for 10 to 20 common configurations (OS + applications). With 6 GB RAM; 3 virtual machines can run smoothly. Of course, the RAM used varies based on the OS version and the applications you are using. For a clean XP, 500 MB RAM is enough; but for a Windows Server 2008 R2 with Oracle 11G R2 installed, you may have to allocate 3 to 4 GB.

Tip: To use Esxi in virtualizing a 32 bit OS together with another 64 bit OS, your CPU should support VT (Virtualization Technology). You can enable VT in BIOS, Advanced > Processor Configuration > Intel(R) Virtualization Technology.

Overall, Esxi is an easy-to-use virtualization solution that can save time and money in setting up and managing multiple test environments.