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Skytap Eases Virtual Testing And Training

Virtual Data Center vendor Skytap has unveiled a number of enhancements to its cloud-based testing and development lab.  The newest features focus on collaboration and security, simplifying the use of its cloud infrastructure solution. The new features will not only appeal to the existing users of the virtual lab, but could move the solution beyond its application development roots and into new areas, such as virtualized training. 
Skytap's latest update focuses on security and collaboration enhancements. Skytap Projects enable the sharing of virtual lab environments. Policy management has now been built into Skytap, allowing administrators to manage access and security through role-based permissions, rather than a strictly user-based access control. Account access, resource quotas and security requirements can now be defined for a role, then applied to users within that role.  
Arguably, the most interesting new feature is Skytap Resource Links. Administrators can have unique URLs automatically created for particular environments, allowing one click access to specific projects or virtual labs. This link also defines what level of access and visibility to the virtual machines is granted to the user clicking on that link.  With this feature, an enterprise maintains control over the environment, but they can quickly bring in consultants, testers and end-users without extensive user setup and policy management.
While its initial focus has been on application development and testing, Skytap's virtual data center has definite implications for enterprise training departments. With a single web link, trainers can connect end users with their own virtual workstation, hiding the rest of the virtual infrastructure from view. Trainers can preconfigure the environment, send URLs to the users, and instantly create a virtual training center. For enterprises, this is an opportunity to embrace the cloud with a direct bottom line savings in training costs. Much like the benefits Skytap touts for its virtualized lab environment, equipment and labor costs associated with setting up physical training centers could be negated by moving to a virtual one.