A new application programming interface released this week gives development and test teams the ability to link their ground-based test systems with virtual operating systems accessed through a browser. It all comes from Skytap, which earlier this year released Virtual Lab, a Web-based infrastructure that provisions virtual hardware, software, networking and storage in which to run and test applications.

According to the company, the new API permits development teams to create a so-called "hybrid" software development and testing infrastructure in which the physical test systems running in their labs can make use of cloud-based resources, and do it transparently to the applications and systems involved.

The solution's secret sauce is a REST-based Web service interface that enables control of cloud-based resources programmatically. Access to the Skytap environments is provided through static, public IP addresses. IT environments are linked via automatically generated VPN connections; all configurations are GUI-driven. An organization’s existing virtual machines, Skytap claims, can be uploaded without modification to the Virtual Lab and controlled from the ground as usual. The infrastructure supports hypervisors from Citrix and VMware; support for Microsoft Hyper-V is planned. A variety of Linux and Unix versions are supported, as are Windows and mainframe systems.

“The advantages of cloud computing introduce an entirely new model for IT,” said Skytap CEO Scott Roza, “where organizations can leverage their existing virtualization investments, increase business agility and reduce costs by transitioning…environments into the cloud.”

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I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

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