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Introducing Hands-on Labs in a Box

hol in a box

Have you attended an Expert-led Workshop at VMworld or a VMUG and thought it would be great if you could host one at your next event?  The Hands-on Labs team is excited to announce Hands-on Labs in a Box.  In a sense, we are delivering Labs as a Service, but with guidance on best how to use it.  This will allow you to utilize the Hands-on Labs Online infrastructure along with our knowledge and best practices for hosting your own event.  We will supply the documentation and labs for you to facilitate the event; all you need to supply are devices to take the labs, the network bandwidth to support it and of course users!  Best of all, this service is offered at no charge and is available to VMware Employees, as well as our Partners and Customers.  Depending on the type of event you want to host, you can chose any or all of the labs that are listed in our online catalog.  For the most current listing of labs, you can visit the HOL Online portal at labs.hol.vmware.com.  Since building out your own Hands-on Labs infrastructure would be complex in nature, the labs you choose will run out of our datacenters and there is no back-end infrastructure you need to provide.

If you are new to the Hands-on Labs scene, an Expert-led Workshop is a session we run at VMworld, Partner Exchange, vForums/VMUGs and other VMware Conferences and Events.  A topic and lab are selected for an Expert in that particular field to deliver.  In the session, the Expert will walk through a portion of the lab and guide the attendees through that section.  This also gives the Expert the ability to bring in knowledge on how they have seen the specific solution deployed and offer their best-practices.  Since the audience is small in size, typically 10-20 attendees, they have an opportunity to ask the Expert questions on how it may fit in their environment.

Expert-led Workshop

Hopefully you can start to see what a valuable tool this can be.  We have seen VMware Field Sales teams use this method for educating a Customer on a solution or Partners educating their Customers in much the same way.  Partners have used it to enable their own internal Pre-Sales Engineers or Service Delivery teams.  While anyone can read through a lab manual and perform the presented tasks, having someone with the expertise guide you through the solution and offer their valuable insight makes it a much more rewarding experience.

Hands-on Labs in a Box could also be used in much the same way as they are at VMworld with Self-paced Labs.  A Self-paced Lab is simply letting an attendee pick a Lab from a catalog and walk through it themselves.  While this is a very popular method of taking a lab, the downside is that you will not have that one on one interaction with the attendee as you would in an Expert-led Workshop.  We often see this method being used for Enablement.  For example, at our own internal Field Engineering Event, we use Hands-on Labs to offer our SE’s some additional stick-time with our products and solutions.  Partners have used this method as well at their internal events.  It’s also a great way to brush up on the technology and test different scenarios out prior to a services engagement.

With a little effort and some coordination, either one of these methods could be used to host an Online event.  Should you run into an issue, it does make troubleshooting more of a challenge, but is very effective method for enabling a group that is geographically disperse.  If you do decide to go the Online route, make sure you have someone to captivate the audience’s attention.    In general, we have found that a speaker has the first few minutes to grab the audience’s attention.

Instructor-led LabWhile you could still host your own events today, the benefit of using the Hands-on Labs in a Box is that you will not only gain our knowledge and documentation for hosting an event, but by letting us know, we can properly prepare our environment for it and better ensure success.  This is especially important if you plan on hosting an event with say 30 attendees and will be using a single lab.  If we are not aware, it could mean that some of the attendees will be waiting for their lab to deploy.  There is some back-end work we can do to make the labs are spun up and available for you prior to your event.

I do want to point out that this service is not designed to provide users with the binaries for each lab, the labs will still run out of the Hands-on Labs datacenter.  We are providing what can best be described as a kit.   The kit includes documented best-practices and troubleshooting assistance, templates to send to attendees and other helpful guides to ensure success at your event.

If you would like to host your own event, just fill out the following form at http://www.vmware.com/go/holinabox.  At the end of the form, there is an option to meet with us to discuss the requirements.  If this is your first event, I would recommend reviewing the requirements to ensure success at your event.

Rick Terlep

What else is coming up for Hands-on Labs in a Box?  Between VMworld San Francisco and Partner Exchange, we will also start to build out our Experts Community.  These will be individuals you can utilize (based on their availability) to lead the Expert-led Workshops in your area.  We will have separate section on the Hands-on Labs Community page (hol.vmware.com) that will list the individual, what their specialty is, the best way to contact them and where they are geographically.  While we cannot schedule these resources for you, we are more like match.com!  We will help provide the connection.

We hope to see you at VMworld in the Labs and look forward to helping you host your own event!

VMworld 2014 Hands-on Labs Guide

Explore latest VMware Products take a Hands-on Lab - FREE VMWARE TRAINING

To help you better prepare for VMworld this year and get the most out of your lab session, we have put together the VMworld 2014 Hands-on Labs Guide.  It lists out the labs that will be available during VMworld, broken down by Software Defined Datacenter, Mobility, Hybrid Cloud and Partner Labs.  Under each lab, we have also listed the individual Modules, with the estimated time to complete it, whether the Module is Beginning or Advanced content, and if it is a Feature or Use Case type Module.

Hopefully this guide will help you maximize your time in the Hands-on Labs and at VMworld.  We’ll see you in the labs!



Win Cool Prizes at VMworld just by taking Labs!


Would you like to win a new laptop, a GoPro Hero or iPod Nano?  Hands-on Labs and CloudCred are teaming up at VMworld to reward you for doing something you already love doing, taking Labs!  By signing up for CloudCred and completing Labs, you will have the opportunity to win these and other exciting prizes.

If you are not familiar with CloudCred, it is a way to build your cloud expertise, broaden your professional network and reward you at the same time.  You earn points by performing tasks that help show off your cloud skills or bring you up to speed on things you may not be familiar with.  You can then turn those points into rewards, like CloudCred merchandise, a 3D printer or other electronic gadgets.  CloudCred runs year round, but the team is creating special tasks just for this year’s Hands-on Labs at VMworld.  You can find out more about CloudCred and sign up for an account at their website:


Once you are at VMworld and have completed a lab, a new screen will popup asking you to take a survey, but you will also see a QR and verification code to signify that you have completed the task.  All you need to do is scan the QR code and it will take you directly to the CloudCred task for the lab where you can then enter the verification code to complete the task.  The verification code is unique to you and the lab you have completed.  Also, in order for the lab to count, you will need to spend a minimum of 20 minutes in it.  If you don’t have a smartphone with you, just write down the code and enter it in when you have access to a computer.

CloudCred QR

While you can sign up for a CloudCred account at VMworld, I would suggest signing up beforehand and getting a group of colleagues to create a team.  Teams are one of CloudCred’s other great features and it lets you challenge other teams to complete tasks.  At VMworld, we will have Team Challenge tasks.  You can challenge another team and whoever completes the task first, gets all the points!


The CloudCred team will has created a ‘World’ just for the Hands-on Labs at VMworld, including our own leader-board and we will be giving away prizes to the daily leaders.  You can find the lead-board all throughout the conference on the  jumbo-trons and in the Hands-on Labs.  We will also be randomly selecting users in the lab each day to give away prizes, too.  While you may not be at the top of the leader board, you will still have an opportunity to win!

While you are at the show, be sure to check out the ClouCred booth in the Solutions Exchange.  They will have more information about the program and be able to answer your questions.

If you have never taken a lab before, now is a great time to do so.  Sign up for an account today and we’ll see you in the Labs!

Heads up Maintenace Window August 9th 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM PST











We are getting ready for VMworld 2014 Hands-on Labs and need to do some maintenance across all of our datacenters and NEE tenants this weekend.

Many thanks to the NEE and OneCloud teams for working long hours and over the weekend !

When: Saturday August 9th

Time: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM PST

All labs will be down for maintenance.

Hands-on Labs: Differential Replication

blocksForgive me. It has been more than six weeks since my last post. To make up for it, this post is pretty long, weighing in at around 3,000 words. On the plus side, you only need to read all of those words in the example code output you’re really interested.

Part of the reason I have been slacking on the blog front is that our team has been working to get our new content and infrastructure built, upgraded and ready for all of you to enjoy at the VMworlds this year. We have some pretty exciting new labs in coming, as well as a some of VMworld sessions about how we run things and how some people are using our labs: INF1311 - Deploy and Destroy 85K VMs in a week: VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage and SDDC2277 - A New Way of Evaluating VMware Products and Solutions – VMwareHands-on Labs

Got Bandwidth?

There are some cases when you have plenty of bandwidth between your source and target, and other times when that is just not possible. Sill, the data must go through! So, if bandwidth between clouds is on the lower end, or if we are refreshing a version of an existing vPod, our second replication mechanism using rsync may save us quite a bit of time.

It has been said in a variety of different ways that the best I/O is the one you don’t need to do – that is especially true for moving data over great distances and/or via low-bandwidth connections. For the 2013 content year, as we developed this solution we transferred our base vPods using the LFTP method, then used the base pods as “seeds” for an rsync differential replication.

This solution is a combination of the right tools and the right process. Either one used in isolation would not provide us as much benefit as using them together. I know it sounds a bit gestalt and maybe a little cheesy, but I hope you see what I mean when you read through this post.  Continue reading

Experience Horizon 6 with View today

We are excited to announce that the first lab in the 2014 Hands-on Labs content catalog is the Horizon 6 with View Introduction.


VMware Horizon 6 with View is an important product release that brings advanced features to your end-user experience. As the first release in the 2014 Hands-on Labs development cycle, HOL-MBL-1451 brings exciting new content in real time with the general availability release of the Horizon 6 with View product. Be the first to experience Horizon 6 with View and see how your applications and desktops can be unified in a single workspace.


Ready to get started? Launch your own Horizon 6 with View lab experience:



Only interested in browsing the lab manual? Explore the content:


Connect with other interested HOL users and discuss Horizon 6 with View:


More Details

You can read all about the Horizon 6 with View release over at the Horizon Tech Blog. Enjoy!


We are looking forward to an exciting VMworld 2014 and cannot wait to share the rest of the labs with you. Be sure to check in regularly at hol.vmware.com for the latest VMware Hands-on Labs news and features.

Backstage Pass Session #4 – Project NEE & OneCloud – Delivering Hand-On Labs at Cloud Scale

A peek at what it our dashboard look like

A peek at what our monitoring dashboard looks like  during VMworld – Join us for this Webinar on How Project NEE works and how the OneCloud Team operate the Hands-on Labs Infrastructure.

Wednesday June 4th 2014
Time: 9:00 AM PDT
Length: 60 minutes+ depending on questions
In this session we will have the guys from the ProjectNEE team and OneCloud walk us through the architecture and go into details on how we manage our infrastructure.
The first part of this session we will cover details on Project NEE. The second part of the session will go into OneCloud – our internal Cloud infrastructure service. The OneCloud team will discuss how they use the vCloud Suite – vCenter Operations Manager, vCenter Log Insight and various tools.  This is a great session for folks interested in learning how we run and operated our infrastructure and a great opportunity to ask questions.
- What is ProjectNee
- What is OneCloud
- Solving the Delivery Problem
- Operating Cloud at Scale
- Questions and answers
This meeting will be recording for folks that cannot attend.
Our Speakers:
Michael DiPetrillo  – Principle Architect – Co Creator of Project NEE
Brian Smith – Director One Cloud Operations

PDF and MP3 Now Available…

Hands-on Labs: Seeding the Clouds

This is the first part of a post that I have been promising for quite some time. We have large amounts of data that we need to replicate to many locations. For the 2013 Hands-on Labs “season,” we used two methods to move our data. One of them is generally applicable while the other is more specialized and tailored to our use case.

In this post, I will cover the more general use case because that process is used when we must “seed” a new cloud. I think the more specific use case is the more interesting of the two cases, but we will need to save that for the next post.

Continue reading

Back up ! Uplanned Maintenance – (Extra large fingers at work)

Many thanks to our OneCloud guys – service is back up and humming along – please let us know if you run into any issue…


VMware Hands-on Labs Team


We are experiencing some unplanned downtime this morning – we were migrating our storage over and ran into some issues with the size of our fingers (fat fingers)

Will keep you guys posted on updates – the guys are working hard to get the service back up and appreciate your patience..

Please follow us on twitter for short message updates -


Backstage Pass Session #3 – Performance Tuning Hands-on Labs VMworld

Joshua Schnee at VMworld checking on our HOL Performance

Jon S. asking Joshua  S. about our HOL Cloud Performance VMworld 2013 San Francisco CA

Backstage Pass Session #3 – Performance Tuning Hands-on Labs VMworld

This session will discuss how we tested and tuned our Datacenters for optimal performance. Josh will discuss the tools he used to test our multiple clouds and Joey will go into details on the infrastructure we have deployed and our planning for VMworld. This is a great session for folks getting ready to roll out their Clouds and a great opportunity to ask questions.

Date: Wednesday May 7th, 2014

PDF + MP3 is available now