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New link for the vCloud Air Hands-on Labs

New Link for VMware vCloud Air Hands-on LabsFriends,

Just a quick update we have moved the vCloud Air Hands-on Labs to a new site. Please note you will need to use your myvmware login to access the labs.

The new link: http://vcloud.vmware.com/explore-vcloud-air/try-cloud-computing-hol

Thanks much and enjoy your labs !

Continuing our efforts in raising awareness for Women in Technology – VMware Hands-on Labs


VMware Hands-on Labs team supporting local She ++ event in Mt. View CA


Just wanted to call out one of the things we strongly believe in is raising awareness around women in technology, and more importantly, helping those who are just getting started in their college and work careers.

Recently, an opportunity to make an impact on supporting women in technology came up with she++ Gala event held at the Computer History Musuem in Mountain View, CA. The she++ event encouraged “all ages and level of experience or aspiration in technology” to attend. Some of the event highlights were she++ high school fellows’ and college ambassadors’ projects featured, eight companies demonstrating their technology and the opportunity to mingle with industry mentors and students.

Our VMware Hands-on Labs team jumped at the chance to volunteer building awareness around VMware’s technology and the VMwomen Initiative. During the event we showcased the Hands-on Labs and explained how easy it is to learn about our products and the problems we solve. Tina W, Anita K , Pablo R and Joey D spoke with folks new to the industry to provide a sense of what VMware does and the problems we solve for the planet, such as reducing datacenter footprint and accelerate business utilizing our Cloud solutions.

So our message for women thinking about going into a technology field, Consider and Explore. You may find a rewarding career in solving real problems with technology and better yet, work with smart, inspirational people.

Additionally, a Big Thanks goes out to Chris Romano who started the awareness effort and special thanks to Tina Walsworth, Anita Kapadia and Kristen Taylor for helping us design and execute on the she ++ Event.

Explore VMware Products – Take a Hands-on Lab – and join the High Technology Industry.

VMware Hands-on Labs Team

Hands-on Labs Spring Release and vForum Online Spring 2016

How we put our Software Defined Data Center through its paces (and terrified our Architects)

On April 19, 2016, our team hosted Hands-on Labs at the VMware Americas vForum Online Event. This event had over 17,000 registered attendees and featured some of the new and newly-updated labs that are part of our 2016 spring release. With an attendee base nearly the size of a VMworld event, this was a nontrivial undertaking.

We wanted to share with you an peek into how we provided and released the latest Hands-on Labs at this massive online event. If you work in a datacenter and appreciate the challenges of capacity management, this may be particularly interesting to you. At the end of the post, I will highlight the new labs we have released. I think we have some new content that is exciting enough to release outside of our typical release cycle.

Continue reading

The New VMware Hands-on Labs Dashboard

Keep track of our progress


We had a few moments in between our releases and wanted to share with you a little dashboard we put together to help us keep track of how things are going.

Loads of exciting items to track (I think this might apply mostly to HOL geeks like ourselves but just in case you are interested) Left to Right.

  1. Number of Active users – this refers to users who have created an account and actually have taken a lab.
  2. Total Labs Deployed – this is mostly a testament of the infrastructure the teams have put together. We are past 1/2 million labs deployed, or 6 million Virtual Machines since Jan 2013.
  3. Active Concurrent Users – This is as it implies – number of users actively taking a lab. What I really love about this gauge is that it is active all day long – to us this means our users from around the globe are using our service
  4. HOL in a Box Events – This is from our HOL in a Box request calendar that shows events coming up. If you are not aware you too can request capacity for your small training event. http://vmware.com/go/holinabox
  5. Top Trending Labs – Active Users – This is a real time feed of the popular labs at the moment, the number to the right indicates the number of users taking that lab.
  6. Current Visitor Map – Its nice to see users around the globe taking our labs

We hope you like our Dashboard – Please do send us any feedback.


VMware Hands-on Labs Team

Call for Partner Hands-on Labs Ideas


Do you have a brilliant idea that would showcase a Partner solution alongside a VMware product or Solution?

This week we kicked off our Partner submission process for the next round of Hands-on Labs for delivery at VMworld US 2016. You can review the Frequently Asked Questions about this year’s program here.  We are accepting submissions for Partner content that complements a VMware Solution and would be a good fit to show in a lab. Typically, we get a good response from our Technology Alliance Partners and OEMs, but the process is open to everyone.

In this upcoming development cycle, one change in the Hands-on Lab program is that all Partner related content will be shown alongside the VMware solution it relates to.  This approach offers better exposure to our Partners and allows Customers to find Partner solutions they may have been unaware of in the past.  It also allows the Hands-on Labs to offer a broader range of Partner related content relevant to VMware solutions.

To get started, you will want to fill out the Lab Module Proposal form here.  If you would like to review some good examples of submissions, you can find them here and here.  Once you have completed the Lab Module Proposal, you will need to submit it by Friday, February 19th  to the Hands-on Labs Idea Registry for consideration in this upcoming development cycle.  Once the idea is submitted, it will be reviewed and presented to the appropriate VMware Business Unit for consideration.

Another change in this year’s cycle is that the development work will be done by VMware employees that are experienced in developing and building these labs.  If your idea is selected, you will act as what we call in the Hands-on Labs, a Content Lead.  You will help guide the Partner related content to be delivered in the lab, but will not have to be responsible for developing it.  Partners can still guide the direction of their content, but won’t have to struggle to come up to speed on our development process and tools.  Given the tight schedule for delivery of these labs at VMworld, we see this as a huge gain for Partners.

You can find the replay of the Partner Townhall meeting here along with the slides presented.  If you are a Partner with access to PartnerLink, you can find more information and ask questions in our group, Partner Hands-on Labs Community.

We will be finalizing the Hands-on Labs catalog for 2016 on February 29th and will be notifying Partners that have been selected.

Best of luck!

VMware Hands-on Labs Releases and Naming

Hello and welcome to 2016! We have seen quite a few questions from people having trouble finding our older labs, so I wanted to take a few minutes and explain the VMware Hands-on Labs release and naming conventions.

Our major release of labs occurs annually at the VMworld conferences, but, depending on product release schedules and resource availability, some labs will be refreshed in the April/May timeframe. Continue reading

Please, Sir, I Want Some More (Time)

OliverIf you have taken one of our labs at a large event like a VMworld, vForum, or VMUG, you may recall that we provide 90-minute lab sessions so that everyone has a chance to experience the labs. If nobody is waiting in line, users may continue their sessions by requesting a time extension from the lab staff before their lab session expires.

When we publish these labs via our online portal, we configure longer session times based on lab popularity, demand and the capacity we have available, but there is no lab staff constantly monitoring the online labs to handle realtime extension requests.

As I have outlined in other posts, our labs are designed to be consumed in small chunks, and most users spend less than an hour in the lab at a time. However, we receive a good deal of feedback from users who would prefer to sit for several hours at a time and work their way through an entire lab manual. We understand that different people work in different ways, so we are piloting a new self-service model for lab time extensions to address this request.

This feature enables our users to self-extend their lab time in 1 hour increments to continue working within the same lab environment for an extended period.

How Do I Use It?

Prior to running out of time in your lab, click on the Extend button under the lab title and the system will request an additional hour to be added to your lab session.

HOL-ExtendThat’s it!

Try it out and let us know what you think by joining the Time Extension thread in the HOL section of the VMware Communities.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your labs.



Take a Lab in your own language: New Localized Lab Manuals Available

We are delighted to announce the first set of lab manuals translated to serve our Hands-on Labs global audience. Click here for instructions on how to change your language in the Hands-on Labs portal.



You may have noticed the new badges next to the lab entries in the Hands-on Labs portal.  These indicate what language the lab manual is available in.  From the picture above, these represent English, Latin American Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese and Simplified Chinese, respectively.  In the Hands-on Lab portal, you can also click on of these badges to see all the labs that are available in that language.

By clicking on one of these language badges, you can bring up a listing of all the labs available in the selected language?


In this case, we have selected the ‘ja’ badge for Japanese language labs.  A new window will pop up showing you all the labs available in the selected language.


If you would like more details on a lab, you can click the lab title link and be brought to the full lab description and enroll in the lab if you wish.  Because a lab could be listed in multiple catalogs, you may see it listed more than once, like in the example above.  It is OK to click either link to take the lab, they are both the same.

We have also made available PDF and HTML versions of the manuals.  You can use the table below to download or view them.  You can also click the Lab SKU & Name in the table to be taken directly to the lab.

 LAB SKU & NAME Japanese Korean brazilian
HOL-CHG-1965 – vSphere 6 Challenge Lab PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-HBD-1681 – VMware vCloud Air – Jump Start for vSphere Admins PDF / HTML
HOL-HBD-1684 – VMware vCloud Air – Disaster Recovery PDF / HTML
HOL-HBD-1686 – VMware vCloud Air – Data Services PDF / HTML
HOL-MBL-1651 – Advanced Technical Concepts of Horizon 6 PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-MBL-1652 – Delivery and Management of the Transforming Desktop PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-MBL-1656 – Horizon Air – Explore and Manage PDF / HTML
HOL-MBL-1657 – AirWatch – Introduction to Basic MDM and Console Customization PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-SDC-1607 – HOL-SDC-1607 From Beginner to Advanced Features with PowerCLI PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-SDC-1608 – What’s New with Virtual SAN 6.2 PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-SDC-1610 – Virtualization 101: vSphere with Operations Management 6 PDF / HTML PDF / HTML PDF / HTML
HOL-SDC-1621 – vRealize Automation 101: Application and Infrastructure Delivery PDF / HTML
HOL-SDC-1628 – Introduction to EVO:RAIL PDF / HTML
HOL-SDC-1635 – vRealize Log Insight PDF / HTML PDF / HTML

Check back for future updates as we localize more labs for you!

Partner Integrated Solution Labs Released

As we wind things down, I wanted to do a special release of labs created by our Partners showcasing how their solutions integrate with VMware.  This year, we had four labs created by EMC, Palo Alto, Dell and NetApp.  These Partner did a fantastic job working the same late hours our own VMware staff did creating this awesome content.

EMC palo alto dell netapp

These labs focus on how their storage or networking solutions compliment NSX, Virtual SAN, Virtual Volumes, vRealize Automation, and even stretched clusters.

HOL-PRT-1671 Self-service data protection using the EMC Plugin for vRealize Automation and Avamar
HOL-PRT-1672 Deploying Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security Platform with VMware NSX
HOL-PRT-1674 Dell Storage presents Virtual Volumes, vSphere Metro Stretched Cluster and more
HOL-PRT-1675 NetApp & VMware Automation: Seamlessly Provision and Recover Tier-1 Applications

I believe that wraps things up!  A big thank you to our staff (VMware and Partners) that helped create this content for you.  Now on to VMworld Europe in Barcelona!

Time, Resources, and Modularity

“There is not enough time provided to complete all of the steps in the manual!”time-up-businessman-holding-sandglass-hourglass-looking-realise-s-nearly-deadline-45081255

This is perhaps the most common bit of feedback we receive about the VMware Hands-on Labs. For the past few years, we have been working on ways to optimize resource utilization. One of these optimizations has been consolidation and sharing of lab environments.

What does that mean? Let’s look at our wildly popular NSX labs for an example. Rather than having 13 individual “labs” that showcase our NSX product, we have two lab environments available. We pair each environment with a manual containing multiple modules. This provides a consolidation of sorts: lab modules are written to use the same underlying lab environment.

In the case of NSX, we have split the modules into two groups: Introduction and Advanced. It makes sense to leave certain aspects of the lab environment unconfigured for the Introduction because a big part of learning is performing the configuration. In the Advanced environment, we assume that the student already knows how to perform basic configuration and those tasks have already been performed.

The set of basic modules became the Introduction to NSX lab (HOL-SDC-1603), while the Advanced content became the NSX Advanced lab (HOL-SDC-1625). There are other labs that contain NSX-related content, but you get the idea.

By design, each lab module is independent, and should require between 15 and 90 minutes to complete. If you like, you can think of each module as a “lab” that shares a “lab environment” with related labs. The net result for us is that we save on resources. From your side, you don’t need to wait for a new environment to deploy in order to move on to the next lab. Rather, you deploy once and have a set of labs to choose from. Only switching environments or rolling back the current one requires a redeployment.

You can jump to any module in the manual and start from there — WITHOUT going back to perform tasks in previous modules.

Use this information to plan your lab experiences: each time you complete a module, think of it as reaching a checkpoint, restore or respawn point in a video game. The same idea applies: you do not need to repeat that effort unless you want to do so. These are also good places to remember to get up and stretch your legs or grab a cup of coffee.

We list each module with its estimated completion time in the Table of Contents. We try our best to make the estimates reasonable, but each person learns at a different pace. Hitting those times is neither a goal nor an assessment of your proficiency, simply a number to help you plan your session time. This is not a test. Feel free to take the labs as many times as you like!VLP_TOC


The new VMware NSX Advanced lab (HOL-SDC-1625) manual contains 7 modules with a total estimated 3.5 hours of content. We usually provide 90-minute sessions at our events (VMworld, vForum, VMUG) and 3-4 hours via the public portal.


Eating the Elephant

If I were to take this lab, I would make it a goal to complete module 1, and maybe module 2 in my first sitting. That is about 90 minutes of content, and more than enough for me to try and consume during my first foray into Advanced NSX.

If I get to Module 3, great. If not, though, I can simply jump straight to that module the next time I get into the lab. Sure, if I log in later today or tomorrow, or next week, it will not be the exact same instance of the lab environment I was working in, but it will be a fresh copy from the same template and the exercises in Module 3 will not require that I complete Modules 1-2 before beginning work.

Our intent is not for you to work through every module in a lab manual in one sitting.

In fact, we have found that users are generally able to spend about an hour at a time in a lab — even when they are taking labs at large events like VMworld. Phone calls, meetings, and life in general tend to get in the way of marathon lab sessions. Besides, the ergonomics people say that you should get up and take a break once in a while — at least 5 minutes each hour.

So, next time you open one of our labs and see that there are 90 minutes on the clock and 598 pages (!!!) in the manual, don’t worry. This isn’t a test. It simply means that you have a LOT of choices related to the topic that you chose. Open the Table of Contents and see what interests you… and feel free to skip anything that you don’t care about, too!

I hope that helps you all understand our thinking and how we have chosen to structure our content.

Enjoy your labs.