VMworld US 2016 is less than a week away. The Hands-on Labs team cannot wait to connect with everyone in Las Vegas as we unveil our new 2017 content catalog. VMworld attendees are the first to experience the labs that are deployed online throughout the following calendar year. This year is no exception, with over 70 lab topics covering vSphere tech preview material, integration with VMware partner solutions, updated NSX content, new Virtual SAN labs, Airwatch, Horizon and vCloud Air. The VMware Hands-on Labs showcase the power of VMware products and solutions in real time. Be sure to visit the Hands-on Labs, Sunday through Thursday, at VMworld US 2016 in Las Vegas.
If 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.
Try it out and let us know what you think by joining the Time Extension thread in the HOL section of the VMware Communities.
We periodically receive requests from our users and other organizations that are interested in running their own copies of the VMware Hands-on Labs. This request frequently stems from poor network connectivity to our hosting datacenter(s), but several just want to be able to download our labs to run on their own hardware so that they don’t need to be connected to the Internet in order to go through a lab.
While we understand many of the reasons behind these requests, it is challenging for a number of reasons, not the least of which has to do with the fact that our labs are live environments. I hope to address the main issues here while providing some additional insight into what the backend of the labs looked like in 2014. Continue reading →
Forgive 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.
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 →
This is the third post in my series on Hands-on Labs behind the scenes. You can find the previous post on comparing cloud catalogs here.
To date, my biggest problem with synchronizing data between vCD instances has been the time required to export vApp templates from one cloud and import them into another. If you want to preserve vApp structure and (most) metadata, there is really only one way into or out of a vCD cloud. Simply having the VMDKs and VMX file from the backend vSphere is not enough. For those who have had to deal with these mechanisms on a regular basis, you know what I mean.
A vPod containing our base infrastructure for VMworld 2013 development looked something like the following. Most of our final vPods are quite a bit larger than this, but this is a pretty standard starting point.
This post is part 2 in a series on the backend processes we use to manage the Hands-on Labs. The first part is available here.
Before I get into the guts of handling export, replication and import, I think it is important to understand how to identify which templates we need to work with. Sure, starting from scratch is simple: you have a bunch of templates in cloud A that you need to replicate to cloud B. Typically, that is going to take quite a bit of time. The problems involved with initial transfer to the cloud are similar to those encountered when standing up a new DR facility. Namely, how do you “seed” the DR site with the data from production. Shipping a box of tapes and performing a restore is often the least expensive option, but may not provide what you expect if your data change rate is high. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post, but I can come back around to it if there is enough interest.
Back to the topic at hand. Once we have a set of clouds that host our content, we need to ensure that the templates available in each cloud are the same. As we revise our content, we check in new versions with new names. Each of our labs have a “Lab Code” or “SKU” that we use to identify them internally. For example, our wildly popular NSX lab has a SKU of “HOL-SDC-1303,” which is easier to track than the full name, “VMware NSX Network Virtualization Platform.” The first template for this lab might be called HOL-SDC-1303-v1. When we make a change to that lab, we check it in as HOL-SDC-1303-v2, then HOL-SDC-1303-v3, and so on. This is a rather simplistic practice, but it serves its purpose. Continue reading →
The wait is over. The VMware NSX for vSphere Lab (HOL-SDC-1303) has arrived. You consumed over 2,000 sessions of this lab, totaling 124,000 lab minutes during the four days of VMworld. That is roughly equivalent to locking yourself in a room with your laptop and doing nothing but take this lab 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for three months straight. Creepy . . . 🙂
We are bringing additional NSX content to the online portal as well as the remaining labs in the Mobility catalog. This is a big day of HOL goodness! Enjoy.
A Tech Preview of the exciting new VMware NSX for vSphere product announced at VMworld. Learn how VMware NSX virtualizes your network and simplifies your datacenter. This lab is currently based on a beta version of code and you may encounter some user interface issues during the lab exercises. The lab will be improved with newer code as the product moves closer to release. For now, brave the rapids, jump in with both feet and have a go at at VMware NSX, the premier solution for Network Virtualization.
VMware Horizon View is changing the way desktop computing is delivered. These use cases, drawn from real-world experience, clearly demonstrate the inherent value within the Horizon View solution. If you are curious as to what ways Horizon View is actually used today, this lab provides excellent examples.
HOL-MBL-1304 – Horizon Workspace – Explore and Deploy
Hours of new content have been added to this refresh of the successful 2012 Horizon Workspace lab. This is a phenomenal opportunity to experience Horizon Workspace for the first time. Log in and try it out!
Today we are excited to announce that we have released the first four labs from the 2013 Hands-on Labs Content catalog to the HOL Online portal. These four labs were among the most popular at our 10th Annual VMworld US show last week in San Francisco. They demonstrate some of the most talked about new products and features in networking, storage, performance and mobility.
Click on the lab icon or the link below each lab description to enroll and begin your VMware Hands-on Labs Online session. To connect to the HOL Online portal in general, please use http://labs.hol.vmware.com/
HOL-SDC-1302 – VSPHERE DISTRIBUTED SWITCH FROM A TO Z
Explore features of the vSphere Distributed Switch from beginning to advanced perspectives. There are modules that explore QoS and ERSPAN and others that provide a basic introduction to the vSphere Distributed Switch. If you want to explore vSphere networking, this is your lab.
The vSphere Performance lab is a perennial favorite and this year is no exception. There is content for all levels of expertise and multiple tracks through the lab. The optional modules at the end allow you to customize your lab experience around topics of interest to you. Be sure to take the lab more than once so that you can experience all of the modules.
VMware Virtual SAN pools compute and direct-attached storage resources and clusters server disks and flash to create resilient shared storage. This idea is so cool, you just have to see it in action! Get your first taste of this exciting new technology in this Hands-on Lab, then visit vmware.com to sign up for the free beta.
VMware Horizon View is changing the way that companies manage their desktop systems. This lab includes a beginning-level guided tour module as well as advanced troubleshooting and optimization content. See what all of the buzz is about and try out Horizon View.
Over the next few weeks, we will continue a phased rollout of the 2013 VMware Hands-on Labs. With each release, be sure to take labs that you may have missed at VMworld or something outside of your core competency. We build these labs for you. It is our privilege to present them to you and join in the conversation around VMware products and solutions.
Continue to watch these blog pages for future lab release announcements, follow us on twitter @VMwareHOL and participate in the online community at http://hol.vmware.com/