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By Lyubomir Lyubenov, Cloud Service Architect, VMware, and Jeremy Sage, Senior Cloud Site Reliability Engineer, VMware

One of the most popular areas at any VMworld is the Hands-on Lab (HOL), where attendees can test drive VMware technologies without purchasing equipment, software, or licenses. With more than 20,000 attendees in Las Vegas this year, the HOL was a beehive of activity, delivering almost 12,000 labs in five days.

Every year, VMware IT plays a critical role by building and supporting the underlying HOL infrastructure. IT has several performance requirements for the HOL:

  • High performance and very scalable infrastructure
  • Highly resilient and highly available solution
  • Ability to monitor the infrastructure using existing tools
  • Capacity consumable by the VMware Learning Platform
  • Show use of VMware products to manage multiple clouds, including VMware Cloud on AWS and IBM Cloud

This year VMware Hands-on Labs released 85 new labs to its attendees that require flexible clouds. We also increased our use of the public cloud. Last year, VMware Cloud on AWS hosted 20% of the workload. This year, VMware Cloud on AWS handled 40% of the workload, along with the private cloud (50%) and IBM Cloud (10%). In total, the HOL delivered more than 120,000 VMs over five days with 100% uptime.

By adding public cloud capacity, we give up the complete control we have when relying on our private cloud. However, we gain the ability to add or delete large amounts of capacity on demand, often within hours. Clouds such as VMware Cloud on AWS help us easily handle workload spikes and avoid investing in excess capacity.

For example, when VMworld was over, we immediately decommissioned the extra public cloud capacity with a few clicks. Another benefit was that the maintenance and software upgrades were handled by the VMware Cloud on AWS team, saving us significant time and effort. (You can read more about the HOL architecture and design in this blog.)

VMworld 2018 Vegas HOL stats

HOL Highlights

Here are some highlights from the HOL in Las Vegas:

  • Just like last year, the VMware Cloud cluster outperformed our private cloud. VMware Cloud on AWS produced 2.2 million combined IOPS across 72 hosts during performance testing before the show.
  • A beta version of the newly announced VMware Cloud on AWS with EBS (Elastic Block Storage) was showcased.
  • The top five labs included:

The HOL achieved several milestones this year, including delivering 8.6 million GB of storage on vSAN and more than 14,000 NSX logical networks, as shown below.

As the HOL infrastructure evolves, so does our team’s responsibilities. In past labs, we focused on managing our private cloud operations. Now, we are utilizing capacity across multiple clouds and assessing how they interact with the VMware Learning Platform. This presents new challenges that ultimately help us improve HOL operations over time.

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