Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What is lab content? Managing and maintaining all the disparate pieces.


  WHAT IS LAB CONTENT  ? 
(This blog is a follow on to our recent posting “What is a Computer Lab?”)

Lab content is made up of the following 4 pieces:
  •      Systems
  •      Lab Instructions
  •      Scripts and Programs 
  •      Support
  SYSTEMS 
Computer lab environments include a combination of computers/servers, operating system and application software, memory and storage, internal/external networks and network devices.  Physical systems also require power, space, cooling and management. System resources are physical or a combination of physical and virtual. Virtual system images may also be programmable.  Resources may also be dedicated or shared as in a private or public cloud network.

  LAB INSTRUCTIONS 
Often developed by subject matter experts, lab instructions provide detailed step-by-step system or application level commands that allow a user/student to complete a pre-designed hands-on learning scenario.  Instructions may be in writing (pdf, html) or presented as a video. In either case written instructions are usually accompanied by graphics that allow users/students to stay on track.  In a classroom or at an event, instructors or teachers assistants are often available to answer additional questions that users/students may have.  Lab instructions are often part of a course that also contains lecture content delivered by an instructor or by video.

  SCRIPTS and PROGRAMS
Hands-on labs have a beginning, middle and an end. Users/Students are active participants. Instructions demand user inputs and create system outputs and results. By stepping through a hands-on scenario experiential learning happens. To enhance the lab experience, labs may include scripts and programs that create a pre-populated system/software environment.  Scripts (JSON, CloudFormation) or programs may also automatically add data or resources to a lab giving users/students a real world production environment experience. 

  SUPPORT
Lab environments require support on multiple levels. Users require support when they have a question or if something does not function properly. Labs and lab instructions need to be supported when revisions are required by hardware, software, network or service changes that may require lab updates.  Software, program or script updates may require lab updates.  Physical systems and data centers require support and maintenance to insure availability. Labs delivered worldwide require global support.

  WHAT IS qwikLABS®? 
qwikLABS® is a single public cloud-based platform that liberates hands-on computer lab creation, management and utilization. Used by lab creators, trainers, administrators, coordinators and users/students, qwikLABS® delivers live computer/software labs as a service to users/students anywhere, anytime on any device.
The qwikLABS® platform takes full advantage of public cloud technology, delivering clients a cost effective time to market and scale. The qwikLABS® implementation is designed to solve the complex business problems presented by running a hands-on software lab environment globally.  qwikLABS® platform users are able to manage and control a consistent environment while delivering labs anywhere around the world.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What is a lab?







What is a lab? We get this question all the time.

WHAT IS A COMPUTER LAB  ? 

A computer lab as defined by Wikipedia:

A computer lab is a cluster of computers that usually are networked and available for use by the public. Labs frequently are found in public buildings such as libraries, schools such as colleges and universities Almost all computer labs offer users access to the Internet and provide software that students can use to do research and complete their homework.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_lab

Live computer labs are equipped to teach/learn about real world systems, software and technology; to gain new skills and practice, to do research or homework, to conduct experiments or perform tests.  Computer labs are a place for hands-on learning.  Configured with hardware and software, computer labs are usually protected or restricted within networks to help insure proper usage. Users are normally allowed a limited amount of time to do their work.  As such users must also sign on so that their activities can be traced and monitored if necessary.



WHAT IS a Hands-on Lab? 

Provided by schools, governments or business; in classrooms, at events or online, hands-on labs allow users to gain a live hands-on learning experience working with technology in a safe and secure practice environment. Labs take many different forms, listed below are just a few examples:

Instructor-led Training Labs: labs and lab instructions are provided as part of one to multi day instructor led training classes. Labs are often broken into multi hour blocks to complement course lecture content.

Self-Paced Labs: Labs usually provided online and accessible by users/students anytime along with written or video instructions. Self-paced labs are also often used with token access at events and conferences.


Web-based training labs: Self-paced Labs delivered on-line as part of a full web-based course including lecture/lab instructions and videos.


Project based Labs: Computer/software lab assets made available for an extended period of time. Often provided with written objectives and outcomes.


Open lab environment: Often used by software developers, a sand-boxed environment used for experimentation and testing of software.


Software trial labs:  Labs made available to customers or prospects to try out software products and to explore/experiment with new product features.
Hackathons: A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects. Occasionally, there is a hardware component as well. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software. 

WHAT IS qwikLABS™? 

qwikLABS™ is a single public cloud-based platform that liberates hands-on computer lab creation, management and utilization. Used by lab creators, trainers, administrators, coordinators and users/students, qwikLABS™ delivers live computer/software labs as a service to users/students anywhere, anytime on any device.

The qwikLABS™ platform takes full advantage of public cloud technology, delivering clients a cost effective time to market and scale. The qwikLABS™ implementation is designed to solve the complex business problems presented by running a hands-on software lab environment globally.  qwikLABS™ platform users are able to manage and control a consistent environment while delivering labs anywhere around the world.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

7/29/13 -Jeff Barr AWS Blog Announcing run.qwiklab.com



 We were very excited to be highlighted in Jeff Barr's AWS blog announcing our AWS partnership to deliver authorized AWS self-paced training labs 7x24 around the world! 

 


Please read Jeff's blog:
http://aws.typepad.com/aws/2013/07/learn-aws-with-new-self-paced-labs.html

And please go to:
run.qwiklab.com 







Wednesday, July 31, 2013

qwikLABS powers NVIDIA labs at 2013 GPU Conference








qwikLABSTM was used to power all of the hands-on software training labs during the NVIDIA technical workshops being held at the 2013 GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, CA March 19, 2013. 
 
As we did at the 2012 AWS re:Invent Conference, we were able to take another leap forward  by releasing new qwikLABSTM functionality in the form of two new major features: Hot Labs and Multi-User Labs. These features greatly enhance the student user lab experience and lower the costs of delivering hands-on software training labs.

The Hot Labs feature provides student users with instantaneous access to labs with all of the software and systems pre-configured. The wait time for some complex instances to instantiate can be several minutes and sometimes up to half an hour, if there is a lot of configuration required.  Hot Labs eliminates the wait by allowing a pool of instances to be kept ready for students to grab and start their labs instantaneously.  Having a lot of instances sitting idle waiting for student traffic can be prohibitively expensive. Hot Labs solves this problem by providing fine-grained control over how many live instances to keep in the pool to cover both the initial burst of user activity and the steady state of user demand. 

Multi-User Labs enables students to share the same resources. Because cloud resources are sometimes either expensive or scarce there may be times when you can’t procure the specific quantities you desire.  The Multi-User Labs feature creates a secure sandbox for multiple users on the same instance so that users can share the same resources without affecting other users.  This not only minimizes the cost of the labs by amortizing the instance cost for multiple users but also allows the resources to scale further. 

We are truly excited about the powerful, scalable and flexible qwikLABSTM platform we are creating, securely delivering hands-on software training labs cost-effectively worldwide. This is just the beginning!

We have all heard about the benefits of cloud computing



We have all heard about the benefits of cloud computing
Pay as you go – use only what you need
Elastic consumption – easy solve for peak usage spikes
On demand – always on
Massive scalability – accommodates increased usage over time
Easy on – easy off

Intangible benefits:
Rapid time to market
Worldwide reach
Professional datacenter management and security
Allows customer to focus on core business

Financial benefits:
Opex not Capex
Low cost and ongoing pricing decreases from:
            Aggregated demand
            Raised utilization rates
            Multi-tenant scale
            System management efficiencies

GOT IT! 
How do you do a cost justification to get all of those benefits?

To do a financial comparison you need to start with your current state TCO.
Start with a use case and calculate your total annual costs for that application:

Server hardware $ purchases divided by useful life.
Network hardware $  (x ) an annual percentage of total servers.
Hardware maintenance which is an annual percentage of total server $.
Operating System price $ per server divided by useful life.
Data Center power and cooling…. (Check with your IT dept.).
Administration which is n engineers per n servers (x) n  $ per year.
Data transfer which is n mbps (x)  $Mb per month…  (Check with your IT dept.).

Once you gather this annual $ total, you would need to divide by 12 months and then divide again by the total number of hours of usage per day… which would get you to a total cost per hour. Then compare.

There is a “wealth” of information here:
http://aws.amazon.com/economics/

All Clouds are not created equal







All Clouds are not created equal
Reading up on Cloud Computing recently, we could not miss the marketing hype.  In this everything Cloud world, many vendors are pulling out all of the stops.

Here are some favorite tag lines:
“Build your Cloud from the Ground Up”
“Private Cloud for Dummies”
“Journey to your Cloud”
“Find the Right Cloud at the Cloud Discovery Workshop”
“Are you ready for your Cloud”?

And then there are all of the cloud services:
Cloud Design Services
Cloud Solution Service
Cloud Roadmap Services

And then of course the cloud transformations:
Transforming Cloud Infrastructure
Transforming your mission critical applications
Transforming your business with Cloud


As a consumer of Cloud Services, here is what we look for:

It costs us less than our current state (or avoids cost) and we can get more focus on our core business and better yet redirect our spend and attention to our core business.

The Cloud service not only saves us money, but it is strategic, it makes us money by extending our reach allowing us to touch more customers worldwide.

We get the services we want at the lowest price, with a guarantee on price decreases over time (ie. It will never cost us more than today).

It also  needs to be  simple, really simple for our organization to assimilate and use.

Of course we did not need to be a Cloud Services consumer to know these things. If it saves money –guaranteed—, makes money and is really simple to assimilate and use…Well, when you see it, you know.