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My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together
Along with a number of other bloggers I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the VMworld 2010 labs setup today.
Wow, the setup is impressive, there is a massive self-paced labs room in Moscone West, offering 480 multi-lab seats, unlike previous years there are no specific areas for each lab, each workstation is self-contained and connects you your chosen lab from the "Lab Cloud" – which will be much better in managing the load and waiting times for popular labs.
You will have to register at the entrance and your session will be allocated to your badge number, there is a comfortable waiting area whilst you are called forward to do your labs; combined with the fact that each seat can be for any lab this is a great idea for managing foot-fall and waiting times.
There are a number of labs sessions pre-provisioned and ready to go and some will be provided on-demand when you are logged on, the ops team will be keeping a close eye on demand and can dynamically adjust the number of pre-provisioned labs to reduce start-up times for popular labs.
There are also labs upstairs where a subject matter expert (or “lab captain”) will run an audience through a presentation of the lab session and will be able to take Q&A and provide more information on the background.
The lab cloud is a heavily customised Lab Manager/vSphere environment offering up 30 different lab setups – each lab session runs from a dedicated vPod – a group of virtualized ESX, AD, vCenter hosts built from a totally automated template and accessed by a thin-client; making heavy use of virtualized ESX hosts (ala vTARDIS, but on a massive scale :))
The back-end infrastructure providing the lab cloud is split across 3 sites, 2 external DC’s and an on-site facility – the lab is closely monitored and automation deals with distributing load across the 3 facilities with resilience – the same infrastructure will be scaled down and will support VMworld Europe, although VMworld Europe 2010 will only have approx 1/2 the number of self-paced lab seats.
As you’ll see from the picture below the self-paced labs room is large, the podium in the middle is the operations centre where VMware staff co-ordinate and manage the labs environment, statistics will be relayed on realtime on the large projection screens.
Each lab workstation has a help button where you can request help from the on-site subject matter experts, I like this model better as it means the SMEs can be dispatched anywhere in the room to help out whilst allowing the maximum number of seats to be balanced across the available labs "on-demand"
I’d strongly encourage you to check out the labs, remember the normal presentation sessions are audio recorded (keynotes are usually video’d) and slides are available post-VMworld but labs are not, so this is your only chance to go hands-on – although the team know this is high on the list of "wants", the .PDF lab manuals will also be made available for download post-VMworld.
Interesting stat of the day, the environment will be creating/destroying about 5,000 virtual machines per HOUR, and over the course of the week they expect to handle 75-100,000 virtual machine create/destroy operations.