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Virtual Computer Lab

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Maggie Carroll

on 13 March 2014

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Transcript of Virtual Computer Lab

Current Informatics Environment for lab courses

Has a lot of History using computers
Let's go back to 1982
Climb into the Back to the Future DeLorean...
Climb into the “BACK to the Future” Delorean and

Travel back to 1982

1 Drexel University: College and University Computing Environment; From Cause/Effect, 8, 5 (1985) page 28-30

…Drexel became one it the first universities in the country to introduce a formal microcomouter requirement … every entering student would need access to a microcomputer.
…Drexel President William W. Hagerty stated: “The freshmen now entering Drexel will spend the greater portion of their professional lives in the 21st century in an environment in which the computer will be a everyday, even commonplace tool.
In every field of endeavor the successful practitioner will utilize computer technology in order to understand and deal with the challenges of everyday life.”1

Drexel’s microcomputing program

Return to the present...
51 % of servers are now virtual servers
Normal practice in industry
Virtualize 75 % of the total servers in an enterprise
VMware, (consider the source here)
Recommends virtualizing 90% of your servers in medium and large environments
Has a Cloud director product being adopted by industry
Many Drexel students will design, build and use virtual servers after graduation


VCL is a free, open source cloud computing platform with the primary goal of delivering dedicated, custom compute environments to users.2
VCL supports provisioning of both virtual machines and physical bare-metal machines.
VCL has a self service web portal for requesting virtual machines
VCL was developed to serve Academia

2 definition from vcl.apache.org

VCL - Virtual Computer Lab

Schedule requests
Block Reservations for an entire class
Servers are firewalled by default
Email engine to provide the status of requests to users
Allows users to request additional time with reserved servers
Statistics and Log Data
User Groups using multiple VM’s

VCL Features

Assign user rights 3 basic levels
Student – permitted to check out virtual images
Professor – permitted to manage images: create/ modify and save new virtual images
Administrator – mange users and resource groups, provide base images, mange management nodes
Integrates with Drexel accounts
Supports IRT’s authentication environment

VCL Features

Web Server
Linux Host
Linux Host
Management node
VCLD – Backend process – perl xCAT commands

VCL Infrastructure Components

Use a web browser and this url:
Labs tested to date:
Works for all INFO330 labs
Works for almost all the INFO320 labs (2 will require changes)
Should Work for INFO321 labs (2 will require changes)

VCL Demonstration

Winter Quarter 2014
Capacity for 4-5 simultaneous virtual machines
(2) VM images have been built
Ubuntu Linux Desktop
Windows 7 with Wireshark
Winter INFO330 class
At least 8 students conducted labs virtually
Using their Drexel id’s
Connecting from their own laptops

VCL Efforts at CCI

March of 2013
Met with IBM contacts
Met with North Carolina State University contacts
Summer quarter 2013
Conducted proof of concept using
Drexel INFO320 students
NC State’s VCL environment
November 2014
Built VCL pilot environment at Drexel
Using retired hardware (4 old desktops)

VCL Efforts at CCI

Courses that could use VCL?
Other desired Virtual Machine images?
Potential for CCI wide standard?
Introduce in the Freshman design series
Support satellite campuses
Support for on-line courses

Questions and input

Less software updates to lab machines
Lab exercise questions can be more objective using “expected results” as answers to questions
Allows for labs to evolve to focus on more specific areas of study
Both face to face and on-line students can conduct labs outside the classroom
Provides lecture only courses lab exercises

Instruction Advantages

Lab Classroom 205 equipped with
20 IBM Thinkstation Tower Computers
Powerful machines with 6 core processors
1 Machine for each student
Physical environment for lab/lecture courses
INFO330, INFO331 – Network series
INFO320, INFO321, INFO322 - Server series

Current Informatics Environment for lab courses
Full transcript