Classroom Labs with Azure Lab Services
In digital economy, customers are struggling to build and keep the talent pool to develop digital assets to meet their business demands and stay competitive in the market place. To improve employees’ skillset, customers often arrange trainings by internal experts or third-party vendors. Based on our experiences facilitating workshops to Microsoft customers, we have seen customers spending a significant amount of time setting up the lab environment, and in some cases they asked us to reschedule trainings because the environment was not ready. In some cases, they have asked us to go ahead without the labs. To set up the lab using on-perm infrastructure is complicated, time consuming, and the resources available might not be enough to meet all the lab requirements. It also takes time and effort to maintain the on-perm infrastructure.
With the Azure Lab Services, customers can quickly set up classroom labs for its employees to gain practical experience not only with the latest technologies, but also with their internal and external business applications. Classroom labs can also be used for hosting hackathons as it applies to any workload that needs on-demand temporary environments.
Currently, customers can set up two types of labs with Azure Lab Services, DevTest Labs and managed labs. The only type of managed lab that is supported at this time is Classroom Lab. Classroom Lab is managed by lab administrators and lab owners who can control the lab environment by setting up overarching policies to operate the lab in a cost-effective manner.
Benefits of using Classroom Labs:
The following list provides the benefits of using Classroom Labs in Azure:
- Setting up is quick and easy – Using Classroom Labs, lab owners (trainers) can quickly set up the labs to meet their learning needs as the Lab Services takes care of all the Azure infrastructure work for managed labs. The Classroom Labs also let lab owners to self-manage and customize the lab environment.
- Simplified Experience for the Lab User – A lab user (training attendee) can quickly register to the lab, start the VM, and do the labs.
- Cost optimization – A lab owner can set lab schedules to automatically shut down and start up virtual machines. The lab owner can set a schedule to specify the time slots when the lab’s virtual machines are accessible to users, set usage policies per user or per lab to optimize cost, and analyze usage and activity trends in a lab.
- Scalability and Resiliency– As the capacity increases, the Classroom Labs provides built-in scaling and resiliency of infrastructure for labs that the service manages for you.
Setting up classroom lab environment in the Azure cloud
You can find this service by searching for ‘Lab Accounts’ in the Azure portal. Typical work flow of using classrooms in Azure Lab Services is as follows:
- A lab administrator sets up a lab account in the Azure portal. For step-by-step instructions, see the following article on docs.micrsoft.com: Set up a lab account.
- A lab owner (trainer) sets up a lab for the training within the lab account. For step-by-step instructions, see the following article: Set up a classroom lab.
- A lab user (training attendee) registers to the lab using the registration link that the lab owner (trainer) provides. Then, the user connects to the VM in the lab to complete their training. For step-by-step instructions, see the following article: Access a classroom lab.
As we mentioned above, the Classroom labs are easy to set up and provide a resource-effective solution for companies to set up hands-on lab environment for training. As an example, the cost for Instance that contains 42 Lab units with 4 core(s), 8GB RAM, for 160 hours usage costs about $80. Use the following calculator to estimate the cost based on your requirements.
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