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  • February 11, 2016

Virtual training infrastructure: The backbone of hands on labs for ILT & self-paced learning

Virtual training infrastructure is essential for ISVs, for training providers and for enterprises. It is key that this infrastructure will support the nature of the training use case - hands on labs for each student should be easily configured, identical and isolated instances; you should have the ability to spin them up in any geography, and then quickly and easily tear them down. This post demonstrates how three different companies are using Ravello as their virtual training infrastructure to run ILT classes, self-paced trainings and more.

What characterizes a “good” virtual training infrastructure?

There are several key components that should be “deal breakers” when you’re searching for virtual training infrastructure:

  1. Technological fidelity: your training infrastructure should accommodate any and all of the features you have in the environment. If it requires certain networking configurations - you should not need to compromise the quality and fidelity of the environment just to “make the training work”. Training is supposed to expose all the product capabilities and features, so there is no wiggle room here.
  2. Repeatable deployments: the trainer shouldn’t spend valuable time on setting up the same environment again and again every time a class is scheduled. Your training infrastructure should provide for a quick and easy way to save your environment configuration and run it whenever it is needed.
  3. On demand usage: the nature of the training use case is that it’s tough to anticipate the number of environments required in a given class (or timeframe, if it is a self-paced training use case). Your virtual training infrastructure should let you avoid capacity planning and simultaneously enable you to only pay for capacity that is in fact in use (so you don’t buy excess capacity “just in case”).
  4. Accessibility: the virtual training infrastructure should be accessible anywhere in the world. Location should not play a factor in access to or performance of the training lab.
  5. Flexibility: your training infrastructure should “work with you”. If all you need is an easy to use portal to share isolated environments with students - your infrastructure should accommodate that. If you require advanced integration and customization - the infrastructure should allow you as much complexity as your use case requires.

Virtual training infrastructure in action in the real world

Now that we covered the must-haves of your training infrastructure, I thought it might be useful to see some real-life examples of companies using Ravello for their virtual training.

Global partner training with hands on labs

When Red Hat’s Global Partner Enablement (GPE) team learned about Ravello, they were looking for training infrastructure that would allow them to:

  • Expose partners to all the features of their technology and products
  • Be able to scale up and down without the need for capacity planning
  • Deliver best-quality training classes around the globe - regardless of the location of the partner training class
  • Deliver high-volume training very quickly to keep up with development of new products and features - once the training class was designed to be able to repeat it quickly and not spend time setting it up again.

Using Ravello the Red Hat GPE team has full blueprints of multi-node OpenStack, RHEV, RHEL and OpenShift which they can spin up as required. With Ravello’s nested hypervisor, Red Hat can utilize AWS’s capacity and run virtual training labs in any geography, providing on-demand isolated environments for all students, without the need to allocate capacity in advance.

Instructor led end-user training with hands on labs

ROI Training, a leading provider of technical, financial and management training for enterprises around the globe, customizes training classes to suit the needs of their customer organization. Looking for a solution that will allow them to be rid of hardware investments, to move to a usage based cost structure and for student self-service access to virtual labs - ROI Training chose Ravello.

With Ravello ROI Training creates on demand lab environments in the public cloud region that provides the best learning experience for students, without investing in hardware or shipping computers. ROI Training also uses Ravello’s blueprints to essentially create a portfolio of lab environment templates for each course, that can be easily used to spin up multiple copies of the environment on demand. Finally, the usage based model allows ROI Training to enjoy cloud economics - and pay only for the environments that are running, for the resources consumed.

Fully integrated self-paced online security training

Blackfin Security is a leading provider of a full suite of online security training, bringing a hands-on approach to security training, with a self-paced subscription-based security training portal, as well as onsite or on-demand threat simulation events.

With two core requirements of zero changes to the application environments when deploying labs for students, and a high standard for a consistent and coherent user experience for self-paced trainings, Blackfin found they can fulfill their virtual training infrastructure needs by using Ravello to run training labs on AWS or Google Cloud.

Blackfin Enterprises uses Ravello’s REST API to create a new and enhanced self-paced online security training experience for its students. Ravello enables Blackfin to run the VMware based multi-VM applications on Google Cloud and AWS without any modifications to the VMs or the networking configuration.

[video url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8r4W8zwqjg"]

I hope these three examples illustrated how Ravello can meet any virtual training infrastructure requirements that you may encounter in your use case. You can start your trial here and build out your training lab for ILT, self-paced training, hands-on labs and more. Let us know if you have any questions.

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