If your software training lab requires a custom multi-VM environment with networking elements, you already know that moving to a cloud based model will give you a lot more flexibility. We are seeing a slew of software vendors, particularly networking, security and multi-tier application vendors choose the public cloud as a vehicle to provide on-demand hands-on-labs to their customers for virtual training or even hosted trials/sandboxes that can be accessed online.
Now a little disclaimer here: I work for a technology company called Ravello Systems that offers cloud-based training labs using nested virtualization. But as part of my job I talk to a lot of customers who are in the process of moving their training environments to the public cloud. I find that some customers have really done their homework and they ask all the right questions. In this post I am sharing the questions that the most knowledgeable customers ask us. I will not talk about Ravello’s Training LabCloud solution here but you can read all about it or even start a free trial on our website.
Top questions to ask a virtual training cloud vendor
- What cloud infrastructure are you using for hosting my training environment? (locking into a small custom-built cloud can be risk)
- Do you have cloud regions globally so that students can access a cloud-based training lab in their region instead of suffering network latencies?
- How elastic is your infrastructure - do I need to “reserve” capacity or can I truly spin up hundreds or even thousands of environments on-demand? (particularly when a new version is released and lots of customers, partners and support staff need to be trained quickly)
- Is the pricing model truly usage based or do I need to pay an onboarding fee?
- Does it have a monthly subscription fee even if I don’t have classes in a certain month?
- Does it have any overage charges in case I have a lot more students than I expected?
- How does the pricing compare to top tier clouds ie AWS or Google Cloud pricing?
Ease of use
- What is the time and effort to create my custom/complex training environments in your cloud? (very important if you are currently using VMware and are moving to a new type of infrastructure - this should not be a huge migration effort)
- What are the steps for setting up a new virtual training lab for a new course?
- How do I create hundreds of isolated labs for the hundreds of students in my course? What is the level of built-in automation for classroom-based or virtual and what APIs are provided for me?
- What is the experience for the operations engineer setting up the training lab environment? What is the experience for the trainer? And most importantly what is the user experience for the students?
So there you have it - you can start your conversation with virtual training cloud vendors using these basic questions and you will be off to a flying start in your evaluation process. Good luck and don’t hesitate to reach out to me for an initial chat about training labs in the cloud.