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A Grid of Online Laboratories Based on the iLab Shared Architecture

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Remote and Network-based Laboratories

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.54.1 - 25.54.7

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Paper Authors


Michael E. Auer Carinthia Tech Institute, Austria

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Since 1995, Michael Auer is professor of electrical engineering at the Systems Engineering Department of the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach, Austria and has also held teaching positions at the universities of Klagenfurt (Austria), Amman (Jordan), Brasov (Romania), and Patras (Greece). He was invited for guest lectures at MIT Boston and Columbia University and technical universities of Moscow, Athens, and others. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and member of VDE, IGIP, etc., author or co-author of more than 180 publications, and a leading member of numerous national and international organizations in the field of online technologies. He is Founder and Chair of the annual international ICL and REV conferences and Chair or member of the program committees of several international conferences and workshops. He is Editor-in-Chief of the international journals of Online Engineering (iJOE,, Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET,, and Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM, Auer is Founding President and CEO of the International Association of Online Engineering (IAOE) since 2006, a non-governmental organization that promotes the vision of new engineering working environments worldwide. In Sept. 2010, he was elected as President of the International Society of Engineering Education (IGIP). Furthermore, he is a member of the Advisory Board of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG).

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Danilo Garbi Zutin P.E. Carinthia University of Applied Sciences

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Danilo Garbi Zutin has graduated in electrical engineering at the State University of Sao Paulo (UNESP), Bauru, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and obtained his master's degree in systems design (specialization in remote systems) at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences in Villach, Austria. His research interests are in the field of remote engineering, online labs, remote control of devices and software development for online labs. Zutin is currently a Senior Researcher and team member of the Center of Competence in Online Laboratories and Open Learning (CCOL) at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS), Villach, Austria, where he has been engaged in projects for the development of online laboratories.
In Jan. 2010, Zutin was appointed Secretary General of the International Association of Online Engineering and in the following year Secretary General of IGIP (International Society for Engineering Education). Garbi Zutin is author or co-author of more than 30 scientific papers published in international journals, magazines, and conferences. Most of these papers are in the field of online laboratories and issues associated with their dissemination and usage.

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A Grid of Online Laboratories Based on the iLab Shared Architecture AbstractActive learning or working by means of online laboratories is especially valuable for distanceworking or education. Users in the workplace can access remote laboratories without having totravel. This flexibility is important for teleworking, education and lifelong learning.The realization of online labs is expensive and partially associated with high administrative efforts.These are reasons, why sharing online lab resources via different universities worldwide is acurrent necessity. Therefore we started at our university together with partners all over the world aproject to establish a network of interconnected iLab Service Brokers in Europe and, in a secondstage, worldwide.The development of the iLab Grid is based on MIT’s iLab Shared Architecture (ISA). ISA is asoftware architecture that offers online laboratory developers and users a common framework forusing and sharing online laboratories. It facilitates managing laboratories and user accounts in ascalable manner. The services offered by ISA are used to provide access control, framing andmaintenance of user sessions for the laboratory.Overall, the iLab Shared Architecture divides an online laboratory into three distinct parts: the LabClient (LC), the Service Broker (SB) and the Lab Server (LS). This clear separation of functions isone of the main advantages of this architecture. Users access a lab via a Service Broker.The main idea of the iLab Grid is to connect more Service Brokers available at differentinstitutions across Europe in such a way that the users of one Service Broker automatically haveaccess to all the experiments available in the network.Three different topologies were examined in detail. The draft paper will briefly present theadvantages and disadvantages of these topologies. Key points are the reliability and easy scalabilityof the network.Reliability refers to when one of the connected Service Brokers is offline. How the overall networkreacts to this factor and, of course, how difficult it is for users to connect if one Service Broker isoffline.From the point of view of the implementation, scalability can be evaluated in the following way:what is the reaction of the entire system if new domains are added to the network and how difficultit is to add a new Service Broker to the Grid?The target topology does not have extra administrators and additional computers to connect theparticipating universities. The main idea is to implement the Grid Architecture and share resourceswithout knowing where the actual experiments are located. If one SB is offline, the rest of thenetwork should function normally. Of course, iLAB is easily scalable, allowing administrators toadd new SBs to the grid, which is a simple process as it does not require additional settings. Thefirst results in implementing the grid are very positive and will be described in detail in the draftversion.

Auer, M. E., & Garbi Zutin, D. (2012, June), A Grid of Online Laboratories Based on the iLab Shared Architecture Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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