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Hands-on Networking & Security Labs on Demand

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Information and Network Security

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.835.1 - 26.835.15



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Paper Authors


Emil H Salib James Madison University

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Professor in the Integrated Science & Technology Department at James Madison University. Current Teaching - Wire-line & Wireless Networking & Security and Cross Platform Mobile Application Development.
Current Research - Mobile IPv6 and Design for Motivation Curriculum

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Ryan Lutz James Madison University

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Hands-on Networking Lab on Demand (HoNetLanD)Virtualization is one of the most effective ways to increase efficiency, boost productivity andreduce expenses in an enterprise environment through the deployment of a platform such asVMware vSphere Suite. In academic classroom, virtualization has also been also adopted in theform of a standalone desktop application such as VWware Workstation, Microsoft Hyper-V,Virtualbox, and QEMU to name a few. However, these standalone arrangements require a largeamount of resources to be available on each of the workstation in our networking and securitylab. Also, these demands constant update to the software and upgrade to a large number ofworkstations. This environment is not the most efficient and even sometimes wasteful. There aretimes that a student will need the full extent of the computing power that is available at theirworkstation, but there is also more time that is spent with the workstations sitting idle, unable tobe shared amongst other students in or outside the lab facility.To address the efficiency and wastefulness issues of the networking and security lab at ouruniversity we have decided to use the VMware vSphere software suite that is typically deployedin enterprise operational environments. However, the issue with vSphere is that it lacks some ofthe basic functionality that is readily available on the standalone VMware Workstation software.Also, it limits the ability for each student or group to have their own hardware network interfaceswhen they need to integrate external physical networks with the virtual machines under vSphere.It is true that vSphere suite was not designed to have dynamic networking where each user wouldbe able to control and manipulate multiple VM’s and appliances internal and external to thevSphere Operating System (ESXI). As a result we embarked on an aggressive re-purposing ofthe vSphere suite to take advantage its efficiency, while also increasing its robustness to matchthat of what is available on VMware Workstation in a project known within the department asHoNetLanD (Hands-on Networking on Demand).In this paper, we describe how two senior students and their advisor successfully virtualize thenetworking and security lab without losing any of the functionality that the lab currently has withthe use of VMware Workstation. After many unsuccessful attempts to adapting the vSpherenterprise model suggested by VMware and others, the students gave up on the traditionalarchitecture and creatively developed their own simple architecture. This architecture utilizesreadily available appliances such as Untangle and takes full advantage of the pass-through ofclient hardware interfaces. On trialing the new centralized architecture, the students have foundthe lab experience much more pleasant, and the ability to exercise new network functionality,that was previously not possible, has elevated their creativity to a new level. We anticipate thatthe effort and time required by instructors and system administrators to set up and manage labswill markedly decrease, particularly, with the ability to centrally monitor the classroom progressand the students’ utilization of servers’ resources..

Salib, E. H., & Lutz, R. (2015, June), Hands-on Networking & Security Labs on Demand Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24172

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