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Incorporating Virtual Lab Automation Systems in IT Education

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Information and Network Security

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.856.1 - 22.856.13



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Paper Authors

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Peng Li East Carolina University


John M. Jones East Carolina University

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Instructional Technology Consultant and part-time faculty at East Carolina University.
18 years experience in the computer field.

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Kris Kareem Augustus East Carolina University

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Incorporating Virtual Lab Automation Systems in IT EducationAbstractVirtualization and cloud computing have been rapidly adopted in information technology (IT)education because they provide cost-effective ways of delivering hands-on experiences remotely.The benefits of virtual labs include, but are not limited to, high availability, easy access, lowhardware and maintenance costs and fast content deployment. Different virtual lab approaches,centralized or decentralized, have been tested and implemented in many educational institutions.It is likely more and more IT labs will be hosted in the “cloud” in the near future.Centralized approaches make it possible to deploy complicated virtual labs which require high-end equipment and resources. The virtual machines are often hosted on a virtualizationinfrastructure such as VMware vSphere and managed by a virtualization management tool suchas VMware vCenter. Although vCenter is effective in managing virtual machines and virtualdatacenters, it does not directly provide a user-friendly system for virtual lab customers. Virtuallab automation systems fill the gap, automating and provisioning IT labs using virtualizationtechnology.We have been exploring different virtual lab automation systems, notably Virtual ComputingLab (VCL) and VMware vCenter Lab Manager (VLM) for academic use. VCL is free and opensource while VLM is a commercial product. In some courses, VCL was used exclusively. Insome other courses, VLM was used exclusively. In other courses, VCL and VLM were tested indifferent projects. In this paper, we will discuss our experiences with both systems, the strengthsand weaknesses of both systems and custom virtual environments and virtual labs we developedfor VCL and VLM. We have found that both solutions are effective and complementary.

Li, P., & Jones, J. M., & Augustus, K. K. (2011, June), Incorporating Virtual Lab Automation Systems in IT Education Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18137

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