VMware made an exciting announcement at VMworld 2011 that didn’t get much press or attention. The VMworld labs were slated to be released for customers interested in doing technology previews of our software solutions in early 2012. Notice I didn’t use the term “Proof of Concept” as this implies different things to different people. Proof of concept could have business requirements, technical requirements, or users that are associated to your specific environment. I am happy to report that the “VMware Virtual Customer Labs” (vCL) are now available for **selected customers. I wanted to do a write-up about the vCL, what it is, and how it works as I think this is a unique offering that VMware is providing it’s customers.
What is the vCL?
The vCL is based off VMware vSphere 5, VMware vCloud Director 1.5 along with vCenter Orchestrator for automation. This is something that VMware has been using internally for years called the “vSEL” or the VMware SE Labs. vCL is designed to be a fully automated cloud solution where users can checkout VMware software solutions for 14 days of testing and training/education. The vCL was built around the concepts of saving customers time (manual installs, deployments, infrastructure configuration) and hardware costs as VMware hosts the environment on behalf of our customers.
The Workflow Automation
Automation is part of any cloud solution, if you stop to think about it your really getting a demonstration of vCloud Director along with any of the other labs you check out! Let’s kickoff the backend automation once a customer requests access to a lab environment. In this example I am the customer and I am interested in selecting the SRM 5 environment to test out. As a VMware systems engineer, I login (approval phase) and submit the request to the vCL system.
Below are the vCL options that I am going to configure for the customer, this includes the customer name, which lab they are interested in and basic information like an e-mail address. In this example I am using myself as the customer name to show some of this functionality.
Once I submit my request, I get an automated e-mail (below) indicating that my request has been accepted and the build process has been initiated. As you can see this might take slightly longer than normal as we are delivering full cloned vApps to ensure performance and a great user experience.
Once my environment has completed it’s provisioning process, the customer along with the VMware engineer get an e-mail confirming the build is complete. The e-mail contains the URL for accessing the environment, along with the custom username and password for authentication purposes.
Here comes the exciting part, let’s login! Here is the main splash screen where I authenticate with my credentials I received in the previous step. Note you need to accept the VMware EULA to access the environment or you will not be able to login and gain access.
I now have complete access to my personalized demo SRM environment where I can now begin testing SRM 5.0! As I mentioned earlier, I get 2 weeks to walk-through the lab and complete any testing I would like to perform. The lab manuals will be provided by the systems engineer that you work with when you request your access to the environment.
A Special Thanks!
I wanted to give special thanks and some recognition to the vCL team for all of their hard work and efforts that went into this project. It is still a work in progress, but the team is in the process of adding more labs to the service catalog. They are also planning on adding more back-end storage to accommodate supporting more customers and ensuring scalability from a performance perspective. Great work guys!
** Selected Customer indicates those that are supported by a pre-sales systems engineer. The SE is the owner of the customer experience and is responsible for coordinating the customer requests and ensuring they are getting the desired results from the vCL.