Michael Fudge, Remote Lab - Providing Access to Your

Report
Remote Lab:
Providing Access to Your
Lab Facilities Virtually
Michael Fudge
Sr. Systems & IT Support Administrator, Adjunct Professor
Syracuse University iSchool
Start
Michael
Fudge
[email protected]
http://mafudge.syr.edu/
remote-lab
@mafudge
iSchool?
People
Info.
Tech.
7000+ Alumni
728 Graduates
585 Undergrads
50 Faculty
44 Staff
9
Certificate
programs
3
Graduate
programs
2
Doctoral
programs
1
School of
Information
Studies
Our Lab Facilities
3 “teaching” labs
98 seats total
1 “open lab”
10 seats
1 “mobile” lab
30 laptops
1 Specialized VM
Networking lab
1 “Remote” lab
24 seats *
Our Labs – Specifications
Dell OptiPlex 790 Small Form Factor
Intel Core i7 2600 3.4 Ghz
8 GB RAM
128 GB SSD
Dual Monitors
Windows 7 x64
Gobs of software
Image Size 53GB
Our Labs – Configuration
Imaged with Ghost over LAN
Locked down with Deepfreeze
Faronics Insight to control classroom activity
Least privilege – no admin access.
Roaming User Profiles
Redirected My Documents.
The iSchool Facilities Crunch
# of Class Sections Taught in Lab
Fall
2012
Key Trends
From 2010 to 2012:
56
• 11 more classes
use labs facilities
Fall
2011
H010
50
H013
H027
Fall
2010
• 24% Increase
• 33 less hours per
week of open lab
45
• 90% Booked
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Our Problem: Overcommitted Lab Resources
Student Hears:
Instructor Hears:
“Complete this work
outside of class...”
“…the labs are full.”
But enough of our problems!
Why does your
organization maintain
computer labs?
https://chronicle.com/article/Computer-Labs-Get-Rebooted-as/49323/
Why We Still Maintain Labs:
Problem Traditional Lab Facilities
Require
Space
TimeBound
Need
Staffing
Costly to
Operate
The Question Becomes:
How do I provide access to
lab facilities without a physical
space to house them?
Remote Lab, FTW!
Access our “Lab Computers”
anytime from anywhere
Does not need to be staffed.
Does not occupy a room.
Same experience for all.
No costly desks or furniture.
No need to worry about theft
…Or people spilling drinks.
The idea is simple:
1. Dedicate bank of lab computers
(BOLC) to the task
2. Allow users to connect with
Windows Remote desktop (RDP)
3. ??????
4. PROFIT!!! 
Why Windows Remote Desktop?
No Additional Software is required on the lab
computer.
Compatible with a variety of client operating
systems.
Inexpensive. Less confusing than alternatives.
Demo.
Remote Lab
In Action
Remote Lab Design
Technical Information Ahead
Components of Remote Lab
Bank of Lab
Computers (BOLC)
Web Front-End
BOLC Status Tracker
Database
BOLC- Old School
Stack a bunch of PC’s
up somewhere.
Allow remote desktop
to your users.
You can use older
computers.
A great Start.
To scale, you’ll want
to virtualize…
Our BOLC – Current Setup
6 Dell 2950 IIIs
(Xeon Quad
Core, 32GB RAM)
EMC AX4-5 iSCSI SAN
(16TB) 2 SP’s
1GB NIC for iSCSI
1GB NIC for Network
Set-up on the cheap,
as proof of concept.
Been running since
last summer
Our BOLC – Software
VMware ESXi 4
Hypervisor
6 ESXi Hosts
4 VM’s per server,
1 CPU, 4GB RAM ea.
Each VM Runs on a
unique LUN/Storage
Processor combo.
Takes 2-3 Hrs. to
Ghost 1 Host. 
Web Front End
How users find available lab computers.
Users are authenticated via normal channels.
A web page displays which “nodes” are
available in the BOLC.
When a user clicks on an available node,
a customized .RDP file is sent to the client.
BOLC status tracker database
A Simple 1 Table Database.
Database tracks which nodes in the BOLC
are “available” and which are “occupied”
Events fire at logon / logoff / startup / shutdown
and record node status to the database.
Same database is used
by the web front-end
for UI Display.
Group Policy Tweaks
Special computer and user settings are
required for this unique environment
 Don’t allow users to kick each other off.
 Auto log-off at 120 minutes of idle time.
Prevents hogging of sessions.
 Run scripts at startup / shutdown / logon /
logoff to update the tracker database.
Challenges
Squatters. Try to stay on forever.
Re-connectors. Use the same downloaded
RDP file.
Direct-connectors. Bypass the web UI and
RDP directly into a machine.
Working on solutions to these problems.
Our Rollout
Timeline
Summer
2011
Initial
design and
prototype
Fall
2011
Spring
2012
Summer
2012
Fall
2012
Silent
Beta
Public
advertised
beta
Rebuild
from
lessons
learned
First
semester
of launch
Public Beta – Monthly Logins
Public Beta – Logins By Hour
Other Realized Benefits
Eases the lab crunch
Students don’t need to install software
Less student support calls / tickets.
License control
Distance education friendly!
Pro-Tips
For Starting Your Own Initiative
Pro-Tips
Start
Small
Work from a proof
of concept. No
need to invest
heavily to start.
Simplify
Does your Remote
Lab require the
same apps as your
Lab?
Buy-In
Find a faculty /
course which can
benefit. Get them
on-board.
Monitor
Track usage. Get
feedback and
opinions from
users.
Try It Yourself
Download SURA / Mac VPN from
https://software.ischool.syr.edu/downloads
Sign in with g-ist-labman / 0sw3go315
Run SURA / Mac VPN
Sign in with same Step 2 Credentials
Access Remote lab.
https://my.ischool.syr.edu
Thank You!
Michael
Fudge
[email protected]
Questions?
http://mafudge.syr.edu/
remote-lab
@mafudge

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