Ready As We’ll Ever Be! – vLab at EMC World, Day 3

Day 3 is our last day of prep before customers arrive.  We have to button up the vLab area on the show floor and make sure that all the content and the platform is good to go.  The cables we needed have arrived so getting the thin clients functional is the focus.  Overnight, the platform team drained all vApps out of the system and have pre-popped all labs to pre-set amounts.  We have more pre-pops for labs we expect to be popular and less for those we don’t.  The whole point is to prevent students from having to wait for a lab to provision without consuming an inordinate amount of capacity.  We’ve also pre-popped the Guided vLab sessions.  These are classroom style labs, with all students taking the same lab and guided by an instructor.  They differ from the “Choose Your Own” style of the main room.  The system is essentially at its peak minus the active student sessions.  Those will come tomorrow!

The vLab Experience is starting to look more like its final state.  Signage is going up all over the place.  Monitors are flickering to life and the EMC World screen saver is gliding all over.  The theme this year is Modernize and there is a ton of marketing with contrast between old and new.  I quite like the shot they have of the Louvre with the iconic (and more modern) pyramid against the backdrop of the older portion of the museum.

Photo by @AnnetteOHerlihy

The registration desk is also coming together.  This is the first stop of a student wanting to attend vLab.  Students can register for a Guided vLab or receive a token to take a lab in the general space.  This token is single use and allows the student to choose a lab.  It prevents a student from starting a bunch of different labs all at once and also allows us to tie together the student to the lab / product they’re interested in.  That data is critical to judge which labs are most popular and for potential followup post show.

Photo by @AnnetteOHerlihy – Hey there @TriciaKreis!

The vertical screens in the shot above are for digital signage.  These will display our lab listings for the Hands on Labs as well as the schedule for Guided vLabs.  Far more cool than standard paper signs!  As you can see, the registration desk now has a fancy skin and is far better looking than it was yesterday.  The plexiglass walls are all covered in a white plastic film.  That will be peeled off later today – the lab space feels much more open once that happens.

Update 1 – 6pm LV time

The lab has come together nicely.  All of the student stations are up and running.  The big screen where we display statistics about labs taken, VMs, popularity etc. is up and running.  Most all of the signage has been completed as well.  The team has moved from room 407 into the NOC that is positioned behind the lab itself.  We’ll live in this NOC for most of the next four days.  Communication between “front of house” and “back of house” will be key because we need to respond quickly to any attendee issues that may pop up.  Walkies will be distributed and we’ll have loads of fun with those!


Original drawing of the space – should look vaguely like this by the end!

Looks awesome – eerily calm this close to the start of the show…

@eoinok77 is making sure the LAN is square
He thinks he did a good job…

The NOC is up and running – where we all assemble while vLab is open

The proctors have arrived and are in the midst of proctor training.  The proctors are the folks who know the lab content inside and out.  They help to staff vLab and are available to answer any questions that the attendees may have.  There is a button in the vLab interface to raise your virtual hand.  When clicked, a lab number and a seat number goes up in the corner of the big screen at the front of the room.  That way the proctors know who has a question and generally what the topic is so that it can be quickly addressed.

@alanmcgra (the guy in charge) is speaking to the lab proctors


Once training completes, the proctors will help us conduct a scale test.  They’ll all start taking labs and thus put load on the system.  Well be back in the NOC watching the various components of the system: vLab application, virtualization layer, compute, and storage.  We’ll be looking for any signs of distress.  If found, we’ll need to get those resolve before tomorrow!

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