Quick Review: LAS4001 – VMworld Labs User Automation and Workflow Architecture

Session LAS4001 – VMworld Labs User Automation and Workflow Architecture was the last session I attended at VMworld 2011.  To be blunt, I almost didn’t go.  It was the last session of the conference and I was a bit tired from the crazy week, but I decided at the last minute that I’d check it out.  As I sit back and reflect on it the phrase “Save the best for last” comes to mind.  What an awesome way to end the conference.  The presenter, Clair Roberts is a vCloud architect working for VMware and a REALLY smart guy.

The session was all about the automation layer that made the labs possible.  Labs took place this year in a purely public cloud model split over three different datacenters.  There were other sessions that discussed the hardware used, but this was the good stuff.  Clair started out by talking about how they used to do labs by re-imaging laptops after every lab.  In 2008 he was asked to make a sort of self-service portal for labs by presenting the user with an option of a lab to pick.  Well Clair said yes, thinking it would be a couple of webpages and a little bit of coding.  This year there were 27 labs and 480 seats, which comprised of just a tad bit more than two webpages and a little bit of code!  The code used for this years’ labs was written by Clair and his team and it provided all of the automation.  From the splash screen with the list of labs, to building and tearing down VMs, it was all custom code (no, vCenter Orchestrator was not used at all) and it all ran on vCloud Director, no more custom version of lab manager…amazing!

I’m not going to go into too much more detail, the goal for this post is to get you guys who have access to VMworld 2011 online sessions to go check it out for yourself as soon as its available.  Clair Roberts and his team did a phenomenal job, and he explains some of the challenges they encountered this year, such as some MAC flapping issues in the Las Vegas data center, and he talked about some challenges the years prior (such as being told to stop a lab or the storage array would literally catch on fire!!!!).  I hope that you will go watch his session as I’m sure you will be just as intrigued and blown away as I was.

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