Yes, you read the title of my blog correctly: hands-on labs in the cloud! Our upcoming event Citrix Synergy 2010 will provide several Hands-on Learning Labs about Citrix technologies, which will be hosted in the cloud – from XenDesktop, XenApp, Citrix provisioning services, XenServer to NetScaler and even troubleshooting classes. You may think this is way to challenging and risky, especially for an event like this, where everything needs to work and there is no room for experiments, right?

I thought the same, however with an experienced team of experts, proper planning, and professional hosting solutions provided by SoftLayer as an on-demand data center as well as Toolwire as a learning solutions provider, I have the confidence to go this path.

Having the Hands-on Learning Labs in the cloud offers so many advantages that are too attractive to ignore them

  • Lab Standardization: In order to gain the most benefit of having a centrally hosted lab environment, we needed to determine the common denominator for all classes to define the base build. Achieving this will ensure a consistent user experience since the fictitious customer scenario can be leveraged for all classes and providing the full Citrix story how real a Citrix Delivery Center is.
  • Bring Your Own Computer “BYOC”: Students are asked to bring their own computers – no matter if Windows, Mac, or Linux. You will use your own personal environment, which you know inside out, to access the hands-on labs in the cloud. This eliminates to “learn” an unknown student machine. Furthermore, Citrix Synergy attendees are international, which means it is not just a US keyboard layout. Having your own computer simplifies this drastically.
  • Flexibility: Did you ever see any event, where planned items stayed as planned? Usually, there are always last-minute changes. Leveraging a cloud-based environment provides much more flexibility in means of repeating classes, rearranging classes or just scaling out classes. This is a huge effort with classes having local equipment – imagine to move servers to another room or repeat a class that has high demand and there is not enough equipment!
  • Cost savings: I need to touch on the cost aspect since this goes hand in hand with cloud -based solutions. Having the hands-on labs in the cloud is so much more simple and cost effective, because I do not have to deal with shipping of equipment to the event location to build up a local data center, securing the facility, hardware failures, power and cooling challenges in event rooms, wiring class rooms, etc.
  • Reusable: Once you used the cloud to host hands-on lab environments, it can be reused. What do I mean with this? You may have seen it, there will be another Citrix Synergy at Berlin. Once you created the base you can reuse it for upcoming events such as Synergy Berlin or any other events or even training sessions. This does not mean that the content stays the same – the labs have been designed in a way that they can be easily updated to newer releases of a Citrix technology.

The cloud offers many opportunities, but you need to think through this since it is not the ultimate solution for everything. There is a lot of hype around the cloud and it will take time until it is well established. However, certain use cases are well suited to be in the cloud and one of them is to leverage it for hands-on labs.

I assume after reading this you may think that this sounds all too good to be real. But it is. We thought the same way, however, we have technology available that allows us to use it. The Citrix Delivery Center and an on-demand data center provider as SoftLayer shows how it can be done.

I hope I made you curious to try out the Hands-on Learning Labs at Citrix Synergy and gave you an outlook into possibilities with Citrix technology together with the cloud.

Stay tuned to hear more from me about Citrix Synergy and Cloud Computing.


Senior Architect, Worldwide Technical Readiness
Follow me on twitter: @TarkanK