Cloud Computing Lab Project Overview

The intent of the CCL NetLab project is to implement a means to a virtual computing laboratory that runs on existing idle computers. Upon completion, this computing model would be available for implementation at educational institutions.

Users will be able to access the potential computing power of these machines through an online interface. The user will only require a computer with internet access and Java. The web interface will provide options for pods (instructor preconfigured virtual machine environments). Once a pod is selected the user will be brought to a scheduling screen. The user will be able to reserve a lab time from the allotted times available. When the user requested time occurs the end user logs in and is presented with the selected machine running for them to carry out their work. Since the virtual machine will not be running on the user’s computer, the user will not be limited by the capabilities of their personal device.

The physical machines at institutions will run a built in operating system during class hours. This provides students in courses the functionality they require to carry out their studies. After classes have ceased the system will reboot and launch VMWare ESXi. This is an ultra-lightweight operating system meant for handling multiple virtual machine files at once. As time comes for classes the next day, the computers reboot to their built in operating system again.

Why do this project?

Institutions invest money into computer systems that do not get utilized to their full potential. These systems are employed for educational tools during class hours but remain idle for a greater portion of the time. This project intends to employ the capabilities of the memory and central processing units of these systems during off hours to host a light operating system that would be able to handle several virtual machine instances running simultaneously.

The Cloud Computing Lab is an advanced technology that will utilize existing hardware to offer end users remote access to virtual machines. The benefits of this project will apply to the following general audiences: students, instructors and institutions.

Create a lab environment that meets the following goals:

  • highly available
  • remotely accessible
  • low cost
  • resource efficient
  • scalable on demand


Students

The Cloud Computing Lab will provide the students with access to virtual machines running various operating systems and applications. The only necessary requirement is a computer with internet access. This removes providing capable hardware or financial burden from the students. Open scheduling and high availability of learning platforms will accommodate varying student schedules from traditional to nontraditional.

Instructors

This project will afford instructors another platform for presenting classroom material in a hands on environment. Customized applications can be provided consistently to students. It will also grant the instructors capability to customize virtual machines to present material based upon the experience of the users. These resources would be available to the students without need for further input from the instructor.

Institutions

The project will take existing equipment and better employ their resources when they would normally be in an idle state. This would be accomplished with little or no additional cost for the institutions to implement. This project will enable the institution to furnish a more flexible learning environment to their student body