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Virtualization

Microsoft Promotes Azure as Alternative to Physical Computer Labs

Microsoft is hoping to replace the concept of the physical computer lab on campus with its cloud-based version. The company already has DevTest Labs for test environments. Now it's promoting Azure Lab Services to enable a campus to set up an environment, provision Windows or Linux virtual machines, install the software and tools that are needed and make them available to users.

Lab users use a registration code to connect to virtual machines and use them for class work. Users may be limited to exactly the applications they need access to and the number of hours they're allowed on the virtual machines.

The lab "owner" or "creator" can set lab schedules to automatically shut down and start up virtual machines; specify the time slots when the lab's virtual machines are accessible to users; set usage policies per user or per lab to optimize cost; and analyze usage and activity trends in a lab. A given lab can be deleted quickly when it's no longer needed.

The cloud service takes care of the infrastructure management for a managed lab, including spinning up the virtual machines and other activities related to scaling the infrastructure.

Information about Azure Lab Services is available on the Microsoft website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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