More than just flings: VMware Labs site adds educational material

A new publications and academic learning section are the newest updates to the VMware Labs website. Flings fans won’t be disappointed with some of the recent additions either.

If you haven’t visited the VMware Labs website in a while, you should. Not only did it get a facelift, but it also features all sorts of new and reorganized content in addition to those great little application tidbits called flings.

When the VMware Labs website debuted a few years ago, it was basic in style and had almost no real content except for flings. (If you don’t know, “flings” are VMware-speak for small, free – and unsupported -- applications written by VMware developers to be “played with and explored.” )

VMware Labs becomes a learning resource
What’s new about the VMware Labs website that really sparked my interest was the new Publications and Academic areas. The Publications section has a whole slew of technical articles and research papers that have been developed by VMware engineers and staff over the years, some as far back as 1996! Some of this content has been available on various VMware websites, but they now have consolidated it all into the VMware Labs website. There are some very interesting articles and papers there, including some of general interest. Some examples worth noting are:

There are many more there, and I would invite you to take a look at them, especially the early papers, and see what those folks were envisioning for the future vs. what is practiced today.

On the Academic side, this website has plenty of free courseware, videos and conference material for anyone who is interested in learning and possibly teaching about virtualization technologies. For anyone that is new to the concept of virtualization, I would recommend going through the provided courseware including the Introduction, Basic, and Intermediate courses, and then moving on to the more advanced topics provided. All of the slide decks, lab instructions and student material is provided. The courseware area is also a great resource for any material that you may need for creating your own classroom material or presentation on virtualization (please read and agree to the VMware Labs Terms of Use before using any material).

Also new in the Academic section is the VMware Technical Journal, which made its debut this year as a collection of technical articles focused on VMware’s research and development activities. You can download your copy or request a hard copy or USB drive with the journal.

Flings still the star of VMware Labs
But at its heart, the VMware Labs site is still about the flings.

Among the best flings is the recent vBenchmark, which proved very exciting to VMware administrators looking for a good tool to evaluate their data center’s key environmental metrics. VBenchmark reports on quality of service and efficiency, and provides reports that admins can save and use later for historical comparisons to help with capacity planning and comparisons. Now, there are other tools out there that could provide this same information at a much more detailed and granular level. However, flings aren’t meant to be elaborate, extensive or even a permanent addition to your enterprise. They are, however free.

Most of the other flings available haven’t been updated in a while, because they are not really products from VMware, but rather the by-products of the developers’ imaginations. While some developers may put some time into updating a fling, most have already moved on to the next coolest thing. The Auto-Deploy GUI fling was the latest fling updated in 2012, and that was because of the new Auto Deploy options available in ESXi 5.

Overall, I am very impressed with the new Labs offerings and I think much of the credit should go to the mastermind behind VMware Labs, Steve Herrod, VMware chief technology officer, as well as to the great engineers and developers who work at VMware. They are providing the virtualization community with a wealth of information and some neat code that enhances knowledge, remembers history and puts a little fling in your life!

This was first published in May 2012

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