VMware Hands-On Lab online portal's beta testers share experiences

If you want to test out new VMware products without a home lab, consider joining the VMware Hands-On Lab online portal, now in public beta trials.

If you're eager to test out VMware products in exchange for feedback, sign up for the public beta of VMware Hands-On Lab Portal, built on the Project Nee (Next-generation Education Environment) Application. The VMware online lab beta is not entirely hassle-free, but pioneering VMware admins are braving the bugs to take labs from VMware and partners on the HOL portal without leaving their desks. And they're sharing initial impressions with fellow admins on Twitter.

@eck79 Finally got my account issues worked out with the #VMware #HOL support team. Ready to take advantage of this great resource!

VMware Hands-On Lab (HOL) Online beta testers have to take the yin with the yang, so don't sign up expecting flawless operation out of the gate. Take advantage of the known-issues list and other community discussions on VMware's HOL site while you're using Hands on Lab, and follow @VMwareHOL on Twitter. If you have experience with the in-person VMware Hands-On Labs, compare it to the online experience.

@RuddyVCP How long did it take for your account to be active or who did you have to contact? I've been waiting for about a week. #VMware #HOL

The VMware online lab started "trickling in" users in November 2012 and it seems demand is still overwhelming support. Kyle Ruddy (@RuddyVCP) expressed some envy that Adam Eckerle (@eck79) had made it into the application. To try HOL Online for yourself, register for the public beta list here.

@VMwareHOL Beta users please be sure to verify your account -- you will get a note from the Project Nee Team asking you to verify it.

The online portal for VMware Hands-On Labs requires a level of partnership between beta testers and VMware's team. Some things to note before you sign up: Updates and maintenance will fall, for the most part, on Wednesdays. You might be pounding the "Refresh" button for some actions, though VMware plans to have a progress bar ready soon. And you can't get into the public beta until the Project Nee team verifies you, so keep an eye out for their email.

@gopikeerthy Completed my VMware Hands-On Labs Online (HOL-INF-02 -- Explore vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) New Features) Great COOL feature... :)

Early users are getting a lot out of the online labs. When all you need is a VMware vCloud API and Internet connection, you can use HOL Online to complement your VMware home lab or forgo a home lab entirely. Labs available today cover security and cloud deployment, new features in products like vCenter Operations Manager and vCenter Orchestrator, end-user computing and several VMware partner products. While the Hands-On Labs portal is still in early phases, it will grow as long as users see it as a cool feature and VMware addresses bugs early on.

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Want practice on hand
This is a great framework for learning VMware technology. Also seeing this model for many other technologies and it's great that we will eventually be able to move away from the headache of home lab maintenance:

- Free AWS training (and Free Tiers of usage across services) http://aws.amazon.com/training/self-paced-labs/

- OpenStack Labs - http://trystack.org/

- Docker Online - https://www.docker.com/tryit/