Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Amazon EC2 + LabSlice = My Lab

I happened to be reading up some ebooks on Powershell, and I decided I'll need a virtual machine (VM) to practice the scripts. I did not want to create a VM on my desktop / laptop as I'll wipe it out as soon as I finished the book and practices.

So I thought of running my lab from Amazon Web Services utilizing AWS's free usage tier. Basically it is to run a Windows 2008 R2 micro instance on Amazon EC2. It works by first requiring you to create the virtual machine thru a wizard and finally let's you access the machine via RDP. The trouble is the wizard has quite a number of steps and the user interface may be complicated for newbies.

Thus I started looking for a solution that is somewhat like a virtual lab, and I come across Labslice. Labslice basically packaged the provisioning and management of VM on AWS into a very simple to use web service, just like System Center VMM Self-Serivce portal. Other than using LabSlice to create your lab, you can also share out the VM to your friends or colleagues to utilize them. The concept of LabSlice is actually to "create demos, evaluations and training environments that are stored in the cloud and can be easily shared."

Finally, I created a "GRATIS" account on LabSlice and run thru the wizard to "pair' with my AWS account which ultimately allows me to create VM from LabSlice. Each creation of a VM is within LabSlice itself and you do not even need to login to AWS. The progress of the creation is visible to you and once it is ready for you, just hit the connect button to logon to the VM. When you are done with the VM, terminate it will remove the VM from AWS. If you wish to keep the VM, Snapshot it. Do keep in mind to stay within the free tier usage of AWS (and this is only for your 1st year reigstration on AWS).

For more information, these are the important links to look at:

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