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Azure Lab Services offers classroom labs for higher education, K-12 institutions, and commercial organizations that don’t want to use the on-premises hardware but rather want to harness the power of the cloud to host labs for students or users. We are excited to announce major updates to Azure Lab Services including enhanced lab creation and improved backend reliability, access performance, extended virtual network support, easier labs administration via new roles, improved cost tracking via Azure Cost Management service, availability of PowerShell module, and .NET API SDK for advanced automation and customization, and integration with Canvas learning management system. Learn more about the new update and how to use it.
Along with making significant reliability enhancements to the backend, labs creation, and access performance improvements, this major update is bringing a whole slew of additional features for the IT departments and administrators, educators, and the students, who are the three key personas that use this service.
IT and administrators
For the IT and administrators, we have now introduced the concept of a lab plan instead of a lab account to provide more control over the creation, configuration, and management of the labs. For ease of administration of the lab, new roles have been created to provide granular control for different people managing labs for a large organization.
Creating a large number of labs with many virtual machines requires additional vCPUs which you have to request from us. With this new update, there is an improved vCPU capacity management for your subscription and you don’t share the vCPU capacity with others using the service. We have also now made it easier for you to track costs for your lab resources in Azure Cost Management. We have replaced virtual network peering with virtual network injection. With Virtual Network Injection you have more control over the network for lab virtual machines. In your own subscription, create a virtual network in the same region as the lab, delegate a subnet to Azure Lab Services, and you’re off and running.
For advanced automation, deployment, configuration, and management we have the PowerShell module and .NET API SDK. The Azure Lab Services PowerShell will now be integrated with the Azure PowerShell module and will release early February. In alignment with all the global compliance and regulatory laws around data residency, we are also saving the customer data in the regions where the labs are set up.
For all the educators and instructors using the service, we have added new functionality to improve their experience. Azure Lab Services can now be integrated within Canvas, a popular learning management system. Educators can use Canvas to create and configure labs for the students. Students can connect to the virtual machine from inside their course in Canvas. We have improved the auto-shutdown feature of the virtual machine. Auto-shutdown settings are now available for all operating systems. In addition, we have improved idle detection based on resource usage. For more flexibility, an instructor or IT Administrator can choose to skip the virtual machine template creation process if they already have an image ready to use or want to quickly deploy virtual machines for their lab.
Student experiences have also improved. Students can now redeploy their virtual machine without losing data if they are having issues accessing or using the virtual machine. If the lab is set up to use AAD group sync, there is no longer a need to send an invitation email so students can access their virtual machine—one is assigned to the student automatically.
We are eager to have you use our new and improved service to realize your educational, learning, and training scenarios no matter what industry you work in. Contact us directly or get started today to use the enhanced experience!