Hasso Plattner Institut (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 2940-2949
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1663
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Virtual Laboratory is needed for practical, hands-on exercises in e-learning courses. E-learning system needs to provide a specific laboratory environment for a specific learning unit. Different learning unit uses different scenarios and different tools which requires different hardware resources. For example, in several Internet security learning unit scenarios, more than one machine are needed. One machine is representing a victim and the other machine is representing an attacker. These machines can be a Virtual or physical machine. In other learning units such as a programming language, it only needs a shared machine to be used by some students to edit, compile and run the program.

A Virtual laboratory system with a high requirements learning units, is struggling in serving a large number of users, because the available hardware resources are limited and the budget to provide more resources is also very limited. In e-learning environment, the number of users that simultaneously access the virtual laboratory varies. Sometimes high, sometimes low. The amount of the hardware resources should be able to scale out and scale in rapidly. In this paper, we propose an architecture of a virtual laboratory system for a large number of users where a user or a company can contribute in providing hardware resources in Crowdsourcing manner.

One of the advantages of using cloud computing is the ability to scale out and scale in based on the user’s need. In the proposed architecture, we used private and public cloud to provide the low cost high performance Virtual laboratory. If the users have their own VM in the cloud or in their own bare metal system, they can also integrate their VM into the Virtual laboratory system. This architecture is able to expand by receiving more hardware resources from a user or a company that is willing to contribute. The resources can be anywhere but must be connected to the Internet. Because the e-learning system is a non-profit system, we assumed that some users and companies are willing to contribute.

We use Tele-lab architecture as a based to create the proposed architecture. Tele-lab is a virtual laboratory for Internet security e-learning. Tele-lab uses a private cloud (openNebula) to provide VMs and Containers that are used to represent hosts in a Virtual laboratory. In our architecture as also in Tele-Lab, there is a front end and a back end. The front end is providing an interface to the users. In our architecture we are focus on the back-end to be able to provide a virtual laboratory that can serve a large number of users. In the architecture, we use a middleware to provide a communication between private cloud and public cloud and also communication between the Virtual laboratory system and the VMs that belong to the users.

This work is part of the continuous improvement on Tele-Lab to make it more reliable and more scalable. We are heading toward using Tele-Lab in the implementation of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
e-learning, Virtual Laboratory, Hybrid Cloud, Crowdsourcing.