Hands on Labs & TestDrive


Literally the quickest post I’m ever going to make. But as a customer, this is something I didn’t know about as a customer, and its something I really wish I did. So why do you care? Cause its free access to the VMware products and services to play around with in your own time!

OK, so you want to play with a product but your boss says “no, we don’t have time for a POC or a pilot”. OK, fair enough, you should be probably closing the 100s of tickets in your Incident Management software but that aint fun right?

Enter VMware with 2 tools which will make your life much better.

Hands on Labs

First up, Hands on Labs or HoL. For quick access the link to HoL is: https://hol.vmware.com/. It doesn’t cost anything, and is available 24/7 so no excuses!

Essentially these are labs that have been set up by VMware staff in order to educate you on certain products or features within those products. There are 3 types of HoL:

Lightning Labs

Essentially these are 30 min assisted deep dives into core functionality of a product. Brilliant to get a good understanding of what it brings to the table

At the time of writing there are sessions to show you how to enable Kubernetes within your vSphere environment, or getting started with the VMC on AWS platform or even getting to grips with the NSX Advanced Load Balancer (AVI). Great variety and brilliant for whistle-stop tour of a product and its functionality.

Comprehensive Labs

No massive shock here, these are longer labs that go into far more detail than Lightnining – ranging from 30 mins right up to 5.5hours. Much the same as Lightining labs though, no installation, licenses, etc needed – just a browser, some motivation and some time!

Huge variety of sessions here though, with a few examples being:

  • Creating and managing Instant Clone desktop pools and RDSH farms
  • Learning how to troubleshoot within vRealize Log Insight (vRLI)
  • Using Site Recovery Manager to plan and execute a DR plan

Odyssey Game Labs

These are a new feature to the HoL platform but they are essentially timed tasks to test your product knowledge. You can see how you perform against others on a leaderboard and they are quick, typically only 30 mins long (or quicker if you’re a guru!)

I had a go at a couple of these the other day, things like spinning up a k8s application and expanding a cluster or testing yourself on NSX-T were quite good fun. Turns out there are some really quick guys and gals out there. My score was disappointing 🙁

Test Drive

Test Drive, much like HoL is available free of charge and available 24/7 but differs in that essentially you have access to the platform, not task led, more free-roam. So, for example, you can jump onto a cloud-based Workspace One UEM platform, enroll a device and play around creating profiles and deploying apps. Or, if that is too intimidating, go through a walkthrough (essentially following a guide) to get famililar. This is such an overlooked platform, mainly because we at VMware don’t shout about it enough (hence the blogpost!) but its very valuable.

At the time of writing there are 4 distinct different offerings within Test Drive:

Digital Workspace: Covering Workspace One UEM & Horizon

Accelerate Cloud Journey: Focused on vSAN & Tanzu

Intrinsic Security: Includes Velocloud SD-WAN and Carbon Black

Virtual Cloud Network: NSX Advanced Load Balancer (Avi Networks)

So if you’re a customer, or even if you’re not – get yourself onto HoL and Test Drive and have a play with the platforms. They’re all set up and ready to go for you to play with the full functionality with guides and support every step of the way.


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