Test Drive a Cloud Solution
At Pulse 2014 in Las Vegas
By Paul Quigley
Pulse is an annual event, with worldwide attendance from many customers, IBM Business Partners, and IBM employees. This year, Pulse runs from Sunday, Feb. 23rd through Wednesday, Feb. 26th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attendees can choose between various venues – technical overviews, case studies, panel and group discussions, meet the experts, birds of a feather, general sessions, even a few receptions, a Solution Expo, and more!
But, that’s not all you can do at Pulse! Despite the enormous number of sessions, you need to make time to test drive the cloud solutions in one or more hands-on labs. Hands-on labs provide an opportunity to gain first-hand technical experience with IBM’s products and solutions. Take advantage of more than 130 labs across a spectrum of 60 products and solutions at Pulse 2014.
The hands-on labs are located in rooms 309 and 310 of the MGM Conference Center. Daily hours are as follows:
Sunday, February 23: 10:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m.
Monday, February 24: 09:30 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 25: 09:30 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 26: 10:30 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.
Here is how it works – you come to the room at your convenience and are welcome to take as many labs as you like. You can come during lunch. You can come instead of attending a session, or even at the end of your day. Whatever time works for you, the enablement specialists are ready, willing, and waiting to get you started and assist as you go through each lab.
How long does a hands-on lab take? All lab exercises are designed to be self-paced and to take approximately 45 to 60 minutes each. Some might take longer.
In the event that a hands-on lab is completely full, please accept our apologies, in advance. Unfortunately, this does happen occasionally, and from IBM’s perspective, it is a nice problem to have--and, a good reason for you to come early in the week.
What skills do you need for a hands-on lab? The skills required for the hands-on labs range from Introductory (where little to no skill is required) to Intermediate (where some product knowledge is expected and helpful) to Advanced (where product knowledge is a definite requirement.). Most labs are of the Introductory/Intermediate skill level.
This is a great opportunity and one of the best benefits you can gain from attending Pulse. Don’t go home without taking at least one hands-on lab. Previous attendees have come for one hands-on lab and taken several. First-time “lab rats” have been known to comment that the hands-on labs were the best part of the conference. We enjoy those comments.
I’d like to take some time to describe the work and effort that takes place before you come into the lab room for a hands-on lab.
For several months prior to Pulse, enablement specialists work to develop the hands-on labs. Those efforts usually entail installing the various Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure products along with supporting middleware. Then, we configure and customize them. Finally we test and retest each lab in a simulated Pulse environment. All of that work is done on virtual machines, also built by the enablement specialists you meet at Pulse. Some hands-on labs are taken straight from one of our enablement courses. Others are newly developed specifically for Pulse.
Much like any development project, there is a process we must follow. The enablement specialists create the lab guides with instructions and explanations for each hands-on lab. The lab guides are then reviewed by technical editors whose job it is to make sure we publish the highest quality documents.
Then, there is the test phase. Typically, a lab is tested by at least two people. One is a subject matter expert who is familiar with the product or solution. The other is a non-subject matter expert. For example, if the lab involves IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator (SCO), any of the SCO enablement specialists qualify as subject matter experts. The second tester might be an enablement specialist who is well versed with SmartCloud Monitoring or SmartCloud Control Desk. This cross-testing ensures that the lab developer did not make any assumptions about the knowledge level of the intended audience.
I wish I could say that we never have to modify the virtual machines after they are initially created, but I wouldn’t be truthful if I did. After testing, we typically update the instructions in the lab guides as well as the virtual machines that host the labs. Sometimes there is a lot of “image churn” (as we call it) to keep up with all of the changes. This is especially true when you are using a single set of virtual machines for a broad range of hands-on labs, such as with IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator at Pulse 2014. We built one set of virtual machines to handle 16 different SCO hands-on labs across all skill sets (Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced). As if that wasn’t enough, we had seven enablement specialists developing the SCO lab content as well as requiring changes to the image set.
Come meet the enablement team at the hands-on labs at Pulse 2014. By the time you arrive, the labs and environment will have been tested many times over. If there is a problem, it’s usually minor.
You can’t get to Pulse, unless you register. If you haven’t already registered, here is the link:
About the author
Paul Quigley is a Senior Technical Enablement Specialist with the IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure Enablement team, with expertise in Tivoli Service Automation Manager, Tivoli Provisioning Manager, and Smart Cloud Orchestrator.