Axis: Virtual Lab Management Application

Technology domains
Cloud Solutions
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Axis: Virtual Lab Management Application Axis: Virtual Lab Management Application
The pandemic moved education around the world online. Despite the wide variety of tools and technologies available, many educational institutions failed to organize distance learning quickly and effectively. The fact is that most cloud platforms are not designed for this purpose: they are hard to use and provide too many excessive features.Therefore, there is an urgent need for a system with an easy-to-understand interface that would make the interaction between cloud service providers and educators easier and more effective.
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Challenge

The pandemic moved education around the world online. Despite the wide variety of tools and technologies available, many educational institutions failed to organize distance learning quickly and effectively. The fact is that most cloud platforms are not designed for this purpose: they are hard to use and provide too many excessive features.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for a system with an easy-to-understand interface that would make the interaction between cloud service providers and educators easier and more effective.

Solution

Softarex has developed Axis — an application for virtual lab management. It runs over AWS Elastic Beanstalk and uses Redis for the synchronization of distributed resources.

Axis allows users to deploy virtual training labs to one of the 3 top cloud vendors — AWS, GCP, and Azure. The user can choose the service provider best suited to their needs, or use more than one if the training has specific lab requirements.

An intuitive interface with understandable elements makes the app easy to use both for tech-savvy users and newbies.

The application provides a billing system that offers three billing options: subscription-based charging, pay-per-use charging, and a combination of the two. Thanks to the integration with APIs, the billing process is ever-faster and hassle-free.

Functionality for instructors

  • Virtual classroom equipped with audio, webcam, whiteboards, and polls
  • Training materials management
  • Online presentation management
  • Performance dashboard
  • Student help requests management
  • Virtual lab management:

    • Remote control over student virtual lab
    • Screen sharing
    • Private and group chats
    • Time management capabilities
    • Student engagement measurement and monitoring, and more

Functionality for self-paced learners

  • Access to training materials
  • The ability to start training at any convenient time
  • Virtual lab management — the user can manually start and stop virtual labs
  • Multi-language interface, and more

Virtual machine management

Users can schedule events to get their virtual labs automatically started and stopped by the application

Project’s results

Axis allows users to achieve:

  • Real-time student learning monitoring;
  • Optimized performance;
  • High speed of operations;
  • Cost savings on cloud computing services thanks to the app’s usage-based billing model and the possibility to negotiate pricing directly with the provider;
  • Secure access to virtual labs using firewall-friendly protocols.

Technical challenges

  • Development of a high availability application working on a distributed cluster and tightly integrated into the user ecosystem;
  • Implementation of support of multiple cloud providers;
  • Development of a complex mechanism-scheduler that allows controlling both individual and groups of virtual machines;
  • Configuration of the environment (networks (according to RFC1918), subnets, firewall rule, the interaction between networks and subnets, the ability to set a static IP address to virtual machines.

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