VETLab is based on the Ansible automation and configuration system. One of Ansible’s strengths is its ability to handle complex heterogenous environments: exactly the type of environment typically found in education and training settings where a wide range of IT units are taught using a variety of operating systems on an eclectic mix of hardware.
The VETLab environment currently consists of:
- Repo server which also includes a collection of kickstart files and configuration scripts. Together, they allow the rapid creation of integrated physical or virtual network environments including DNS, DHCP, LDAP, SMTP and Samba servers, firewalls and routers.
- Multiuser server on which all students have a login account. This is used for shell scripting and web development units.
- Router which isolates student networks from the college network, but allows internet access via the college network. The router also provides DHCP, DNS and NTP services to isolated student networks.
- Ansible machine which is used as a central lab administration tool. It manages virtual machine creation and configuration, powering machines on and off, etc.
There is potential for Ansible to automate routine aspects of assessment and reporting by, for example, comparing initial and final state of student machine configurations and archiving relevant files.