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Managing Virtual Machines


Apporto offers two types of Virtual Machines (VMs):

  • Persistent VMs
    Persistent VMs are assigned to specific users.  They are useful when users need administrative permissions to a machine (for example, to install software or modify the environment).  Changes to the environment are persisted across sessions.
  • Non-persistent VMs
    Non-persistent VMs provide users with a full virtual machine, but are not assigned to specific users and the environment is not persisted across sessions.  Each time a user launches a non-persistent VM, a VM is selected from a pool of available VMs.

    Non-persistent VMs are similar to Apporto’s standard desktops (e.g. Windows Desktop), except there is a limit of one user per server.


Persistent VMs are required for:

  • Cyber Labs
    The Apporto Cyber Lab is a persistent VM with embedded VMs (eg. Windows and Linux machines).  Users can install or create malware and stage attacks on the embedded VMs.
  • Extended Compute
    When users need to run long processes (eg. simulations, rendering, etc.) that run overnight or for multiple days, Apporto offers “Extended Compute.”  Users are assigned to Persistent VMs on servers with no timeouts.  You may set usage limits and monitor usage relative to budget.


    By default, inactive sessions (with no keyboard or mouse activity) are ended after 60 minutes.  Active sessions are ended after 8 hours.  These timeouts do not apply on Extended Compute servers.  Users may leave processes running > 8 hours.

 

This short guide will show you step by step how to:

View Virtual Machines

Using your preferred web browser, navigate your Apporto instance (eg. “mycollege.apporto.com”) and log in using your Admin credentials.  Faculty may also access VMs if their role has permissions.

Click the Servers   icon in the Navigation Panel.

The ‘Servers’ screen displays.

Non-persistent VMs

Click the Non-persistent VMs tab.

The ‘Non-persistent VMs’ screen displays.

A list of available non-persistent VMs is displayed along with basic information including a user-defined LOCAL NAME, the unique VM NAME, and system STATE.

The base image machine can usually be identified by a unique name ending in 000.  Subsequent machine names end in 001, 002, and so on.


Persistent VMs

Click the Persistent VMs tab.

The ‘Persistent VMs’ screen displays.

The ‘Persistent VMs’ screen provides a list of persistent VMs available for your instance.

The VM NAME uniquely identifies the Virtual Machine, but you may also add a user-defined LOCAL NAME.

The system STATE tells you if the machine is stopped or running.

IMAGE DATE is a date of the most recently created image, if available.  This field is only populated for base image machines (identified by VM NAMES ending in 000).

Persistent VMs are created ahead of time by Apporto (based on the number of purchased VMs), but are not assigned until a user launches the desktop.

The USER EMAIL field will be populated once a persistent VM has been assigned.

If all VMs have been assigned, the next user who tries to launch the app/desktop will see an error message explaining that no VMs are available.

If a user no longer needs access to a VM, you may free it up by removing the assignment.

Locate the relevant VM, click the down arrow in the ACTION menu, and select Delete Association.

The email of the user originally assigned will no longer appear associated with the VM, and the next user who launches the app/desktop will be assigned to the newly available VM.


Manage Virtual Machines

Manage Non-persistent Virtual Machines

Non-persistent Virtual Machines may be started and launched.

To start a Virtual Machine, click the down arrow in the ACTION menu.

Click Start Server

Wait about 30 seconds (AWS) to 2 minutes (Azure) for the server to start.

Once started, the INSTANCE STATE will change from stopped to running.  Also, the button will change from Start to Launch. Click Launch to launch the desktop.

Users launch their VM from the App Store whereas Admins and/or Faculty may launch the base image (or any production VM) from the Persistent VMs screen.

 

Manage Persistent Virtual Machines

The first VM listed (in a group of VMs) is the Base Image.  It is often identified by a VM NAME ending in 000. 

To install software and configure the Base Image VM, click the down arrow in the ACTIONS column.

Select Start Server and wait about 30 seconds (AWS) or 2 minutes (Azure) for the servers to start.  The state will change from stopped to running.

When the server is running, select Launch Server

The app or desktop opens in a new browser tab.

Install the desired software and make any necessary configurations.

Sign out of Windows or close the browser tab when you are finished.

To create a new image, select Create Image

Creating an image prepares a server for cloning (temporarily removing it from Active Directory, renaming it, etc.) and this usually requires rebooting.  Whereas taking a Backup just requires taking a snapshot of the VM.

This process can take 5-120 minutes (AWS) or 10-20 minutes (Azure) depending on the size of the image.

You will be notified by email and in the product (bell icon in the top menu) when the process finishes.

The IMAGE DATE field will be updated with the date and time of the most recently created image (only one image is persisted – the last one created).

To re-image a production VM (identified by names ending in 001, 002, etc.), select Re-image from the ACTIONS menu.

Re-imaging typically takes less than 30 minutes (AWS) or less than 2 hours (Azure) depending on the size of the farm.

You will be notified by email and in the product (bell icon in top menu bar) when the process completes. 

To backup a VM, select Backup

This process can take 5-120 minutes (AWS) or 10-20 minutes (Azure).  Also, even though the process can take a long time on AWS, the VM is available for use after 5-10 minutes.

To restore a VM to the last backed up version, select Restore 

Restoring typically takes 10-20 minutes (AWS and Azure).

Restoring a VM restores it to the most recent backed up image for that specific VM.

Re-imaging a VM will remove the current image and replace it with the Base Image (also known as the “Golden Image”). 

The steps above enable you to manage specific VMs one at a time.  This is useful if only a few students “break” their VMs (for example when working in the Cyber Lab). 

If you have an entire class of students learning a new skill and making a mess of their VMs, your faculty may need to re-image ALL of the VMs after class (to reset them to the base image). 

In this case, check the boxes for the relevant VMs (or check the top box to select all VMs) and click Update Options.

Select Re-image from the dropdown menu and hit Update.

This process may take several minutes.

You will be notified by email and in the product when the process completes.