Implementing Viable Remote Laboratories using Server Virtualisation

V.L. Lasky and S.J. Murray (Australia)


Software and Hardware Systems for Web-based Education, Scientific Web-based Laboratories and Virtual Labs, Remote Labs, Virtualisation, PLC, Control System


Remote laboratories are gaining prominence in university education, especially in respect of their ability to support distance education by allowing students to carry out experiments without being near the actual equipment and also by providing secure, equitable sharing of limited laboratory resources. For some types of laboratory experiments, remote laboratories have not in the past been viable to build due to infrastructure and maintenance costs. Large-scale remote laboratories may require a proportionally large number of servers to provide remote control, monitoring and management of the various experiments. Server Virtualisation software allows individual physical servers to host multiple virtual machines that can run multiple operating systems concurrently. In 2005, the Faculty of Engineering at UTS designed a remote Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) laboratory for Mechanical and Mechatronic engineering students based around the use of the popular Server Virtualisation software package, VMware™. This paper details the various benefits of Server Virtualisation that have been realised through the implementation of the Remote PLC laboratory and benefits for remote laboratories in general.

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