Skytap Virtual Labs Enable IBM’s First Remote Fast Start 2021

Since 2017, IBM has used Skytap to support its Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and sales demo activity for Fast Start. Fast Start is IBM’s annual conference to showcase new product solutions and train its technical seller community and partner network.  This year was the first time IBM ran the event entirely online, which drew more than 3,000 attendees.                     

 In preparation for the event, Skytap worked closely with IBM to perform a test of a full global deployment. This included five separate Skytap data centers and more than 2500 virtual machines. 

Deployment Automation with Skytap API

For Fast Start, IBM uses a homegrown automation tool that is built around the Skytap API and is used to provision thousands of VMs per day and run/delete them in a scheduled timeframe. This level of orchestration creates efficiency of deployment and helps to manage the cost of consumption. 

IBM Fast Start has grown considerably over the years; both in the number of attendees and the amount of required resources. Skytap’s multi-tenant cloud service, running in IBM Cloud, supports this growth year-over-year.  Earlier projections suggested that this year would have a large increase in RAM and Networks (CPU/RAM/Storage) over Fast Start 2020. These predictions proved true as we saw substantial increases in RAM and Networks over 2020, and efficiencies were gained in Storage due to a shift to multi-tenancy for IBM’s Cloud Paks workloads, which are vast in size.

  2020 2021 Delta %
RAM 70654 105610 49.47%
Virtual Storage (TB) 2593 1391 -46.36%
Networks 633 1671 163.98%

This year, alone, ~3000 labs on Skytap were consumed by users who were attending the event. Each lab varied in size up to 720GB RAM and 10.7TB of Storage. 

To ensure the success of an event at such a scale, a Skytap Technical Account Manager was appointed to run a war-room-style WebEx throughout the course of Fast Start. This allowed for immediate triage of any technical issues as they occurred and also allowed for added flexibility in the deployment schedule to accommodate last-minute changes such as adding additional attendees, or content and curriculum changes. Partnerships such as this are something that Skytap works hard to ensure are successful and offers Technical Account Managers to all of our Enterprise and/or Platinum customers


with Skytap’s assistance, IBM was able to easily pivot to delivering entirely remote event while fully supporting the scope and scale of attendees. 

Join our email list for news, product updates, and more.