Infoblox

Challenge

Virtual training hosted from a single data center had slow lab access, VPN issues, and could not provide on-demand training, frustrating instructors and students.

Results

Infoblox can now offer paid on-demand courses that have increased on-demand training revenue by 40%. Customer complaints about latency and VPN issues have vanished, while virtual labs performance has dramatically improved.

Infoblox helps customers control their networks with solutions that help businesses automate complex network control functions to reduce costs, increase security, and maximize uptime. The company’s technology enables automatic discovery, real-time configuration and change management, and compliance for network infrastructure, as well as critical network control functions such as DNS, DHCP, and IP Address Management (IPAM) for applications and endpoint devices.
To maximize the investment of these solutions, Infoblox customers need and pay for access to training. To drive revenue, Steven Carr,Technical Operations Manager (Education), recognized that the Infoblox eLearning platform must be modernized to deliver on-demand classes to this global audience. Without modernization, Infoblox wouldn’t have the opportunity to provide a new offering that would contribute to top-line revenue.

Prior to Skytap, we had a single data center based in San Jose, which was great for the Americas, but when it came to delivering in Europe, Asia, or even worse, in South Africa, the latency problems we suffered trying to access the lab environments were just horrendous. We had continuous complaints of slow access to lab environments.

Steven Carr, Technical Operations Manager (Education), Infoblox

“Another problem was that we could only do hands-on and Virtual Instructor-led Training, but couldn’t offer on-demand delivery,” said Carr.

Also, with Infoblox’s existing platform, students had to access courses via VPN. “So, not only did we have the latency problems, but we also had people who had locked down laptops and couldn’t install the VPN client, which then caused massive headaches for our team,” said Carr.

With Course Manager, we can now offer an entirely new training product to our customers: on-demand learning. Since implementation, our on-demand learning has grown to 22% of our training revenue.

Steven Carr, Technical Operations Manager (Education), Infoblox

Carr and his team start by building a master template, which includes infrastructure, networking, storage, OS, and software in a single environment. Once the master template is configured, Infoblox can copy the entire environment to the regions where it will be used. An Infoblox backend system manages template IDs and uses the Skytap API to deploy the templates to data centers. Simple URLs are then shared via Skytap Sharing Portals, so students can access the complete lab environment in seconds. Infoblox then uses Course Manager’s scheduling functionality to tear down and delete the environments when the class is ended, which helps Infoblox reduce environment capacity.

Use of Skytap has grown in scale since to include development. “Initially we kept two sets of labs running. So, I was keeping a master copy running in our VMware cluster locally at our headquarters, then I took a side image off that and loaded it into Skytap. It’s now to the point where we’re pretty much doing all of our development on Skytap as well.” Although this was not initially planned, by moving development to Skytap they’ve been able to modernize their development processes as an additional benefit. “We built a central portal where instructors can reserve training labs, and the portal integrates with our LMS to deploy on-demand labs when our customers register for an online class. The portal interfaces with Skytap via the REST API, and deploys lab environments as required,” said Carr.

Skytap has taken a lot of the manual effort away from managing the labs. With our old data center, there was always something that would stick and we would have to then go in and fix it. With Course Manager, it’s a lot more automated and saves us a lot of admin on the back end.

Steven Carr, Technical Operations Manager (Education), Infoblox

Infoblox now delivers up to 12 in-person and virtual training classes globally each week with an average of eight students per class. The real focus, however, is on on-demand style learning, and Carr’s team plans to increase Infoblox on-demand training offerings dramatically.

After modernizing its eLearning platform with Course Manager, Carr’s team is using their extra time to focus on bringing additional innovation to the eLearning program. They will start by unbundling course offerings in order to charge for additional classroom environments (extensions) to further increase revenue.

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