Introduction

K2 offers virtual machines images for use in training, demonstration, sandboxing or non-essential development work. These virtual machines come pre-installed and configured with and without K2 software, as well as all the supporting technologies and applications such as SQL, SharePoint, Active Directory, developer tools and other software. 

There are three approaches in which K2 employees, K2 partners, K2 customers or training participants can obtain these virtual machines:

1) Download a virtual machine image
2) Provisioned Cloud-hosted instances
3) On-Demand Cloud-hosted instances (available only for K2 Partners)

This article describes each approach in some detail. For more information about these options and to determine which is appropriate for your requirements, please contact your local K2 office or your K2 representative

Downloaded Image vs. Cloud-hosted Instance

The Downloaded Image approach is normally used when it is not possible or permitted to connect to remote machines over RDP, if the organization wishes to avoid paying for cloud-hosting costs or if the organization wishes to run the virtual machines for an extended amount of time (several weeks to months). This approach requires the organization to download the virtual server image and then use virtualization software like Microsoft Hyper-V to run the environment. Note that this option requires significant computing resources. Click on the topics for the specific cores under Download Images for more information on this approach.

Provisioned Cloud-hosted instances is typically used for events delivered by K2, where environments will be provisioned by K2. This approach has the least computing requirements since the virtual environment is run in the cloud, but it does require relatively fast internet access (> 1MBPS recommended) because participants would connect to the cloud-hosted machine using Remote Desktop (RDP). See Provisioned Cloud-Hosted Instances for more on this option.

K2 Partners may request on-demand Cloud-hosted instances using the K2 partner portal. See On-Demand Cloud-hosted Instances for more information.

Download Images

Provisioned Cloud-Hosted Instances

The K2 virtual machine can be provided as a hosted instance on a Cloud-based virtualization platform, and the instances are available through the Internet using Remote Desktop Connection. The instances are hosted on infrastructure located on the East Coast region of the USA. In most cases, the performance of this infrastructure is sufficient for international access unless your location has very low bandwidth.

The following prerequisites apply for the hosted (cloud) mode:

  • A computer with Windows XP or later, including the standard Windows Remote Desktop Client (K2 does not test non-windows Remote Desktop Clients and cannot guarantee that other Remote Desktop clients will work as expected)
  • Internet access (256kbps minimum, 1mbps or faster is recommended)
  • A mouse is recommended. Touchpads will work but can be restrictive
  • Remote Desktop or Remote Desktop Gateway ports enabled on firewalls. To verify whether a computer will be able to access the cloud-based hosted environment, please refer to the following K2 Knowledge Base article: http://help.k2.com/KB001279.aspx.

For scheduled events such as training, participants should check that they are able to access the virtual machine as described in the Knowledge Base article http://help.k2.com/KB001279.aspx, and address any issues before the event is scheduled to start. The instances are usually only available for the duration of the event and are automatically decommissioned once the training has completed. If you need to use this approach for a different requirement, or need to extend the instance, please contact your local K2 office or your K2 representative since they may be able to assist for exceptional cases.  

Performance

If you install additional software or any Windows Updates it may trigger the .NET Framework Optimization Service (mscorsvw.exe). This service optimizes the .NET assemblies and may spike the CPU and memory footprint of the image, making it unresponsive for several minutes and in some cases more than 30 minutes. It is recommended that you run this script proactively after installing additional software to control when this optimization takes place. If no assemblies need optimization the script will complete within seconds.

For more information and to download this script, see Wondering why mscorsvw.exe has high CPU usage? You can speed it up.

Known Issue

Your web sites may become unreachable and you may see a failure starting the Net.Msmq Listener Adapter service. This usually indicates that the applicationhost.config file has become corrupt. See the following post for details on fixing this issue: http://trshelpdesk.com/kb/a180/fixing-corrupted-applicationhost_config-file-in-iis-7.aspx

On-Demand Cloud-Hosted Instances

Organizations with valid K2 Partner agreements can request cloud-based, hosted instances on demand via the K2 Partner site. This option is normally used when K2 partner resources wish to complete any of the standard K2 Learning exercises on their own, or if they need a 'sandbox' environment for testing purposes. Note that these on-demand, cloud-based environments are not intended for long-duration use and should not be used for development of real-world projects: they are intended for training, demonstration and testing purposes only.

For scheduled events such as training, the virtual machines will be provisioned by K2: participants do not need to request their own on-demand instances before the course starts.

Please note: New requests for cloud-based, hosted instances on demand are currently not available as we are in the process of migrating to Windows Azure. We will communicate to partners once new instances are able to be requested.