Archive of 2017 What’s new

December 2017 What’s new

The December 2017 release included:

New HTML5-based Speedtest

The Skytap Cloud Speedtest now uses HTML5 instead of Flash to check your network connectivity to our regions. The updated version is located at the same URL as the previous Speedtest site: http://speedtest.skytap.com.

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Try it now

 

Speedtest checks several features of your network connection, including:

  • Ping (Latency)
  • Jitter
  • Download/Upload (Bandwidth speed)

The Java-based Firewall and Packet Loss tests that were part of the previous Flash-based site have been retired.

For more information about using the new Speedtest and interpreting the test results, see Testing bandwidth and latency with Speedtest.

Faster auditing reports

Skytap Cloud has made behind-the-scenes changes to improve the speed and performance of auditing reports.

For information about these reports, see Generating audit reports.

November 2017 What’s new

The November 2017 release included:

Updates to the Current Usage page

The new Current Usage page has been updated with several changes:

  1. Power VM usage is now displayed on this page. Power VMs are available to support AIX workloads.
  2. The UI controls for enabling, disabling, or editing bursting capacity have changed from a link to a gear icon.

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For more information about this page, see Account usage overview – Current Usage page.

Updates to class and lab states in the Classrooms extension

Skytap has removed non-recoverable class error states (Provisioning error, Starting error, and Shutdown error) from the Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension workflow.

If the Classrooms extension encounters an error while automatically creating a lab or changing the runstate for a lab environment, it will add an error message to the lab and continue with the automated actions on the remaining labs in the class.

As part of this change:

  • The class status shows where the class is in its scheduled lifecycle (Scheduled, In Progress, Expired, etc.).
  • Each lab provides more granular information about its status (Provisioned, Started, Deleted, etc.). For more information, see Check the status of a lab.
  • Lab errors are recoverable from either the Skytap Cloud web interface or the Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension web interface. Most errors can be resolved by retrying the provisioning step or manually changing the VM or environment runstate.

To more easily locate classes with any type of error, we’ve also improved the Error status filter. This now shows any classes that have 0 labs, a missing template, or lab environments with error messages.

For help viewing and resolving errors, see Troubleshoot issues with classes or lab environments.

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The Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension adds lab and class management features to your Skytap Cloud account.

October 2017 What’s new

The October 2017 release features AIX General Availability (GA).

AIX General Availability (GA)

AIX is now available to all Skytap Cloud customers. After AIX is enabled in your account, you’ll be able to:

Access licensed AIX public templates

The Skytap Cloud public template library includes VMs with license and pre-installed versions of AIX:

  • AIX 7.1 TL 4 SP4
  • AIX 7.2 TL 1 SP2

These virtual machines can be added to existing environments, or used to create new environments in Skytap Cloud.

If you’d rather import AIX LPARs from your on-premises data center into Skytap Cloud, see our import instructions.

Use Power VMs side-by-side with your x86 VMs

Skytap Cloud virtual environments let you manage multiple virtual machines and complex networks as a single unit. Your environment can contain a mix of x86 virtual machines (featuring Linux and Windows operating systems) and Power virtual machines (featuring AIX operating systems). The environment can be copied, saved as a template, and shared with other users.

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The Skytap Cloud user interface displays the types of VMs in the environment.

Monitor and control Power VMs usage

Administrators can add user and department usage limits to control Power SVM usage in the account. wn

Additionally, Skytap Cloud usage reports have been updated to show usage by type (x86 SVMs and Power SVMs).

To enable your account for AIX, contact your Skytap Cloud sales representative.

September 2017 What’s new

The September 2017 release includes several new features:

New Current Usage page

Information about current, account-wide usage has been added to a new Current Usage page for administrators. This page provides a visual presentation of the usage information and limit controls on the Settings page.

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From the new page, administrators can:

  1. View the current billing cycle and the regions enabled in your account.
  2. View account-wide and regional usage of:
    • SVM hours
    • Concurrent SVMs
    • Storage
  3. Enable or disable usage “bursting” above the account subscription limit.
  4. Export a CSV report with information about current usage and limits for each type of usage, or provide feedback about the new design.

For more information, see Account usage overview - Current Usage page.

“Usage” reporting page has been renamed “Reporting”

The Usage page has been renamed Reporting. The Reporting page is used to generate custom reports about past usage in your account.

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For more information, see Generating usage reports.

Updates to usage module on the dashboard

The usage module on the dashboard has also been updated to match the new current usage page.

In the company limits section, any usage over the account subscription limit is displayed in the new bursting usage bar.

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  1. The amount of the resource available for use.
  2. The amount of the resource currently in use.
  3. The subscription limit for the resource.
  4. The amount of resource over the subscription limit available for use (the burst limit).
  5. The amount of resource over the subscription limit in use.

For more information, see the Guide to the Dashboard.

VM users can change the keyboard language layout from the SRA browser client

The SRA browser client now gives Skytap Cloud users or sharing portal users the ability to change the VM Keyboard layout.

The Keyboard layout setting affects:

  • The on-screen keyboard displayed when Show Keyboard is selected.
  • How the keystrokes from the user’s local keyboard are interpreted by the VM.

For best performance, the keyboard layout setting should match the user’s local, physical keyboard and the language settings in the VM guest operating system. For more information, see Using an international keyboard with a VM..

HTML5 Client Keyboard VM client keyboard shortcuts

This setting affects only the individual user’s SRA browser session. It does not affect other users’ SRA sessions to the same VM, and it does not change the Keyboard mapping setting on the VM hardware settings page.

Support for additional keyboard layouts in the SRA browser client

Skytap Cloud now supports the following additional keyboard mappings in the SRA browser client.

  • Dutch-Belgium
  • Dutch-Netherlands
  • French-Belgium
  • Portuguese-Brazil
  • Spanish-Mexico

For best performance, your local keyboard should match the selected Keyboard layout and VM guest operating system language settings. For more information, see Using an international keyboard with a VM.

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SRA browser client with Portuguese-Brazil layout

August 2017 What’s new

The August 2017 release included:

Dynamic public IP addresses with Skytap-managed DNS service

Skytap Cloud now offers two types of public IP addresses in your account:

  • Static public IP addresses
  • Dynamic public IP addresses that pair with Skytap Cloud’s new managed DNS service

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When you select Add Public IP with DNS for a VM, Skytap Cloud automatically:

  • Creates a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for the VM. The VM is accessible from the public Internet via this FQDN.
  • Attaches a public IP address to the VM while it is running.

Compared to static public IP addresses, dynamic public IP addresses with DNS have several benefits. They:

  • Remove VM dependencies on shared public IP addresses; when you run a VM, it can use any available public IP address in your account.
  • More efficiently use public IP address resources. The VM consumes a public IP address only while it is running; the public IP address is automatically released when the VM is suspended or shut down.

This new option does not affect any VMs that already use static public IP addresses. Going forward, the public IP addresses in your account can be manually attached to VMs as static public IP addresses or automatically attached to VMs as dynamic public IPs by the managed DNS service. Additionally, you can continue to use other access methods (sharing portals, SRA browser client, etc.) with VMs that use dynamic public IP addresses with DNS.

To learn more, see:

Administrators: Learn more about managing static and dynamic public IP address in your account.

Updates to the Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension

Based on customer feedback, we’ve added several commonly-requested features to the Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension. You can now:

Add and remove labs after a class is provisioned and while it is In progress

Add lab environments for last-minute class attendees or remove lab environments for students who dropped the class. For more information, see Add or remove labs.

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Automatically run and shut down lab environments each day in a multi-day class

Shut down your labs to limit SVM usage during periods of class inactivity. This setting can also be changed while a class is In Progress. For more information about this and other class settings, see Create and schedule a class.

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Switch between the Main Skytap Cloud view and the Classrooms extension

If you have access to the Classrooms extension, a new navigation item lets you easily switch between both sides of your Skytap Cloud account.

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What is the Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension? The Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension simplifies the process of creating and managing training lab environments with your Skytap Cloud account. The Classrooms extension adds new UI and REST API resources that automate and schedule bulk operations for building labs and adding student and instructor access.

  • For more information, see the Skytap Cloud Classrooms extension help documentation.
  • To sign up for a trial or to learn more about pricing, contact your Skytap Cloud sales representative.

Support for VM hardware version 11

Skytap has added support for VMs on hardware version 11. These VMs can now be directly imported into Skytap Cloud.

Power VM usage management (AIX private beta)

In the most recent beta update, Skytap Cloud has added AIX VM quota management. Now account administrators can use standard Skytap Cloud management tools to independently control user, department, and regional usage for both x86 and Power VMs.

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Notes

  • Storage quota is shared for all VM types (x86 and Power).
  • You can’t limit SVM Hours for AIX VMs in Skytap Cloud.

For information about how AIX support in Skytap Cloud can help you migrate your AIX workloads to the cloud, see the FAQ section of AIX support in Skytap Cloud.

July 2017 What’s new

The July 2017 release included the following features:

Support for international keyboard layouts in the SRA on-screen keyboard

The on-screen keyboard in the SRA browser client now supports many international keyboard layouts.

Where possible, the on-screen keyboard layout matches the Keyboard Mapping selected on the VM Hardware settings page. Previously, all VMs displayed an English (US) on-screen keyboard, regardless of the selected Keyboard Mapping.

The following keyboard mappings are supported by SRA:

  • English (us)
  • English (uk)
  • Finnish/Swedish (fi)
  • French (fr)
  • German (de)
  • Italian (it)
  • Norwegian (no)
  • Spanish (es)

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SRA browser client with German keyboard layout

For best performance, your local keyboard should match the selected Keyboard Mapping and VM guest operating system language settings. For more information, see Using an international keyboard with a VM.

June 2017 What’s new

The June 2017 release included the following features:

Skytap Cloud user and instructor access for Classrooms extension (private beta)

In the second major phase of the Classrooms extension beta release, we’ve added new ways to share access to classes and courses.

Skytap Cloud administrators can now:

  • Give a Skytap Cloud user access to Classrooms extension
    Administrators can give Skytap standard users and users managers access to create courses and schedule classes in Classrooms extension. Previously, only Skytap Cloud administrators could use Classrooms extension.
  • Give an instructor access to a class management view, even if the instructor does not have a Skytap Cloud account
    Each class includes a password-protected access link for instructors. Use this link to share the class management view with instructors who do not have Skytap Cloud user accounts.

For more information about both types of access, see Managing access to the Classrooms extension.

AIX private beta launch

Skytap recently announced AIX On-Demand Instances. AIX On-Demand Instances introduces the ability to create powerful, blended environments with AIX workloads (running on Power Systems), and Linux and Windows workloads (running on x86 architecture). Like other Skytap environments, these can be templatized, cloned, and provisioned in just minutes.

This month, private beta customers can begin exploring AIX On-Demand Instances.

Learn more on our website

VM audio improvements

Skytap Cloud supports VM audio input and output via a special RDP connection type in the Secure Remote Access (SRA) browser client.

This month, we’re introducing two enhancements:

  • Support for Windows Server 2016 VMs

    For instructions about configuring Windows Server 2016 VMs to use audio over RDP, see Enabling audio for a VM.

  • VM preview image in SRA browser client session

    To give you better visibility while the RDP session is waiting to load, the browser client now displays a thumbnail preview of the VM desktop.

    This thumbnail is displayed after the VM is booted and as soon as the operating system becomes responsive. A spinning icon indicates the RDP session is still waiting to load. If you see an error message on the VM, or if the RDP session doesn’t start, you can easily switch out of the RDP session to troubleshoot the VM. For more information, see Using audio with a VM.

    The VM thumbnail image will also appear briefly while the VM is loading in standard browser client sessions.

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Updated dialog for editing user and department usage limits

We’ve updated the look and feel of the dialog windows for editing user and department usage limits.

As part of this change, the Do not set a limit option is now named Use max. When Use max is selected, no limit is applied.

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For information about setting user and department limits, see Setting usage limits.

Security improvement: end of support for TLS v1.0 (June 6, 2017)

Skytap Cloud uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to secure the connection between your local browser and Skytap Cloud (https://cloud.skytap.com). On June 6, 2017, Skytap is ending support for TLS v1.0. If you use a recent version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, or Internet Explorer 11 to access https://cloud.skytap.com, this change is unlikely to affect you (TLS v1.1 and v1.2 are supported by these browsers by default).

If you use an unsupported browser, or if you have scripts and custom applications, you must make sure your browser and scripts can support TLS v1.1 or v1.2. For more information, see our notice about the TLS v1.0 deprecation.

May 2017 What’s new

The May 2017 release included the following features:

Skytap integration for Canvas

The Skytap integration for Canvas is a new Canvas application that gives students access to on-demand Skytap lab environments during their self-paced training courses. This application automates the steps for creating and managing virtual lab environments, allowing students to quickly provision their own lab environments for applied, hands-on training.

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With the Skytap integration for Canvas, instructors add Skytap module(s) to a Canvas LMS course. When the student clicks Create Lab in a Skytap module, the Skytap integration for Canvas automatically:

  • Provisions a student lab environment from a Skytap Cloud template. The lab environment includes pre-configured virtual machines and networks.
  • Starts the VMs in the environment.
  • Provides the student with sharing portal access to the lab environment.
  • (Optional) Deletes the lab environment at a specific time or after a certain number of hours, days, or weeks to help manage storage and SVM usage.

To get started, see Install and configure the Skytap integration for Canvas.

The Skytap Cloud dashboard now features links to Skytap Academy courses that teach you how to build, use, and manage virtual environments in Skytap Cloud. Use the free, self-paced courses to train new employees or expand your own Skytap Cloud skills.

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Don’t see Getting Started in your dashboard? Click Display Settings to edit the Getting Started display settings.

Take control of a shared VM audio session

In March 2017, Skytap Cloud introduced support for VM audio input and output over the Secure Remote Access (SRA) browser client. This release, we’ve improved the experience for sharing control of audio input to a VM.

When multiple users are connected to the same VM from different browser sessions:

  • The first user to connect to the VM via an RDP browser session controls the VM and audio input.
  • The second user has a read-only view of the VM, with audio output but no audio input. This user can click Take Control to gain control of the VM (and VM audio input). The first user’s view flips to the read-only view. The first user can regain control of the VM by clicking Take Control.

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The Take Control option appears only for VMs enabled for VM audio over RDP browser client sessions. It does not affect other shared, over-the-shoulder browser sessions. For more information, see Using audio with a VM.

VM audio support is available by request.

  • If you are a primary administrator, contact support@skytap.com to enable this feature for your account. Include your name, email address, and the name of your organization. After this feature is added to your account, you can enable audio on a per-VM basis.
  • If you are a standard user or administrator, work with your primary administrator to request this feature.

Edit end date and cleanup options for in-progress classes (Classrooms extension private beta)

In Classrooms extension, the class end date and cleanup options can now be edited after lab environments are provisioned or while a class is In progress. Previously, these values had been locked in a read-only mode after the class was provisioned. This change allows you to extend a class or prevent automatic shutdown or deletion, if needed.

Classrooms extension is a new, add-on product that extends your Skytap Cloud account and makes it easier to create, deliver, and delete training lab environments. To learn more about Classrooms extension, see Classrooms extension (private beta).

April 2017 What’s new

The April 2017 release included the following features:

VM audio improvements

In March 2017, Skytap Cloud introduced support for VM audio input and output over the Secure Remote Access (SRA) browser client. This release, we’ve made several improvements to enhance your VM audio experience.

April 2017 updates:

  • Reduced audio output bandwidth consumption by over 300%. Users will see improved performance when using VM audio output.
  • Added UI indicators to show VM audio input status for multiple user sessions. When multiple users are connected to the same VM at the same time, only one user can control the audio input.

    The first user to connect to the VM receives control.

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    Other users will see the following tooltip message:

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  • Resolved bug that affected the VM clipboard when RDP was enabled.
  • Updated instructions for Enabling audio for a VM. Removed steps for creating a Windows Task to restart the audio service; added instructions for disabling Network Level Authentication for RDP.
  • Added instructional videos.

To learn more about using VM audio, see Enabling audio for a VM and Using audio with a VM.

VM audio support is available by request.

  • If you are a primary administrator, contact support@skytap.com to enable this feature for your account. Include your name, email address, and the name of your organization. After this feature is added to your account, you can enable audio on a per-VM basis.
  • If you are a standard user or administrator, work with your primary administrator to request this feature.

Classrooms extension improvements (private beta)

Classrooms extension is a new, add-on product that extends your Skytap Cloud account and makes it easier to create, deliver, and delete training lab environments. We introduced Classrooms extension in the March 2017 release.

Based on early feedback we’ve received from our beta customers, we’ve made the following improvements:

  • Increased the maximum number of labs per course to 20.
  • Made the class status more informative when the class contains 0 labs. If no labs have been added to a class, the class status is now Incomplete.
  • Added indicator of lab environment status on the Class Details page. This makes it easier to see when lab environments are associated with the class.

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    Lab environment status is N/A. The lab environment does not exist, either because it has not been created (before the class) or it has been deleted (after the class).

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    Lab environment status is Created. The lab environment has been created and is available. This status persists until the lab environment is deleted by Classrooms extension.

To learn more, view the Classrooms extension help documentation.

Skytap plugin for ServiceNow (tech preview)

The Skytap plugin for ServiceNow is a Cloud Management plugin that lets you request, provision, and manage Skytap Cloud environments through the ServiceNow delivery platform.

The Skytap plugin for ServiceNow:

  • Enables environment self-service by adding golden templates for Skytap training environments, demo environments, and dev/test environments to your IT catalog. Managers within your account can promote any templates from your Skytap account to the catalog.
  • Controls usage by requiring a start date and end date for each requested environment. The environment is automatically created and deleted according to this schedule.
  • Provides more detailed usage reporting by allowing managers to add or require usage labels for environment. These labels track environment usage by label category and value (such as customer name or cost center).

The technical preview of the Skytap plugin includes workflows and building blocks for creating and provisioning sales demo environments. In subsequent releases, Skytap will add workflows for other uses cases. In the meantime, administrators who understand ServiceNow workflow concepts can create their own workflows using the building blocks provided in this plugin.

For more information and to get started, see Skytap plugin for ServiceNow (beta).

March 2017 What’s new

The March 2017 release included the following features:

Containers GA release

All of our Docker container and container registry features have graduated out of beta release and into general availability.

With container management capabilities built into the Skytap web interface and REST APIs, you can create, deploy, and manage Docker containers on container host VMs. Containerized and non-containerized application components live side-by-side in a single environment that can be cloned, shared, and suspended.

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To get started with containers in Skytap Cloud, see Using Docker containers in Skytap Cloud (an overview).

Support for VM audio input and output

The Secure Remote Access (SRA) browser client now supports two audio options for Windows Server VMs: audio output and audio input/output. After a VM is configured to support audio, the browser client toolbar displays the available audio options to signed-in Skytap Cloud users and sharing portal users. You don’t need any special hardware to use this feature—the browser client uses your local computer microphone and speaker to transmit audio to and from the VM.

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VM audio expands your virtual training capabilities and enhances over-the-shoulder troubleshooting. For example, students can learn audio-dependent features of your application directly from the Skytap Cloud VM. Or, one user can work with a VM and narrate the troubleshooting steps while another user watches and learns.

This feature is available by request.

  • If you are a primary administrator, contact support@skytap.com to enable this feature across your account. Include your name, email address, and the name of your organization.
  • If you are a standard user or administrator, work with your primary administrator to request this feature.

After this feature is added to your account, you can enable audio on a per VM basis. To learn more, see Enabling audio for a VM and Using audio with a VM.

Classrooms extension (private beta)

Classrooms extension is a new, add-on product that extends your Skytap Cloud account and makes it easier to create, deliver, and delete training lab environments. Classrooms extension introduces a new web interface and REST API resources that:

  • Automatically provision, run, and delete lab environments based on defined class schedules.
  • Perform the bulk operations needed to create multiple lab environments from the same template and add student access.
  • Reuse the same template, VM permissions, and custom content settings for multiple classes.

In addition to enhancing scheduling and automating common bulk actions, Classrooms extension also improves the instructor’s experience by introducing a new class management view. This view:

  • Displays all of the student lab environments from one window.
  • Grants instructors full access to their students’ lab environments.

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Classrooms extension is in private beta release. To learn more, view the Classrooms extension help articles.

Coming soon: Skytap AIX On-Demand Instances

Skytap recently announced AIX On-Demand Instances. AIX On-Demand Instances introduces the ability to create powerful, blended environments with AIX workloads (running on Power Systems), and Linux and Windows workloads (running on x86 architecture). Like other Skytap environments, these can be templatized, cloned, and provisioned in just minutes.

Read more on our blog

February 2017 What’s new

The February 2017 release included the following features

Integrated support for Docker container hosts and containers (Containers public beta)

Docker container support is now enabled for all Skytap customers.

Most visibly, the Environment Details page features a new Containers tab with advanced controls for interacting with containers running on container host VMs.

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From the Skytap web interface and REST API, you can now:

  1. Commission VMs as Docker container hosts
    • Designate VMs in your environment as container host VMs. Container host VMs are special VMs that communicate information about Docker containers through the Skytap web interface and REST API.
    • Filter a list of environments and templates by whether they contain container host VMs.
    • See which VMs in environments and templates are container hosts.
  2. Create containers from private and public Docker registries
  3. View and manage containers

Redesigned Public IP Addresses page

The Public IP Addresses page has been redesigned to help administrators more easily view and manage public IP addresses.

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  1. View the total number of public IP addresses in your account, with a breakdown of public IP addresses that are:
    • Attached to VMs or VPNs.
    • Unattached to any resources; these can be retained for future use, attached to resources, or released back into the general collection of Skytap Cloud public IP addresses.
    • Remaining available to your account; this number shows how many public IP addresses you can add.
  2. Filter the list of public IPs by region.
  3. Sort the list of public IPs:
    • Numerically.
    • By region.
    • By whether the public IP is attached to resources.
    • By the number of resources the public IP is attached to.

For general information about managing public IP addresses, see Managing public IP addresses.

Faster usage reporting

Skytap Cloud has made behind-the-scenes changes to improve the speed and performance of usage reporting.

For information about generating usage reports, see Generating reports.

January 2017 What’s new

The January 2017 release included several features for customers who have enrolled in the private Containers beta program:

About the Containers beta program The private Containers beta program exposes new features in your Skytap Cloud account that let you view, manage, and create containers from the web interface. Customers enrolled in the beta program are already realizing the advantages of using containers side-by-side with traditional, non-containerized components. In fact, since the initial release in August 2016, hundreds of container hosts have been created in Skytap Cloud!

Configure network settings and volumes for new containers

The Skytap Cloud Containers beta program lets you create containers using the Skytap web interface. With the January 2017 release, we’ve added more granular options for controlling the network settings and mounting volumes between the container host and the container.

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The Add container page now contains options for:

  • Networking
    • Choose which of the Docker networks a container is connected to.
    • Add port mappings to enable connections to containers from external networks.

      Combine port mapping with published services to enable connections from the public internet. For more information, see Accessing VMs with published services.

  • Port mapping – Make individual containers available to an outside network.
  • Specify a container Hostname and Domain name to enable Docker container DNS to find other containers on the host.
  • Data sharing – Mount up to 25 volumes from the container host onto the container. This enables persistent data storage that can be shared by all containers on the Docker engine host.

For more information about these options, see Adding containers to a container host.

Add a published service for a mapped port on the container

With a single click, you can now add a published service to allow traffic from the public Internet to the container. Combine port mapping with Skytap Cloud published services to enable connections to the container from external networks. Port mapping is used to route traffic from an external port opening, to the container host, and then to the container.

For more information, see Port mapping.

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Inspect container reports

You can now view the full docker inspect container report from the Skytap Cloud web interface.

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For older release notes dating back to 2011, contact support@skytap.com.