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Lab Exam Virtual Machine Image

Project ID: 
Current stage: 

Description: Produce a VM Image which allows a variant of the current DICE Lab Exam environment to be provided on non-DICE hardware.


  • Secure VM Environment on IS Labs
  • Secure VM Environment on DICE lab desktops
  • Virtual Machine Image which can be deployed to both of the above
  • Backend on DICE servers which allows existing exam functions to work with the above
  • Why: 


    Case statement: As class sizes exceed lab capacity and the popularity of the lab-exam format for assessment increases, it will be necessary to find a mechanism to allow all students to take an exam simultaneously in a way which does not disadvantage any students.



    Timescales: Preferably in time for next year's mock exam diet.


    A rough estimate follows.


    • The requirement to perform much of this work offsite and in collaboration with other schools will contribute to latency and effort, the latter of which is hopefully accounted for here.
    • The below does not include CSO time which should be assumed at approximately 25% of the defiend FTE for starred* and 50% for double-starred** items.
    1. 1-2 FTE weeks image creation
    2. 3* FTE week image application management, of which
      1. 1 wk initial environment creation
      2. 2 wks application / environment management tools
    3. 2 FTE week redevelopment of paper retrieval / submission tools
    4. 3 FTE week redevelopment of server-side tools, of which:
      1. 1 wk support of paper retrieval / submission
      2. 2 wks logging, backup and recovery mechanisms
    5. 3-5* FTE week image deployment and runtime mechanism, of which:
      1. 1-2 wk DICE lab deployment incl. redevelopment of "Exam Mode"
      2. 2-3 wks IS lab deployment
    6. 3-5** FTE weeks testing, of which
      1. 1-2 wks (lab / firewall) security testing
      2. 2-3 wks procedural and application testing

    Risks to the above lie in assumptions made on:

    • Virtualisation technology
    • Chosen OS / release for exam image
    • Ability to achieve parity with teaching software requirements
    • ??


    Resources: Will require significant CSO time to assist in physical lab configuration
    Will require IS' CO time for IS lab consultation and configuration

    Plan: See time below for the rough outline.



    Dependencies: IS Public Lab environment.


  • Risk that one or more of the given environments cannot be secured adequately
  • High risk of unforeseen obstacles on IS equipment given our lack of knowledge in this area
  • Risk that IS cannot devote the effort required
  • Risk that project costs more than the repeated setting of multiple (staggered) exams
  • Risk the development overruns past exam setting / sitting deadlines
  • Milestones

    Proposed date Achieved date Name Description