Monday, May 3, 2021
By Fuel HQ
Over the past few months, Fuel has been working to update the Fuel Virtual Lab, an environment where users can practice and get familiar with Palo Alto Networks PAN-OS releases. The pre-built lab environment provides access to desktop clients, Linux servers and Palo Alto Networks’ Next-Generation Firewall, and allows users to freely configure to test different features.
With the updated lab now available to Fuel members, we recently spoke with Charles Buege, Fuel User Group member and Editorial Advisory Committee member, and Franke Lau of Palo Alto Networks, on the new lab updates they’ve been working on, what users can look forward to testing and the future of the virtual lab.
What is the Fuel Virtual Lab?
Charles Buege (CB): The Fuel Virtual Lab is a playground where users can take the PAN-OS 10.X operating system for a drive and not risk breaking anything, while still working in a fully functional environment. About the only thing they won't have access to is incoming traffic from the outside world. Otherwise, you can set up servers on either Windows or Linux boxes, and define any kinds of policies that you want. You can even downgrade the PAN-OS box from 10.X to 9.X if you have an older environment and need to work with the older version of the PAN-OS. This lab gives you the flexibility to do nearly anything you need to.
Is the lab for everyone or is it geared toward specific types of cybersecurity professionals?
Franke Lau (FL): The Fuel Virtual Lab is geared toward cybersecurity professionals who are interested in Palo Alto Networks products. At this point, the Fuel Virtual Lab is focused on a Palo Alto Networks’ Next-Generation Firewall product.
CB: Additionally, this lab will grant those who are not fortunate enough to have access to their own lab environment a chance to play and test out new configurations without risking their production environments. This playground is very important, especially in today's world of tightening purse strings and not being able to spend as much money on non-essential systems. This test lab will allow those Fuel members the ability to work with the PAN-OS and still learn while protecting their company's bottom line.
Tell us about the lab update process. What did it entail and what new features will the lab have that members will be able to take advantage of?
FL: In this new update, we have updated the lab environment with the latest PAN-OS releases which, in turn, made many new features that are available on the latest PAN-OS available for users to play with.
CB: We have worked with a talented group of people to get this lab up to version 10.X for a couple months now. While we wish we had gotten to do this sooner, now that it is up to version 10, we have plans in place to keep this lab up to date. We are looking for input and requests from the public for ways to extend and offer other “to-dos” that we can incorporate into the lab in the future that people can work with to improve their skill set.
What versions of PAN-OS can be tested in the updated virtual lab?
FL: PAN-OS 10.0 is used.
CB: For those who need to do any testing of PAN-OS 9.X, the lab can be downgraded to 9.X for anyone needing that version. This is a very important capability for anyone looking to test compatibility between versions for any of their security or network address translation (NAT) policy rules or any other cross-version functionality.
What should users know about the lab updates before signing up for a test lab?
FL: Each request to use the lab will give the user one-time access to a virtual environment for four hours. The clock starts after the user logs into the lab. Users should set aside some time to explore and use the virtual lab environment.
CB: The four hours users have need to be continuous. They can't break up the four hours into two hours one day and two hours another. Of course, users can request the lab multiple times.
For many Fuel members, this is the first time they will be testing the new PAN-OS versions. What advice or tips do you have for them as they begin testing?
FL: If the users have experience with an older PAN-OS release, they will find that the new look and feel of the latest PAN-OS will be different yet familiar, as the overall structure of the graphical user interface (GUI) remains the same. The latest PAN-OS GUI has brand new color schemes, icons, etc., but current PAN-OS users should feel right at home.
For Fuel members who have used the lab before, what can the updated lab offer them?
FL: With PAN-OS and the other virtual machines being updated, Fuel members should find a more modern virtual lab for exploration and learning.
Is there anything else you want to share?
CB: The lab will undergo monthly to bi-monthly updates to make sure that the PAN-OS version is always at the latest to nearly latest version, so we make sure everyone has the most recent code available to them. Additionally, as we at Fuel get more and more feedback for additional functionality from our users, we will try to incorporate new capabilities. We will do what we can, but as we move forward, we want this lab to be able to grow and allow Fuel users the ability to work with Palo Alto Networks’ products in such a way that we can let them see what is out there in a controlled manner, while still getting a chance to "play" with the latest, greatest tools that Palo Alto Networks has a reputation for providing to their customers.
The Fuel Virtual Lab has limitations to the number of people that can access it at any one time. If you are interested in utilizing the virtual lab, please submit a request.
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