Big Data Lab FAQ

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What is the Big Data Lab used for?

The Big Data Lab consists of a computer lab and data center. The data center hosts student virtual machines on the VMware vSphere platform and is used for lab assignments, research, storing data, and running CPU intensive calculations.

What classes use the Big Data Lab?

Although any Computer Science class is welcome to use these facilities, the lab is most frequently used for Software Engineering (CSC 190), Operating Systems (CSC 112), Web Application Development (CSC 183/283), Senior Design projects, and special topic classes such as Ethical hacking (CSC 115/215), The Semantic Web (CSC 150/250), etc.

What is a Virtual Machine (VM)?

A Virtual Machine (VM) is a software implementation of a computing environment in which an Operating System (OS) can run. The environment is created by specialized software, called a hypervisor, which simulates hardware resources and mimics a physical computer by translating the OS’s requests to the underlying physical hardware of the host system through a virtualization layer. The OS running in the VM, known as the guest operating system, is fully independent from the host system the VM runs on. Virtualization makes it possible to logically partition a machine and thus run multiple operating systems concurrently on a single physical computer system.

How do I access VMs in the Big Data Lab?

You may first need to connect to a VPN, depending on how and from where you are going to access a VM (see below). Once connected to the VPN (where required), you may follow these directions to access your VM.

Off Campus

Use of the VPN is needed for all forms of remote access from off campus. To connect to the VPN from your laptop or home computer, you need to install an OpenVPN client and obtain a client profile from

Once you are connected to the VPN, follow these directions to access your VM.

Campus WiFi (eduroam)

The vSphere Client and OpenNebula are available on eduroam without VPN access.

However, to access your VM(s) though the VMware Remote Console (VMRC), Remote Desktop, or SSH, you must first connect to the VPN. Install the OpenVPN client or Tunnelblick (Mac) and obtain a client profile from

Once you are connected to the VPN, follow these directions to access your VM through the vSphere Client, Remote Desktop, or SSH.

Hofstra lab computers

Adams Hall, Weed Hall, Weller Hall, and C.V. Starr:

A VPN connection is not needed to access VMs on Hofstra lab computers in Adams Hall and Weed Hall. VPN access is also not required on lab computers in C.V. Starr and Weller Hall, except for VDI labs.

Hammer and Calkins Labs (Open Access Labs) and VDI labs:

To access VMs from the Open Access Labs, you must use the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client. Open it and connect to When prompted, enter your username preceeded by “students\” or “employees\”, e.g. students\h702345678.

What am I allowed to use a VM for? Are there any restrictions?

Use of the Hofstra Network and University resources shall be governed by the Acceptable Use Guidelines (AUG) and must comply with all University policies, rules and regulations as well as all local, state and federal laws. Additionally, users of licensed software must comply with the terms and provisions of the applicable End User License Agreements (EULAs).

Compute resources of the Big Data Lab may not be used in a manner that would violate the Acceptable Use Guidelines, although some exceptions are made for educational and research purposes where expressly permitted. These exceptions apply for limited purposes in a controlled environment only. The following exceptions are explicitly permitted in designated lab facilities for the sole purpose of academic research, special projects, or coursework in connection with an applicable class (such as CSC 115/215) or authorized research project:

  • Capturing and monitoring network transmissions
  • Locally hosted services
  • Hacking or attempting to circumvent security on another computer

Why can’t I access my virtual machine from the Hofstra network?

You need to first connect to the VPN to access VMs in the Big Data Lab throughout the campus, except in Adams Hall, Weed Hall, Weller Hall, and C.V. Starr. Also, a VPN connection is needed to access VMs from any device connected to eduroam, even in one of the aforementioned buildings.