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Hot start a sandbox

Preheat your sandboxes.
This guide explains how to hot start a sandbox.
Hot starting is creating a pool of sandboxes that are instantly available when a learner starts your track. Typically, sandbox environments start on demand if a learner starts a track, so learners have to wait for Instruqt to provision the sandbox environment. But with hot starting, learners can play your tracks right away.
Billing hot start sandboxes
You are billed for hot start sandboxes, even if learners are not using them.

Hot start types

There are two types of hot start pools:
  • Always hot pool Always hot pools maintain a constant pool size over time and have the following features:
    • The pool remains active until you delete it.
    • Instruqt refills the pool if learners start tracks to maintain a constant pool size.
    • Instruqt removes unused sandboxes only if the pool is deleted.
    When to use an always hot pool?
    Create an always hot pool to maximize engagement for your learners by reducing load times. This is useful for self-paced training or lead generation as you expect learners to start tracks spread out.
  • Scheduled pools Scheduled pools are used to fill a pool with sandboxes once and have these features:
    • A scheduled pool is active from its start date until the pool expires.
    • Instruqt will not refill a scheduled pool if learners start tracks.
    • Instruqt removes unused sandboxes after the pool expires.
    When to use a scheduled pool?
    Create a scheduled pool to give your learners instant access to their sandboxes, so they do not have to wait and can all begin simultaneously. This is useful for classroom training or large workshops when you expect many learners to start a track simultaneously

Manage hot start pools

Create an always hot pool

Take the following steps to create an always hot pool:
🌐 Web UI
  1. 1.
    Open your browser and go to play.instruqt.com. ↳ Instruqt opens your Content page.
  2. 2.
    Click Team settings > Hot Start to open the Manage hot start page.
  3. 3.
    Click Create.
  4. 4.
    Select the tracks that you want to be preheated.
  5. 5.
    In the Name field, enter a name for the pool.
  6. 6.
    In the Number of hot sandboxes per track field, enter your desired number.
  7. 7.
    For Hot Start type, select Always hot.
  8. 8.
    Click Create. ↳ Instruqt creates the always hot pool and shows the pool on the Hot start page.
Be cost-effective
Start with a single instance in your hot start pool and increase the number if your learners experience delays. Since the pool refills automatically, you will rarely need more than four or five instances to ensure fast startup times for a steady flow of learners.

Create a scheduled pool

Take the following steps to create a scheduled pool:
🌐 Web UI
  1. 1.
    Open your browser and go to play.instruqt.com. ↳ Instruqt opens your Content page.
  2. 2.
    Click Team settings > Hot start to open the Manage hot start page.
  3. 3.
    Click Create.
  4. 4.
    Select the tracks that you want to be preheated.
  5. 5.
    In the Name field, enter a name for the pool.
  6. 6.
    In the Number of hot sandboxes per track field, enter your desired number.
  7. 7.
    For Hot Start type, select Scheduled.
  8. 8.
    In the Start provisioning on field, select or enter the starting date when the pool should begin provisioning.
  9. 9.
    Select the Starting time when the pool should begin provisioning.
  10. 10.
    Select the Time to live.
    After the time to live expires, Instruqt closes all unclaimed sandboxes.
  11. 11.
    Click Create. ↳ Instruqt creates the scheduled pool and shows the pool on the Hot start page.

Create a hot start pool from a track invite

It's possible to create a hot start pool from a track invite. To do so, take the following steps:
🌐 Web UI
  1. 1.
    Open your browser and go to play.instruqt.com. ↳ Instruqt opens your Content page.
  2. 2.
    Click Invites to open the Manage track invites page.
  3. 3.
    Click the ellipsis of the track invite you want to create a hot start pool for.
  4. 4.
    Click Create Hot Start pool on the pop-up. ↳ The Create Hot Start page opens, with the settings pre filled.
  5. 5.
    Check the settings and click Create to create the pool.

Duplicate a hot start pool

Duplicating a hot start pool is useful in the case you want to reuse the settings from an existing or expired hot start pool. To do so, take the following steps:
🌐 Web UI
  1. 1.
    Open your browser and go to play.instruqt.com. ↳ Instruqt opens your Content page.
  2. 2.
    Click Team settings > Hot start to open the Hot start page.
  3. 3.
    Click the ellipsis of the pool you want to delete.
  4. 4.
    Click Duplicate on the pop-up. ↳ The Create Hot Start page opens, with the settings pre filled.
  5. 5.
    Check the settings and click Create to create the pool.

Delete a hot start pool

Deleting a hot start pool takes the following steps:
🌐 Web UI
  1. 1.
    Open your browser and go to play.instruqt.com. ↳ Instruqt opens your Content page.
  2. 2.
    Click Team settings > Hot start to open the Hot start page.
  3. 3.
    Click the ellipsis of the pool you want to delete.
  4. 4.
    Click Delete on the pop-up. ↳ The Delete Hot Start confirmation opens.
  5. 5.
    Click Confirm.

FAQ

When you hot start a track, Instruqt pre-provisions sandboxes and runs all of the corresponding Track setup scripts. The initial challenge's setup script will not run until a user clicks Launch on your track. This means if the challenge setup script takes 3 minutes to complete, users will need to wait 3 minutes! You can mitigate this by placing as much configuration as possible in the initial Track setup script, and keeping the initial challenge setup script as simple as possible. Note: Certain user-related environment variables, such as INSTRUQT_USER_ID, will be empty if they are referenced within track setup scripts and hot started. In this case, you will need to leverage challenge setup scripts if you require those variables.
The answer is, of course, it depends! Generally speaking, we recommend scheduling your hot start pools at least an hour ahead of when you'll need them. If you have very complex and long running setup scripts, consider adding more time.
Instruqt provisions hot start pools incrementally. At first, only a small batch of sandboxes (~20) are provisioned. If all of the initial sandboxes deploy successfully, the amount of concurrent sandboxes provisioning increases. In the event errors are detected, Instruqt automatically reduces the number of concurrent sandboxes provisioning, preventing large of amounts of failures to occur.

Video tutorial

You can also watch this video tutorial for an explanation of how hot start works:
Awesome! Your learners will be very happy with you because you give them a headstart.