Create and manage a template in Azure Lab Services

A template in a lab is a base VM image from which all users' virtual machines are created. Modify the template VM so that it's configured with exactly what you want to provide to the lab users. You can provide a name and description of the template that the lab users see. Then, you publish the template to make instances of the template VM available to your lab users. When you publish a template, Azure Lab Services creates VMs in the lab using the template. The number of VMs created during publish equals lab capacity. If using Teams integration, or Canvas integration, the number of VMs created during publish equals the number of users in the lab. All virtual machines have the same configuration as the template.

When you create a lab, the template VM is created but it's not started. You can start it, connect to it, and install any pre-requisite software for the lab, and then publish it. When you publish the template VM, it's automatically shut down for you if you haven't done so. This article describes how to manage a template VM of a lab.


Template VMs incur cost when running, so ensure that the template VM is shutdown when you aren't using it.

Set or update template title and description

Use the following steps to set title and description for the lab. Educators and students will see the title and description on the tiles of the My Virtual Machines page.

  1. On the Template page, enter the new title for the lab.

  2. Enter the new description for the template. When you move the focus out of the text box, it's automatically saved.

    Template name and description

Update a template VM

Use the following steps to update a template VM.

  1. On the Template page for the lab, select Start template on the toolbar.

  2. Wait until the template VM is started, and then select Connect to template on the toolbar to connect to the template VM. Depending on the setting for the lab, you'll connect using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Secure Shell (SSH).

  3. Once you connect to the template and make changes, it will no longer have the same setup as the virtual machines last published to your users. Template changes won't be reflected on your students' existing virtual machines until after you publish again.

    Connect to the template VM

  4. Install any software that's required for students to do the lab (for example, Visual Studio, Azure Storage Explorer, etc.).

  5. Disconnect (close your remote desktop session) from the template VM.

  6. Stop the template VM by selecting Stop template.

  7. Follow steps in the next section to Publish the updated template VM.

Publish the template VM

In this step, you publish the template VM. When you publish the template VM, Azure Lab Services creates VMs in the lab by using the template. All virtual machines have the same configuration as the template.

  1. On the Template page, select Publish on the toolbar.

    Publish template button


    Publishing is a permanent action. It can't be undone.

  2. On the Publish template page, enter the number of virtual machines you want to create in the lab, and then select Publish.

    Publish template - number of VMs

  3. You see the status of publishing the template on page. If using Azure Lab Services August 2022 Update, publishing can take up to 20 minutes.

    Publish template - progress

  4. Wait until the publishing is complete and then switch to the Virtual machines pool page by selecting Virtual machines on the left menu or by selecting Virtual machines tile. Confirm that you see virtual machines that are in Unassigned state. These VMs aren't assigned to students yet. They should be in Stopped state. You can start a student VM, connect to the VM, stop the VM, and delete the VM on this page. You can start them in this page or let your students start the VMs.

    Virtual machines in stopped state

Known issues

When you create a new lab from an exported lab VM image, you’re unable to login with the credentials you used for creating the lab. Follow these steps to troubleshoot the login problem.

Next steps

See the following articles: