CloudShare Pro enables IT professionals, engineers, vendors and enterprise organizations to create private, virtual machine-, Web-based environments in which to host demonstrations, conduct tests, perform training and more. Users can create snapshots to enable fast recovery in the event tests crash a system and share environments with other users, among other features. The result is a powerful cloud-based tool many technology professionals may wonder how they lived without.
- Product: CloudShare Pro
- Browser Requirements: Google Chrome 4.x or later, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.x or later, Mozilla FireFox 3.x or later
- Licensing: OS licenses are provided by CloudShare
- Support options: CloudShare Pro support is provided using Web-based support forums; limited email and phone options exist. CloudShare Enterprise users receive email and live telephone support.
- Operating systems (available within VM environments):
- CentOS 5 - bare, or with KDE, MySQL, or RubyOnRails pre-installed
- Windows 7 Professional
- Windows XP Professional - bare, or with Office 2010 or Office 2007 pre-installed
- Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition - bare, or with SQL Server 2008, CRM Dynamics, or Active Directory pre-installed
- Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition - bare, or with Oracle 11g or Microsoft Sharepoint pre-installed
- Price: CloudShare Pro Beta is free; CloudShare Enterprise pricing is based on seats/usage/application
- More Info: CloudShare Pro
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Who's it for?
CloudShare enables enterprise IT staff, software and hardware manufacturers, sales personnel, training departments and others to create secure virtual machine-, Web-based computing environments. These environments can then be used to power training sessions, conduct testing, provide support, conduct demos, perform evaluations and much more.
What problem does it solve?
CloudShare eliminates the need for enterprise IT staff, sales departments, trainers and others to have to maintain various disparate hardware and software platforms. By moving the infrastructure to the cloud, these users receive the benefits of Web-based tools supported and maintained by a third party within a sound data center. Included Snapshot support also makes it simple for organizations to drop back to earlier OS "snapshots," should testing, changes or other events introduce corruption or system crashes, thereby speeding recovery of the virtual machine systems.
- Wide OS Support: CloudShare includes numerous templates for loading a variety of operating system environments, including CentOS 5, Windows 7 Professional, Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition or Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition. CloudShare authors can also choose to add a variety of applications to select operating systems, including Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle 11g, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, MySQL and Ruby on Rails. Alternatively, users can load their own virtual machines (including vmWare installs) using CloudShare's FastUpload feature.
- Licenses Included: When creating or loading a CloudShare virtual environment, users need not provide the licenses. CloudShare includes licenses for Windows operating systems and applications.
- CloudShare Pro Service Is Free: CloudShare Pro, which possesses some limitations (more on those below) versus the out-of-beta CloudShare Enterprise offering, is free. Further, CloudShare representatives promise beta users should be confident that there will be a free CloudShare even in general availability. CloudShare Enterprise pricing, meanwhile, is based on a per-seat and/or per-demo basis. But again, pricing includes all machines, storage, bandwidth, networking, operating system licenses and ancillary software (such as databases, e-mail servers and leading vendor applications).
- File Sharing: CloudShare authors can share files hosted within their virtual environment systems with users outside CloudShare. In fact, authorized users can drag-and-drop files between their virtual environment system and their own computers, further simplifying and enhancing the virtual machine's value.
- Services Dependent Upon Third Party: Like any SaaS offering, users are dependent upon the host (CloudShare, in this case) to maintain, back up and properly secure its servers and networks. However, passing these responsibilities to a third-party provider means the organization is free to focus its efforts and resources on other projects and initiatives.
- Purposeful CloudShare Pro Limitations: CloudShare limits CloudShare Pro authors to six virtual environments (one in beta) and 10 monthly peer invites. CloudShare Enterprise subscribers, however, face no such limitations. CloudShare Enterprise subscribers also can invite and track Salesforce.com users, track and monitor partner-managed companies, review comprehensive analytics regarding traffic and usage, receive static IP addresses and more.
Bottom line for business
CloudShare offers a ready-made, flexible and scalable solution to organizations needing to quickly develop network and server architecture at no expense or competitive cost. Despite the purposeful restrictions (minimal environments, limited monthly sharing requests, fewer support options, etc.) within the CloudShare Pro service, the product is incredibly compelling. The subsequent opportunities are simply tantalizing. Companies struggling to add a single application server or testing environment can solve that issue and be up and running literally in minutes, while organizations anticipating rapid growth or the need for multiple testing environments can tap the optional Enterprise service for their needs.
Have you encountered or used CloudShare Pro? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.