One of the more eagerly adopted cloud services thus far in 2010 has been CloudShare Pro. CloudShare Pro is a “light” version of CloudShare’s Enterprise level product and is aimed at individuals and small teams who want to quickly set up training, sales or testing environments in the cloud and share copies with other colleagues.
Free during its beta period; CloudShare Pro allows user to create up to six Linux or Windows VM’s, each with its own internal IP and outbound access to the internet. CloudShare Pro also allows users to create snapshots of their environments (the beta version only saves the latest snapshot) and supports drag and drop file sharing from a desktop environment.
At the time of this article CloudShare Pro offers Windows 7, Windows XP Professional, Windows Server 2008 and 2003 and CentOS 5 templates. These templates include the appropriate software licensing for installed applications such as Microsoft Office, SQL Server 2008 and Oracle 11g database.
One of the more innovative features of CloudShare Pro is the ability to share user created environments with other teams members or associates. Users have up to 10 invites that can be sent out at any one time to allow others to share created environments.
Once an invited user collaborates on an existing environment, the new user can then either use the environment as is or can click a link to become an environment author and create his/her own CloudShare Pro account and custom environments. This viral effect is unique amongst cloud providers and is partly responsible for the reported 1000 users who signed on and created new environments in the first 2 weeks of CloudShare Pro’s launch.
In its current beta state, CloudShare Pro has a few limitations that hopefully will be addressed prior to GA. One of the most glaring is the small amount of RAM and hard disk space allocated for the images. Windows XP server 2008 for example only has a 12 MB hard disk partition and 2gb of ram. This would preclude the use of Cloudshare Pro to lighter usage such as for demo systems or for sales teams vs the enterprise level environments that can be setup via CloudShare’s Enterprise product. In addition, although internal IP’s and networking are allowed, Cloudshare environments are not accessible externally (Which prevents users from using CloudShare Pro for setting up websites or mail servers etc)
But for the users who need a lightweight cloud solution, CloudShare Pro very nicely fills a void that has developed in the Cloud Industry. Most Cloud vendors to date have marketed their offerings towards IT departments for medium to heavy use applications and as a result their solutions have a learning curve that has limited adoption to the more tech savvy user. With CloudShare Pro, almost anyone who can utilize a web browser should be able to quickly setup Cloud based environments
The rollout and fast adoption of CloudShare Pro is being watched closely in the industry and it would be safe to assume that the incumbents (Amazon, Rackspace, GoGrid etc) will offer similar services in this space soon.