I promised Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) that I would write a blog post about how and why I use CloudShare. As a part of one of their community programs, I get a complimentary license for their ProPlus plan, which I find very handy. That’s the disclaimer – I have a financial incentive to write this post – that free CloudShare license.
I’ve used CloudShare in two scenarios. One was for a project for a customer. We were building a SharePoint intranet. We needed to quickly spin up SharePoint development environments so the developers on the project team could have independent SharePoint environments in which to write and unit test code. By using a CloudShare template for a single server SharePoint farm, and then connecting the VM to the Team Foundation Server (TFS) instance we were using, we were able to get from “never used CloudShare before” to “I have a development farm and the latest source code, and the project successfully builds in Visual Studio” in under an hour. This way, the client didn’t have to invest in additional on premise physical or virtual machines when new staff joined the dev team. They did choose to have an on premise staging farm, and an on premise production farm.
If we would have had to build our own development farms, it would have taken hours to set up each farm, not including time to install Visual Studio.
The other scenario I use my CloudShare VM for is for when I give my introductory talk on PowerShell for SharePoint. I’ve given this talk 3 or 4 times in the last year. I don’t want to spend a lot of time setting up my farm. I need a SharePoint 2013 VM that I can access quickly. I found running HyperV on my laptop was just not fun – I can’t justify the cost of adding a lot of ram, I have to swap out the CD player for the SSD drive, and if I really want optimal performance, I need to reboot into the VM rather than run it as a guest OS. With CloudShare, I can stay in my Windows desktop where I have all my daily productivity tools, and just access my CloudShare VM via browser or Remote Desktop session. I can focus on setting up my demos, not setting up the farm underneath them. Of course, I do require internet access, but that’s pretty ubiquitous. As a presenter, I usually find that the presentation podium has a wired internet connection, so I don’t have to worry about the vagaries of wifi at conferences.
Another nice thing about the CloudShare Vm I use for my PowerShell+SharePoint lectures is that I can share it. I can provide a link and people can explore a copy of the VM for a limited time.
So there you go. CloudShare is great in those scenarios. If you are doing team server-side development with SharePoint, and you don’t want to deal with the infrastructure of each developer having their own farm, CloudShare is a great way to go.