CloudShare for Demo Environments
I’d like to tell you a story. One of the software development companies that I’m working with, Ooyala, is building an integration with SharePoint. In April (2011), we were planning to have the public unveiling of the product at the NABSHOW in Las Vegas. It is a huge convention, and we had secured a demo kiosk and were planning to get enough of the product developed so that we could illustrate how the final product would work.
One of our development teams was in Argentina, another development team was in Redmond, WA, and Ooyala has headquarters in Mountain View, CA. We needed a development and testing environment that would enable all three groups to work together and to share an environment in preparation for the show.
For a couple of months, we had been using a development environment that was provided by CloudShare.com. And everything had been working well. We would bring up the CloudShare environment when we needed to, and share access to it from city to city.
One of the useful features that CloudShare provides is the ability to recreate a SharePoint environment from one a list of starting environments that they provide. When one of our development teams release a new build, we can recreate a new environment on CloudShare and test the installation and configuration, etc. It was working very well.
If you haven’t tried out CloudShare yet, you can find them at www.cloudshare.com. Look for the “SharePoint in the Cloud” selection right on the front page. That page will describe the SharePoint environments that they offer and how you can utilize them.
As we got closer to the NABSHOW, however, something wasn’t quite right. I was worried about little things, like the URL used for the demo. We also wanted to share the demonstration version with other potential partners and customers, so we wanted to create a demo URL (i.e. NABDEMO.OOYALA.COM) and have the dev/test environment support that. I couldn’t find the right way to make that happen for the CloudShare environment that wasn’t located within our data center, but a quick call to CloudShare answered the question. (They have since cleaned up how the features are displayed so that this particular feature is easier to find.)
The problem that I was running into is one of the features of CloudShare that allows their service to be affordable. When a CloudShare environment times out due to a period of inactivity, the environment is automatically suspended, and the assigned IP addresses and physical hardware can be re-utilized for other users and to meet additional demand. Sound very cloud-centric, right? Well, yes, actually. However, when the environment would be re-activated the next time someone needed it, the server machines in the environment might be assigned a different collection of IP addresses. This meant that I might have to keep updating the DNS entries for the URL that I wanted to use for the demo. Difficult and inconvenient.
But then I learned about a great little feature called “Always-On”. This costs more per month, but enables your environment to stay up all the time, maintaining the same assigned IP addresses. A quick call to CloudShare operations, and we had the solution, we had a constant IP
address for the DNS settings, and we were starting to demo using an easy to communicate and an easy to use URL. I’ve learned, over the years, to never underestimate the importance of having an easy to communicate URL when working with salespeople…
So, long story short, we unveiled the product at the NABSHOW in April – the demo environment was flawless, and we are still using CloudShare as our development environment as we enter into a full Beta stage with the product here in June.
If you’d like to learn more about CloudShare, please learn more at http://www.cloudshare.com.
If you’d like to learn how to bring the video capabilities of Ooyala into your SharePoint environment, please send email to Andrea@ooyala.com.
If you’d like to take me to a Seattle Mariners game this summer (Yes, I’m back on the bandwagon!), please send me email – firstname.lastname@example.org.