Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quick tool: Dev / Demo / Test environment in the cloud

When I got the question to create a proof-of-concept for exporting the number of emails in custom Microsoft-Outlook (exchange) folders, my thoughts went straight back to the period where I used a cloud solution for my team of developers because IT couldn't provide us with a Team Foundation Server.

On http://www.cloudshare.com you can create an environment with one or more VM's which you then can access via Remote Desktop (or your browser). The nice thing of this cloud solution is that they have several prepared VM's which you can "spin up" in a couple of minutes !
One of these VM's is a Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP3 environment (Exchange installed AND CONFIGURED, AD installed & configured etc.) but they have more ! :
(As per 22 January 2014)

CentOS 5 W/ MySQL
CentOS 5.4 Server
CentOS 5.8 Server
CentOS 6 Server
CentOS 6.3 Server
Dynamics CRM Server 2011
Exchange Server 2010 SP1
Exchange Server 2010 SP3
Exchange Server 2013 RTM
Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010
PostgreSQL 9.1
Ruby On Rails
SharePoint 2007
SharePoint 2007 Additional Server Bits Only
SharePoint 2010 Additional Server Bits Only
SharePoint 2010 Enterprise - No Configuration
SharePoint 2010 Enterprise SP1
SharePoint 2010 Enterprise SP1 W/ Duet
SharePoint 2010 Enterprise SP1 W/ SQL 2012 and BI Stack
SharePoint 2010 SP1 (Information Worker)
SharePoint 2010 SP1 Enterprise W/ FAST Search and SQL Server 2012
SharePoint 2010 SP1 Enterprise W/ SQL Server 2012
SharePoint 2010 SP1 Standard W/ SQL 2012
SharePoint 2010 SP1 W/ FAST Search Server
SharePoint 2010 SP1 W/ PowerPivot
SharePoint 2010 SP1 W/ Project Server
SharePoint 2010 Standard - No Configuration
SharePoint 2010 Standard SP1
SharePoint 2010 W/ Fast for SharePoint Additional Server Bits Only
SharePoint 2013 Additional Server Bits Only
SharePoint 2013 with October 2013 Update
SharePoint Foundation 2010 SP1
SharePoint Foundation 2010 SP1 W/ Dev Tools
SharePoint Server 2013
SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 Standard
SQL Server 2012 Standard
SQL Server 2014 CTP2
Team Foundation Server 2010
Team Foundation Server 2012
Team Foundation Server 2013
Ubuntu 10.04 Desktop
Ubuntu 10.04 Server
Ubuntu 12.04.3 Desktop
Ubuntu 12.04.3 Server LTS 64 bit
Ubuntu 12.04.3 Server LTS 64 bit /W Docker 0.7
Ubuntu 13.10 Server 64 bit
Windows 2003 R2 W/ Oracle 11g
Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise
Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Enterprise SP1
Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Enterprise SP1 W/ Active Directory
Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Enterprise SP1 W/ IIS Server
Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Standard
Windows Server 2008 SP2 x86 Standard
Windows Server 2008 x64 W/ SQL Server 2012 SP1 BI Edition
Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard W/ Visual Studio 2013
Windows Server 2012 x64 Standard
Windows Server 2012 x64 W/ Active Directory
Windows Server 2012 x64 W/ SQL Server 2012 SP1
Windows Server 2012 x64 W/ SQL Server 2012 SP1 BI Edition
Xubuntu 8

Each of these VM's ready to spin in a couple of minutes.
The nice thing of this solution is that you can actually invite people (developers or customers) to join-in on the environment and start testing or watching what you build.
You get a free and full-functional trial period which makes things even faster. Imagine you suddenly got that invite at the biggest customer ever, you need that PowerPivot demo area for yourself and ready NOW!!
You can do it, with cloudshare.com !!

Other than RDP'ing to this environment (You'll get a local-admin account & password), you can also use "Cloud Folders' to FTP from and to the VM. This way you can actually export your code / results from the cloud to your own machine.
SnapShot's are also available, so no more re-doing all that hard work :)

Some caveats:
- In the trial period, your environment will shut-down automatically when you don't use it. When you are using it, you can "extend" the period before it goes down. This makes sure that cloudshare is not using valuable resources for nothing :P When cloudshare terminates your environment you can "spin it up" at any time again, it's right where you left it !
- You are depending on your connection to the cloud.. no internet = no environment
- Make sure you look at all pricing options, depending what you are going to do with the tool