Hands-on: CloudShare ProPlus makes app testing a snap

A simple way to safely try out applications using your own private cloud.

If you want to test a new piece of software, most of the time you reimage your PC or install a new OS from scratch to make sure you start with a clean copy. But now CloudShare ProPlus makes testing easier and cheaper.

CloudShare essentially offers a simple and low-cost way to set up your own small private cloud. For less than $50 a month, IT departments can create up to six individual virtual machines.

CloudShare actually has two different pricing tiers. The ProPlus package includes up to six VMs for $49 a month. After that, the Enterprise plan can provide secure access to larger VM collections, via VPN, and allow access to hybrid public/private clouds. The price depends on the number of virtual servers you intend to run in the cloud. (Until recently, there was a third tier that offered up to three VMs free of charge, but the company is in the process of eliminating that deal, which is too bad.)

On the Pro Plus plan, all of your VMs are on a flat network with a single subnet to connect them; each machine has both a public and private IP address. The only catch is that any VM you create can occupy only up to 30GB of storage and 10GB RAM. If you need more, you will have to bump up to the Enterprise service tier.

CloudShare.net will help IT departments test software; you can quickly set up your VM using a series of existing templates.

CloudShare provides a few different basic templates to help expedite the app-testing process, including Linux (CentOS, Ubuntu) and Windows (Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows XP), so you don't have to build out the OS piece yourself. Other premade templates add applications such as SQL Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint, Active Directory and Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 versions, as well as 64-bit and Server 2008 R2 editions.

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