“Wow! That’s Cool!” was my first reaction.
“I wish I knew about this sooner.” was my second.
That’s a really auspicious start to my joining CloudShare.
When I was exploring the opportunity to join CloudShare as a Solutions Architect, I immediately saw the powerful value of the scalability of a cloud service combined with a simple interface with workflows optimized for dev/test scenarios.
If only I had known about it sooner…
I previously worked with a company that delivered both commercial off-the-shelf products as well as a number of customized solutions built with a lot of professional services. One of those solutions that I was leading was a three-tier client-server enterprise applications with a web server, app server and database server. As many other similar companies do, we utilized an in-house VMware ESX cluster to spin up test environments. This worked reasonable well, except when schedules clashed and we had to wait for another team to finish their test cycle before we could begin ours.
We had a solid setup, smooth processes and a great team, but we faced challenges by these highly utilized virtual lab resources, combined with business pressure to be more agile and deliver more and faster. Our IT, Dev and QA teams were constantly juggling test resources making tradeoffs and doing their best to manage risks, an especially difficult responsibility when product and customer schedules changed mid-cycle. Even if we had invested in DevOps automation tools, physical resources often would have been oversubscribed, thereby impacting schedules or quality risk.
We had to make hard choices between OS versions and MS-Office versions for the environments to simulate and include in our white box, regression and end-to-end testing. While we had mined the usage data to know what combinations were most common for each solution, we rarely had all of the VM resources we needed to run these tests in parallel. We were often forced into making unneccessary tradeoffs to cover only some of the scenarios in a first pass test iteration, then reprovision the free VM resources to cover the remaining test. Obviously, this lengthened our test cycles more than we wanted, and made us less agile.
Our customers faced the same issue. The acceptance testers were drafted into acceptance testing and also had their normal day jobs, so they needed lots of planning and scheduling support to efficiently carry out their test and reporting duties. The project teams (even the “agile” ones) often struggled with quickly deploying code on 10-20 systems. Project plans often gave them only one or two weeks to test a pretty sophisticated system, and it was very painful when anyone in the delivery pipeline missed a schedule by even a few hours.
I am sure we were not alone with that challenge, and the interest we’re seeing with CloudShare TeamLabs proves that to me. It is quite rewarding to see teams have the same “wow” moment, and then go on to benefit from a solution that I myself wish I had known about sooner.
The ability to quickly provision a complex baseline enterprise application environment, deploy code to it, then snapshot and instantly provide exact copies of the environment to each of the testers around the world without any of the hassles of such repetitive tasks, huge file transfers over slow links, and resource scheduling difficulties, would have eliminated many of the biggest challenges we were facing.
Wow…If only I had known sooner…