SharePoint Development with Cloudshare Part 1

I recently signed up with Cloudshare on their ProPlus subscription service, Cloudshare allows you to build single or multi machine virtual environments in the cloud and connect to them using the browser or an RDP client.

I won’t regurgitate their marketing bumf, but ProPlus gives you OOTB the ability to create up to 6 virtual machines spread across 300GB of storage and up to 10GB of RAM (with more RAM available on request), these virtual machines can of course be networked together and you also have the ability to create your own virtual domain.

The idea is you set up your environment and then create and add virtual machines to it. When you create a virtual machine you can choose from a variety of machine templates, the one which interested me however was the SharePoint 2010 Clean Install.

This template builds you a single server standalone SharePoint 2010 Enterprise setup including a local domain, not only that it also includes Office 2010 Professional, Visual Studio 2010 Professional and SharePoint Designer 2010.

After creating a machine from this template, as a SharePoint developer you’re ready to go. All you need to do after this is to tailor the machine to your preferences and install additional client software. Copying software, data and other files over to your new virtual machine is pretty simple, you can download your materials across the internet or you can copy them from your local hard drives.

Connection Options

After you startup your new environment,  clicking on the View Machine option loads a VM console session in a new browser window and this is one way you can use your virtual machine, though as a developer it’s not the best experience.

Another option is, from the VM console, clicking on the RDP Full Screen, which launches a full screen RDP console (very much like the native Microsoft RDC client). Note that this option requires you to install a plugin from Cloudshare.

The final option is to use a external RDP client to connect to the virtual machine

Copying Files to your Virtual Machine

When you launch the VM Console session (View Machine from the Environment summary page), you will see an option at the top of the browser window which allows you to Enable or Disable File Sharing.

When enabled, the VM console session is relaunched and your local hard droves are made available in the VM as local drives, so you can just drag stuff off them to your virtual machine storage.

Be aware however that this method isn’t the fastest, it may be faster to copy files up to say a SkyDrive/DropBox account and download them into your VM.

My Development Environment

Using the SharePoint 2010 Clean Install template I built a virtual machine with 80GB of storage and 8GB RAM – this is the default configuration. After click all the right buttons the virtual machine starts building and 5 minute later it’s ready.

This is something of a revolution, anyone whose built a SharePoint 2007 or 2010 development environment will know what I mean, 5 minutes and your SharePoint dev env is ready to go, you don’t even have to run the configuration wizard or create any web applications, it’s part of the the stock virtual machine template.

OOTB you get;

  • An SPDOM.Loc domain and Administrator account
  • DNS
  • Central Administration configured
  • A MySites web application
  • A port 80 web application with pre created site collection

Ok so not everything’s done for you, after starting up my new VM I installed;

  • The Windows Server 2008 Desktop Experience feature
  • SMTP Service
  • Configured SharePoint outbound email

Note to Cloudshare:
The version of SharePoint which is part of this virtual machine template is SharePoint 2010 Enterprise for Partners which includes Service Pack 1, personally I’d prefer the option of installing SP1 myself, rather than having no choice about it.

After this it’s a case of installing the bits of your own development stack and away you go. For me this included SVN clients, Office Live Meeting, Resharper, CKSDEV and CAML.Net for Visual Studio, Visio, TextPad, CodeSmith and Reflector. I then created the SVN repositories I needed, did an Update and I could get on with some work.

The thing to note about Cloudshare is that you can sign up for a 14 day trial, however I found this of limited value since for trial users, you don’t have outbound internet connectivity, meaning you can’t connect to the outside world. So I guess I took a punt on taking out a subscription before I had conducted a more thorough trail. But, so far at least, I’m pretty happy.

In the next post I’ll talk more about each of the connection options, sharing your environment with the outside world and describe my experience of using Cloudshare as a development platform.

Published by

Phil Harding

SharePoint Consultant, Developer, Father, Husband and Climber.

2 thoughts on “SharePoint Development with Cloudshare Part 1

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