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CloudShare Adds Services For SMBs

ProPlus offers small and midsized businesses a quickly provisioned, virtual machine environment for duplicating complex IT settings and projects.

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CloudShare is a young service that has been primarily a staging environment where technical companies, such as SAP or Cisco Systems, can conduct proof of concept demonstrations or help train new users. It evolved Wednesday into a cloud service for small and midsized business as well.

CloudShare launched CloudShare ProPlus, its online virtual machine environment for small IT staffs, consultants, teams of software developers and other collaborative efforts that require a complex, shared IT environment. Users commission pre-installed Linux and Windows virtual machines, employing editing via a user interface to determine the amount of RAM (up to 10 GB), a hard drive (up to 300 GB) and a number of CPUs.

For $49 a month, any user can provision and run up to six virtual machines, including one or more SharePoint 2010 VMs, in the CloudShare data center. A customer "can get up and running in five minutes," claimed Ophir Kra-Oz, CloudShare VP of products, using the already licensed software on a self-service basis.

Operating systems available to include in the virtual IT environment include Windows Server 2003-2008, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Linux. SharePoint Server 2010 and Oracle 11g are also available along with other applications, Kra-Oz said in an interview. The systems can be run continuously for the month's subscription.

A combination of servers can be used to duplicate an enterprise environment with many interconnected parts. The environment may be used by a software development team, IT professionals testing a new application before launching it in production, an instructor conducting multi-system training or a product team demonstrating a new product to potential customers, Kra-Oz said.

CloudShare ProPlus is designed to run VMware ESX Server virtual machines commissioned in its cloud data center. But it can also accept ESX VMs imported from the outside. The upload process "is easy to understand" and CloudShare is seeking a patent on its FastUpload process of moving a virtual machine from a customer's environment into CloudShare.

A slimmed down version of CloudShare ProPlus, called CloudShare Pro, is available for free use and will serve as a seeding mechanism for creating more ProPlus users. The Pro service just emerged from its beta trial, launched in March. Individual registered users may commission up to three virtual machines.

CloudShare was founded in 2007 with offices in San Mateo, Calif., and Tel Aviv, Israel. The launch of ProPlus marks a shift from focusing on large technology companies to "individuals inside the smaller enterprise," Kra-Oz said.

The firm is backed by $16 million in venture capital from Sequoia Capital, Charles River Ventures and Gemini Israel Funds.

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