Skytap vs. CloudShare

Since I got to Trek a year ago, we’ve been using cloud providers for our dev and test stuff. It’s very slick stuff and I don’t have to sit around and wait for a new box. I just log in, spin up my VMs, and off I go. Consider these providers your own personal Easy button when it comes to dev/test infrastructure.

Based on my experiences, I felt compelled to provide a comparison of the two. Please bear in mind that this is my opinion and your experiences may differ from mine. Let the cage match begin!

 

Their bread and butter is SharePoint offering pre-configured, fully licensed VM’s complete with all necessary service apps , accounts, and site collections. However, CloudShare also offers many other VM’s to choose from including: Windows Server, Exchange, Oracle, CentOS, Ubuntu and Windows 7. CloudShare deploys 2 account types: CloudShare Pro ($49/month) and CloudShare Enterprise (negotiable based on number of users). Each image is fully built and ready to use.

Pros

  • Pre-configured VM’s with absolutely no administration needed to get started. Doing so gives it much more of a PaaS feel; however, you are free to manipulate the servers in any way you like making it a full IaaS option
  • Fully licensed. No need to have an MSDN or TechNet subscription as the licensing price is already factored in to the monthly fee
  • Easy to add VMs to the localized domain, but not much control beyond that
  • Friendliest UI available
  • Flat cost for Pro plan at $49 per month / $490 per year

Cons

  • Little freedom to manipulate the network/domain. Cannot setup multiple subnets or add a firewall. Because of this CloudShare is much more geared towards application development rather than architecture testing
  • Zero support (yet) for Red Hat or Suse, which makes Hadoop deployment more difficult to accomplish
  • Limited run time. For Pro plan, images can only be on for 180 minutes at a time. There is an option to upgrade to "Always on" but the pricing appears to be exponentially more per month.
  • Easily snapshot environment
  • Difficult to import your own images. Must contact sales to do so and it is more trouble than it’s worth

 

Skytap offers complete flexibility in their offering by giving you everything from raw images to pre-built, multi-VM configurations. Monthly pricing varies based on the base package of resources as well as utilization rate. Your own OS and app licenses are required

Pros

  • Full, granular control of the environment including (but not limited to): networking, firewalls, group policy, domain administration, server administration, application administration, & user administration
  • Easy to import your own images, although can take considerable amount of time due to file sizes
  • Straightforward operation to snap a copy of all or part of a environment and rebuild within a matter of minutes
  • Big advantages in availability of build scripting and timing usage based on Google Calendar
  • Nice selection of public Skytap templates to choose from (examples include Red Hat, Suse, Windows 7, Windows Server, etc.)
  • Convenient point-to-point VPN connections are available as well Skytap offers users to federate VM’s to their own domain

Cons

  • Minor nuisance – must possess your own licenses
  • Limited shelf-life for images – environments are not meant to be permanent or "Always on"
  • Difficult to manage large environments due to the web-based management console
  • Zero system-level alerting available

Both providers work off a resource pool model, meaning you pay for a specific amount of RAM (20GB to start) which is shared amongst your VMs. CloudShare Pro offers 10 GB RAM, 300 GB disk, and 10 virtual CPUs to start. CloudShare Enterprise and Skytap are both negotiable.

 

Winner

Winner: Skytap. The flexibility offered makes this provider king. CloudShare is too one dimensional as it is 90% focused on SharePoint and SharePoint developers. While building Skytap images is far more time consuming than CloudShare, the ability to create templates means you only need to setup your environment once. Improvements for Skytap include offering fully licensed VM’s, more granular storage control, and more pre-built application and/or service configurations (Visual Studio, Exchange, Oracle, System Center, etc.).

Anyone using these services or others? Would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Skytap vs. CloudShare”

  1. Hi David,

    Thank you so much for sharing and providing this knowledge. Hey man ! This is my requirement for cloud computing…

    1 domain –

    I need Windows server 2012 R2 – 2 of them.
    Windows 8 and windows 7 each and windows server 2008 R2 – 1 of them.
    SQL server 2012 on any one of the server.

    2nd domain –

    I need this :
    Windows Server 2012
    SQL Server 2012
    SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise Edition
    Exchange Server 2013
    Office Professional Plus 2013
    Project Server 2013
    Office Web Apps 2013
    Windows 7 – one of them.

    Standalone –
    Windows 8

    3rd domain:
    Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
    SQL server 2012.
    All these three domain I am doing to prepare my certifications, which can be done one at a time.( It does not have to be all together and clumsy). I can do one domain at a time but what do you think is the best option for me cloudshare or skytap. Please advice. Any suggestions or comments would be much appreciated.

    Like

    1. I’d say your specs look good. However, 2 years ago Azure wasn’t even in the IaaS space. Now they dominate that category. Give Azure a look. In the meantime I need to write a followup!

      Like

  2. Hi David,

    Nice write up. Thanks for this.
    I have noticed that this is from 2012 and things would have changed drastically. Do you still see Skytap as the winner now in 2015!

    Thanks,

    Like

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