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CloudShare free for the masses, for the moment

In an effort to entice future customers, CloudShare will spend a few months giving away its cloud sales service tool.

Need a free IT lab? Call CloudShare
CloudShare has announced that, for now, it's going to give away CloudShare Pro, its cloud sales service tool.

The company, comfortably padded out with venture capital dollars and customers like Cisco and WebSense, bills its product as a demo-oriented sales tool that vendors can use to give potential customers a taste of software applications in a virtual network environment, sidestepping the traditional on-premise demo model.

It is actually more of a full featured virtual lab/virtual desktop environment with a heap of management and monitoring tools on top, far closer to Skytap than to Salesforce.com.

The company launched its enterprise version last fall, aimed at the big sale for the big team. Kevin Epstein, former director of marketing at VMware, said that version met with decent success and now they want to jump start 'mindshare' by letting anyone play for a limited time.

"It's not going to be free forever," he warned, saying the trial offer would only stay around for a few more months.

CloudShare will then begin charging, likely on a subscription basis and/or a per-seat basis, much like Salesforce.com or Citrix, whom Epstein called "our heroes." That's not super cloudy for the pure pay-as-you-go crowd, but Epstein said there's lots of room to experiment.

Still, letting sales use something like this to demo applications is kind of like using a tower crane to build snow forts. We'll see if it catches on; in the mean time, anyone in need of a free IT lab at Cloudshare's expense, stroll on over.

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