Not too long ago a company called CloudShare came to market with a cloud computing platform that was designed to help software vendors sell their wares. The basic idea behind the service was to give vendors a way to set up a working proof-of-concept implementation of their software that customers could test and evaluate over an extended period of time.
Like most good ideas, this service has some interesting downstream implications. It turns out that after the evaluation period, customers that wanted to deploy an application did not want to turn off the application running on the CloudShare platform.
Instead, they began asking software vendors to let them use the implementation of the software they were about to deploy to train end users on how to use the software. Most likely, the customers plan to deploy the software in question on their premise. But in the meantime, they could use the version of the software running on the CloudShare platform to get a jump on end-user training even before the first application was ever installed.
According to Ophir Kra Oz, vice president of products for CloudShare, the cloud service provider began seeing so much of the behavior that it decided to add a self-service portal to the enterprise-class version of its offering, which now allows application vendors or internal application development teams-and by extension their end-user customers-to set up their own virtual application environments on the CloudShare platform. And the best part about that is because the applications are sitting up in a cloud, it doesn't matter what geography the end users are located in when it comes to training them on how to use the application because they can access it from anywhere.
Given the amount of time and effort that goes into end-user training, anything that speeds that process up is a good thing. More application projects wind up getting torpedoed by end-user resistance than anybody really wants to admit. But as a rule of thumb, the more exposure you give end users to an application before actually deploying it, the less resistance there will ultimately be.