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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Using amazon instances for my "Try it now"

It seems like everybody wants to be able to try a product and because my tool is all of the following:

a) Will be delivered as a virtual appliance for the most part since there are a lot of moving parts.
b) Is still in beta so I haven't been fully able to ensure all my intellectual property is secure.

What I'm thinking about doing is creating about 50 micro or small amazon instances with my software configured.  And when somebody wants to test things, I'll see if there is an available instance and if there is, I'll start it and give the user access to that machine.  And after about an hour or two, I'll reset things and have it shutdown automatically.  And yes the user will be told they will only have an hour or two.
The micro is 2 cents an hour and the small is 6.5 cents an hour.  I'm hoping the micro will do but I'll need to do some testing, but in the worst case, I'm looking at about 13 cents for every person that wants to try it for two hours. 

Have any of you done anything like this before?  I got the idea from Ubuntu which did a promotion like this.  It was basically try ubuntu for an hour. 

This seems like a cost effective way to let people try things and it will allow me to protect my intellectual property in the mean time.  There are certainly some logistics that I'll need to implement, but the idea seems doable.
Terrence Send private email
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
It's worth trying. Sounds like there's no obvious downside.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
And if there is a downside you've learned a valuable lesson! :-)
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Time and context switching is my only concern now a days.  It really is exhausting have to go from business thinking to technical thinking to design thinking.  Switching gears really takes a lot out of you. 

I know if I go full steam with this, it'll chew up at least a weeks worth of work.  But it's probably worth it as people really do want to try things before they are willing to commit.
Terrence Send private email
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
If it's successful (*IF*) then you could also automate the process using the EC2 APIs making it completely self service and thus reducing your context switching. Or you could employ a VA to do it for you.
elstensoftware Send private email
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Providing a free trial is usually a good idea, whether that should be time or feature limited or something else is different for each product. See Andy's article for a breakdown of options:


I would question your hosting strategy though. Why would you run one ec2 instance per trial when you could have multiple people trailing on one (possibly larger) ec2 instance.

It seems like you'll have to do some engineering either way & unless the coding / db schema etc. issues with having multiple people on one instance is very hard I'd go with that; I suspect it'll be a lot cheaper & easier to manage.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Yeah I would like to run more than one version of my tool per instance but due to how it was architectured, it won't be that easy.  There are a lot of moving parts such as the indexers and I create a lot of tables in the database.  These tables will usually only linger for a couple of days or weeks.  I'm pretty sure I could get multiple copies per instance but I really don't have the time to test things.

Having done some research, it doesn't look like what I'll need to do will be that much work.  And it'll give me some insight into whether I should also provide a hosted solution as well.

Based on my current understanding of how Amazon's system works.  As long as I create the image correctly, I should be able to just clone them.  So once I configure one that can properly update it self and report back to the mother station with regular heartbeats, creating additional ones should take less than two minutes to do manually.  To start and stop an amazon instance seems easy enough as there are API calls that I can make.  And if creating instances is easy on the command line, I'll probably automate the creation as well.
Terrence Send private email
Thursday, January 24, 2013
For the record, one of our clients is doing it the other way round: they've created a public AMI with their product already set up for evaluation and issue temporary licenses:

Dmitry Leskov @Home Send private email
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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