Best solution for running Windows in the cloud?
July 21, 2016 5:14 AM   Subscribe

From any machine, I would like to be able to fire up an on-demand instance of Windows in a remote virtual machine with a pre-configured image (I have some specific requirements for the software I would require). From this image I want to be able to access some persisted data. What is currently the best solution for doing this?

I am a software developer and I would like to have a good at setting up a development environment in the cloud and seeing how practical a solution this is. This would likely be based around Visual Studio 2015, so Windows is a requirement. I would like to be able to access the VM from both a PC and a Mac. Ideally I would like the data accessed within the VM to be accessible outside of the VM (maybe via something like Dropbox?). I recognize that I will need to pay for this.

I am assuming one of Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services or Azure is solution, but which suits my scenario the best?

Has anyone tried this and found it to be practical? What sort of bandwidth do I need to make this practical?

Assuming this is possible, is there anything I am overlooking that makes this a stupid idea?
posted by oclipa to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's a service called Paperspace that might do what you want.
posted by BinaryApe at 5:41 AM on July 21, 2016


It may not scratch your itch to learn more about cloud services, but Amazon offers workspaces as a service.
posted by phil at 5:53 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


AWS has this and you get the first year free.
posted by sammyo at 5:54 AM on July 21, 2016


For the past year or so, I've worked using C# on actual PC at a remote location using a VPN and Remote Desktop.

The VPN causes annoying pauses, and the Remote Desktop screen is finicky with exact click locations, especially for such things as dragging windows to move or resize them. It works, but I think it illustrates that having a long telecommunications path between the keyboard/monitor and the computer degrades the experience.

In my case, the remote computer is old and slow. I'd check to see what performance claims/guarantees you get from the cloud provider.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:45 AM on July 21, 2016


"The VPN causes annoying pauses, and the Remote Desktop screen is finicky with exact click locations, especially for such things as dragging windows to move or resize them. "

What OS are you on? The RDP client for OSX and Windows doesn't seem to have this problem for me while some Linux clients may have this problem.
posted by I-baLL at 8:47 AM on July 21, 2016


I-ball: Everything is Windows. The VPN is SonicWall Global. Sometimes the VPN will need to reconnect a couple times in a morning, sometimes it just pauses for second or two. Annoying for sure, but not fatal.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:04 AM on July 21, 2016


For a while I worked on a VM hosted on Amazon. It was mostly awesome.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:50 AM on July 21, 2016


Ideally I would like the data accessed within the VM to be accessible outside of the VM (maybe via something like Dropbox?)

I can think of no reason at all why including a Dropbox client in your VM image wouldn't work well for this.
posted by flabdablet at 11:50 AM on July 21, 2016


Can you clarify *why* you want to do this? I ask because it kind of sounds like you are engineering a very clever and high tech multi-user database system, but without using an actual multi-user database system - in my experience those usually go poorly.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 5:07 PM on July 22, 2016


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