As witnessed by mainstream news publications like BusinessWeek, cloud computing is all the rage as of late. I was first introduced to it in the summer of 2006 when I met the Amazon Web Services team at a trade conference. At the time we had recently launched our Software-as-a-Service offering crystalreports.com. I found it very interesting that at the same time we were offering reporting in the cloud they had begun to offer data storage in the cloud. Whether you call it Cloud Computing or Software-as-Service, this new change in the industry is gaining momentum.
Business Objects has made a number of press releases recently announcing it Open Appliance Initiative (OAI) allowing customers more flexibility in their deployment options. Building on the momentum created by its OAI, Business Objects has released its first online test drive virtual appliance. Virtual Appliances are allowing companies to change the way they evaluate and deploy applications by removing barriers like machine maintenance and administration.
The first publicly available appliance is a trial build of Crystal Reports Server XI. Anyone wanting to see the power and speed of a virtual machine running in the Amazon EC2 cloud should definitely check this out. Or maybe you just want to play with a demo of Crystal Reports Server without the need of downloading and installing any software. In the future you will see more and more virtual server demos highlighted on the Diamond community.