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We've built a SharePoint 2010 auditing solution and while it works correctly here and at our SINGLE (albeit complex) beta site; I would like to test the solution install on more systems.

I could buy another computer to test on, but it would be mostly a waste of money as we already have all the servers we need. I don't want to install SharePoint 2010 on an x64 workstation, since I don't think that would reflect the 'real world'.

While we're experienced at building and testing Windows software, but this is our first SharePoint application. We've minimized our risk by doing all the heavy lifting outside of SharePoint, but we do still have some SharePoint code (farm wide timer, admin page and a web-part)

So my question is....has anyone used a hosted SharePoint service? I'm not sure that it will work me since we have both SharePoint code and a Windows service.

Or...maybe a better approach would be for me to sign up for a Windows based Virtual Private Service (VPS). But, goodness, just uploading the SharePoint install would take forever.

Or...bite the bullet and get a massive machine that can host of VMs and go crazy.

Option 1 seems to be the cheapest but most limited. Option 2 is more expensive, more flexible but looks like it will be 'cumbersome' Option 3 is the most expensive (by far) but is the most flexible and powerful.

Alternatively,...Option 4. Punt on all of it and try to find additional beta sites; while it would be the most useful; it would require more of 'management'

What do you guys think?

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2 Answers

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Since you need to install Farm-Trust solutions (like Timer Jobs), shared hosting solutions are not gong to work. Dedicated hosting solutions are more aligned with running a production SharePoint environment and are going to be very expensive (since they often include production licensing costs).

For temporary testing environments I would suggest either pay-per-use virtual servers from Rackspace or Amazon. You might want to look at CloudShare as well. They have pre-configured SharePoint virtual servers you can provision with a single click, supports snapshots, and has a very good price point (check out the ProPlus service - www.cloudshare.com).

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Thank you. CloudShare seems like a pretty good fit. I'll give them a call. –  Iunknown Jun 27 '11 at 14:39
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I think the real issue is not where to test but what to test.

For our internal testing of solution deployment we provision virtual machines on internally hosted servers in several different farm configurations.

We found installation issues in our products when faced with the following configurations.

  • No Site Collection at the root of the web application.
  • Central Admin running on a Server without the SharePoint Foundation Web Application Service.
  • Site Collection where the user performing the installation is not a Site Collection Admin.
  • Farms where the SPAdminV4 service has been disabled.
  • Farms with minimum privilege accounts for its services

These configurations are as far as we can tell legitimate but developers tend to test on standalone or single server farm systems so these issues go undetected until QA test a wider variety of configurations.

We focus our testing on farm topology and security configurations as these are the issues we can predict,test and repair.

We have also encountered interactions with other SharePoint 3rd party products.

  • Cancelling HTTP requests in buggy HTTPModules
  • Corrupting web.config files.
  • Replacing SharePoints ServicePointManager.ServerCertificateValidationCallback causinf farm trust settings to be lost.

These kinds of issues are impossible predict and difficult to diagnose when they occur at a customers site. For these situations all I can advise is to make excessive use of ULS logging so that you can determine exactly where your code is failing at a customer site and be prepared to make hot fixes to fix these issues.

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Thank you Steve, these look like a very good set of test cases. –  Iunknown Jun 27 '11 at 14:41
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