Written by Chris Nicolopoulos, VP Cloud Infrastructure & Operations at interworks.cloud
Imagine you want to buy a new car. First, you see an ad on TV or online, then you visit the car manufacturer’s site, check out some reviews online, ask your friends about their opinion on the brand/model, visit the local dealership’s site for some sales and good deals, check your finances whether you got enough money to proceed with the purchase. But, are you really going to buy a car without test driving it? Probably not! That’s what the concept and the coining of the phrase “Test Driving” is all about.
The funny thing is that, although Merriam-Webster dictionary, defines the phrase “Test Drive” as such, meaning “to drive (a motor vehicle) in order to evaluate performance”, it actually continues to provide a second meaning “to use or examine (something, such as a computer program) in order to evaluate performance”.
Software Test Drive Models
For many years, sales & marketing tactics embraced the idea of providing something for free, for a pre-set amount of time, in order to prove the “greatness” of the product or service and to “lure” the customer into actual buy the product or service. For the tech industry, specifically, the concept of test-driving software is not new. Even when we talk about a desktop app (as opposed to a Cloud or SaaS application), the idea of a “trial key” or a “trial version” has been around for years. But with the new ways, apps and services are being catered to the public, the way companies offer the ability to “evaluate” their service or app before you purchase or subscribe have multiplied.
The most common way you’ll find, is “Trial” software or subscription. With the advent of cloud applications, it is relatively easy and safe to control who uses the application or service by enabling or disabling a user account and controlling their access. From Microsoft’s 365 one-month-free trial to Dropbox’s Business 30-day free trial, it seems that one cannot find a cloud company without a free-trial option. Every one of these companies is betting on the fact that the user will try the service, start using it “productively” for their daily use and then will be reluctant to cancel the trial and lose all the work that has been done, saved or “enjoyed”.
Bottom line: “Trial” software exists to let you experience the features and performance of a software product or cloud service, with no commitment or upfront costs, and should you decide to keep it, all the work you have done while using it continues to function when converted to a “paid” software or subscription.
But no “free trial” software or service could possibly include professional services for installation and configuration of more complicated products or more specialized solutions. The term “Proof of Concept”, or “PoC”, generally refers to large projects, involving engineering effort in setting up a “complicated” or a “non-standard” system.
PoCs are not automatic, cannot be instantiated by the customer themselves, as is the case with the Trial cases mentioned above. As a rule-of-thumb, PοCs should not exceed 3 months, including the time needed for the design and implementation as well as the time the customer needs to experiment with the solution.
PoCs can be either “paid” or “non-paid”. Depending on the agreement and technical requirements, before a PoC implementation starts, the customer must accept a relevant financial quote based on preparation and implementation costs calculated by the engineering team. The end result may be kept as the basis for continued development after the end of the PoC period and the commencement of the actual project start, or it can be completely rejected and the work for the actual project will start from scratch again.
Bottom Line: PoCs are complete project technical implementations, requiring engineering time and effort which, depending on the agreement, may be offered for a price. At the end, the work done may be kept, or used only as an evaluation and deleted.
Sometimes, a regular “trial” model may not always have the intended result but the “PoC” may be too costly for the vendor to provide to every intended customer, especially if the vendors intend on doing this for free. In this case is, a middle-of-the-road solution is used: The “Demo”.
The “Demo” is a pre-configured, demonstration installation of a product or service. A set of initial test data is uploaded so that the customer to have the complete experience. In a SaaS environment, a demo account is issued for the customer to be able to experience the solution. The advantage of the Demo is that a customer may experience all the functions of a fully working solution without the hassle of installing it, configuring it, and loading it up with necessary test data. Additionally, it is usually provided free of charge, with no commitments, and requires minimal time from the vendor to setup up access. The disadvantage, of course, is that, after the demo period experimenting with the software, all work cannot be kept or migrated to the actual production solution.
Bottom Line: A “Demo” is usually a public installation of a software application which is configured as a full-blown solution using test data that enables the full experience of an advanced product. A Demo does not require extensive effort from the vendor to be enabled, however, all work and data inserted by the customer will be lost at the end of the demo period.
Here at interworks.cloud, we recognize that our customers may need to experience our products and services. For this reason, we provide all of the above ways to experiment with our product and service offerings. Our Sales account managers, as well as our Customer and Partner Success departments, can guide you on the best way to experience (and experiment with) our products and services.
Examples of “Trial” subscriptions at interworks.cloud, may include, but are not limited to:
- interworks.cloud IaaS resources
- Acronis backup on interworks.cloud IaaS
- Microsoft Business Standard
Examples of “Proof-of-Concept” at interworks.cloud, may include, but are not limited to:
- Remote Desktop Services deployment
- Disaster Recovery as Service environment for an on-premise or cloud infrastructure
- Hybrid cloud deployment with interconnection to one or more on-premise locations
Examples of available “Demo” at interworks.cloud, may include, but are not limited to:
- interworks.cloud platform full demo
- interworks.cloud Marketplace experience demo
- IaaS VM experience demo