Software trials and evaluations – How can they be made more effective?

Software Trials and Evaluations are Generally a Laborious Effort for ISVs & their Prospects

If you are an ISV, there is generally a lot of friction in getting your prospects a copy of your software and letting them evaluate/use it. Most ISV product managers are confident that once they can get their software in the hands of users and they test drive it, end users will be able to see the value and benefits the software provides.

To achieve this, traditionally ISVs have offered a free download of their software with a specified license trial period. There are multiple barriers for end users with this approach:

  1. Download the evaluation software after filling out the required forms on the ISV corporate web site.
  2. Prepare and have the infrastructure ready on premise to install and evaluate the software.
  3. Install and get configured with the software. Start flexing all functionality of the software to see that it works for them.
  4. Make the purchase, provided the software meets the requirements.

Some ISVs have started adopting the appliance packaging route to make step #3 above somewhat easier.

Though this trial download approach has barriers, in some product cases this is a preferred route for the prospects. For e.g., when the primary stakeholder/user is to be an IT administrator/technical user – they typically like to see all the bells and whistles accompanying the software (including its installation and administration). In such cases, they would like to evaluate on-premise locally.

In other ISV cases where the purchase decision/primary stakeholder is the end business user (e.g., financial software, business process software, HR software, accounting software etc.) – software trials via the trial download route can impose a lot of hurdles and needless friction.

How can Virtual Lab Automation help in this scenario?

Virtual Lab Automation ensures rapid, highly repeatable, resource-optimized deployments of complex, multi-virtual machine environments. It allows end users to create, access and work with multi-machine configurations in self-serve and no-hindrance way. If these configurations have the ISV software pre-installed and configured for trial, it provides prospects an easy way to get access and evaluate/try the software. Here are some of the benefits of migrating to such a scenario if it works for your prospects:

Benefits to the ISV of a hosted evaluation system

  • Reduce the hand-holding and effort required during software evaluations (especially around the installation and configuration stages). Setup the systems once and let products like VMLogix LabManager handle the management of the virtual machine environments (including the user access, control and self-serve management). Dramatically reduce the time taken for software evaluations
  • Easily install upgrades/patches/updates to the demo systems
  • Provide every prospect with a pristine evaluation environment with minimal administrative effort
  • Monitor the use of software by prospects (who are the ones conducting the most active evaluations? what features are they most interested in? etc.)

Benefits to the software evaluator/user

  • No-delays and friction in obtaining environments where the software is pre-hosted and ready for use/evaluation. Start evaluating the software immediately and reach a decision much more quickly
  • Access the systems in a self-serve manner (via the web browser)

How are you enabling your prospects with software evaluations currently? Would the use of virtual labs help your prospects and improve their evaluation experience?

– Srihari Palangala

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One Response to Software trials and evaluations – How can they be made more effective?

  1. […] I was reading this post by Ken Hess – My Midsummer Night’s Dream of A Virtual Lab. In the past, I’ve written about how virtual lab management software can help if you’re considering a virtual lab setup for your […]

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