I often have contractors do testing work for me that involves them running 2 or 3 virtual machines (running, say, Server 2008). So currently this means that the contractors have to have machines powerful enough to run VMware Server, with a couple of virtual machines running simultaneously.
What I'd like to do is have a machine in my home office that is accessible from the Internet, and which runs VMware Server (or something similar). This way, contractors don't need to have powerful machines and can dial into my machine and use the VMs. If they get stuck with something, I'll have local access to the server and can help diagnose the problem.
I'm looking for suggestions as to how to what equipment to use and how to set this up so the performance is reasonable for the remote contractor. For example, can I use a somewhat powerful desktop machine (say, a Dell XPS quad-core) running VMware Server? And then have contractors connect via Logmein? Or would I need a server-class machine? (any suggestions for a reasonable price?) Would Remote Desktop be better, or maybe VNC?
I would like to keep costs down as much as possible; this is just going to be running on my home network. But if there is a compelling reason to buy more powerful gear, I'd do it.
As an alternative, are there any companies that provide virtual machines that you can lease on an hourly basis? So that you could do work, save your state, and come back to it the next day? I looked into Amazon's EC2 and that seems too expensive/complicated for what I need.
Thanks is advance for any suggestions!