Scaling Startups In The Cloud: Ways To Make That Journey
There’s no question that IT infrastructure is heading in one direction: towards the Cloud. For established, legacy businesses who are at the beginning of their digital transformation journey, moving to the Cloud completely might be a hard sell. After all, their current server-based systems work, so why should they change?
However, for emerging startups, even those without experience of Cloud computing, the business benefits of being a Cloud-first organisation from the get-go are obvious. Leveraging the immediate advantages of Cloud-based technology offers viability, reliability, scalability, and security. But what exactly does this mean for a scaling start-up? We drill down a bit deeper into the benefits of the Cloud for early-stage start-ups and scale-ups.
Severing The Server
With traditional servers, the process of getting your business IT infrastructure set up and secured is much more complicated than in the Cloud. Typically, you contact the service provider with your specifications, they send out servers to you, and you’re left to ensure that everything is securely set up on your premises. This can be a time-consuming process which relies on manual intervention, and effectively requires another person to be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the system.
Having someone manually managing the servers can be time-consuming and expensive, and this added layer of accountability actually distracts from the main goal of iteratively developing and improving your product, particularly in the early stages when you may have a small team, or you’re only a one or two-person business. Not only that, it requires more complex resource planning such as: what kind of servers you need, what software you require, and the right type of product licensing.
Migrating To The Cloud
With a Cloud-based solution, everything is there for you straight out of the box. This is a tremendous advantage for an early-stage start-up, because you can use a lot of pre-built features that are already available in the Cloud. These features enable start-ups to put together their minimum viable product (MVP) and validate it much quicker. Without the complicated set-up of traditional servers, Cloud computing streamlines the whole process of setting up IT infrastructure, so that your business can focus on getting your product to market much faster.
Scaling is one of the most obvious factors for choosing a Cloud-based solution to business IT infrastructure because it’s much simpler to do in the Cloud compared with running your own servers.
One of our clients, Bayes, specializes in helping venture capitalists to hire specialists in different kinds of fields on short term contracts. It’s a platform that gives access to a wide network of experts. Due to the nature of their business, they hold a large volume of sensitive data, such as contact details. So it is essential for the company to have a secure and robust IT solution.
In the Cloud, we could very easily separate out their data into tiers, enabling users to access data necessary to perform day-to-day tasks, whilst keeping more sensitive data hidden and secure. Secondly, we could make the system more scalable over time, so that when the organization began to grow, and more people joined, there would be capacity available for new users to gain access to the systems.
Using traditional servers, the process of setting this up would have been very time-consuming. Security engineers and monitoring systems would have needed to be in place: a lot of additional tools and expenses to ensure everything was working properly. Whereas with the Cloud, set up was much easier and more flexible. In just a few clicks and some minor configurations, everything was ready to go. Not only that, there was peace of mind, control, and oversight in terms of security settings and features.
Scaling With SaaS
Another of our clients, Qaasaa, offers an online platform for helping real estate landlords and tenants to manage their communication. The software was originally developed as an in-house solution for the growing number of properties in their own portfolio. There was a clear need for a simple and affordable way to handle the necessary communications between landlords and tenants, such as repair requests. However, they soon realized the potential for making their software more widely available to property managers and owners around the world. So they decided to turn it into SaaS (software as a service).
In order to provide the scalability they required, a Cloud-based solution was the obvious choice. It also enabled the business to become more flexible and future-proof. This means that when larger clients are now looking to embed the platform into their own systems, it will be ready to scale at speed. At the same time, the benefit of the Cloud is that they can count on the security of the platform to handle personal details and information about payments.
Scaling Ecommerce From The Ground Up
The Cloud also provides an ideal platform for emerging ecommerce retailers who need to incorporate vast amounts of products, data, and transactions. Take Blinqed, for example, an app that connects hospitality entrepreneurs with their suppliers from the food sector, helping them to digitize and streamline both purchases and sales. When we collaborated with them, the business was looking for a way to bring their product to life and a technical team who could speed up the time to market using proven Agile ways of working.
We encouraged them to continue with a Cloud-based solution which would free them up from managing their own servers, whilst enabling them to take advantage of existing Cloud ecosystems, such as AWS Lambda. Utilizing microservices, the Cloud offered them a broad range of out-of-the-box functionality to pick and choose from (such as email and SMS) in order to meet their business needs, and without forcing them to engage with multiple third-party vendors.
Final Thoughts On Scaling In The Cloud
In line with our clients’ needs, at Proshore our expertise covers the full range of Cloud providers, including Google, Azure and AWS. Our experience also covers organizations who use their own private Cloud. Whatever the solution, the Cloud offers total flexibility to scale young businesses. There’s even the potential to create hybrid solutions which combine on-premise and Cloud-based technologies.
No matter how you’ve started out, it’s always possible to bring your business into Cloud to leverage the true potential of the available services and maximize your scalability. For start-ups, it’s a matter of choice as to how you use the Cloud. If you don’t have the capacity to manage your own servers, the Cloud is an obvious choice. The key question for start-ups is: do you want to spend your time managing servers, or do you want to focus on developing your product?
A Cloud setup might seem costly in the first place, but it’s an investment in future scalability. You only have to look at companies like Netflix who started small then scaled globally, via the Cloud (where they still are today). And although the initial outlay can be expensive, the time and resources saved by not using a managed server, alongside the Cloud’s potential for scalability and longer term savings, make it a great choice for start-ups looking to grow their business.