A brilliant business often starts with an entrepreneur dreaming up a fantastic business idea. Most entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journeys are often strapped for cash, and according to a recent study, 95 per cent of seed-stage founders thought it would either remain the same or get harder to raise money. Even access to Angel funds at the very start (idea stage) is generally uncommon.
Start-ups want to sprout their ideas fast, and the last thing they want is to spend their time and energy trying to find the ground, dig the soil, remove the weeds before sowing the seed, and water it till the idea breathes life.
What I mean here is that it is absolutely unnecessary for the entrepreneurs (who want to surprise the customer in areas other than IT infrastructure) to learn how to evaluate and buy the server, storage, network gears, software, tools and also find / build / collocate a data centre.
Public cloud is where a start-up should go (and almost every start-up does) to get their IT infrastructure to jump start their development. Public cloud saves time, effort and money; all of which are high premium resources available at the entrepreneur's disposal.
For any start-up that wants to offer services on the cloud, allowing its business to be born into the cloud is important, for reasons such as accessibility, scalability and being able to correct any mistakes quickly and effectively. Investors will want to see this as part of the business model, and customers will want to experience the beta on the cloud too.
The real fun begins when a start-up begins to acquire customers. Now they are live. As a start-up’s customer base grows, the computational, storage and performance needs grow.
Alongside this, security needs become critical, as the IT infrastructure becomes core to the business sustenance, and just as a start-up thinks it is able to manage the growth, the demand starts to climb the exponential curve and you are desperately searching for clues on how to assure service excellence to your customers.
To make the ride even harder, the cloud services provider experiences an outage, and a start-up has absolutely no control over it; the company is completely at the mercy of the public cloud provider. Now, the start-up is trying to perform damage control instead of growing the business further and the media is becoming extremely generous by splashing the news all over.
So what can a start-up business do to avoid this scenario?
Don't believe it if someone tells you that such outages are not very common. By just searching on the internet, you can see many instances of it documented – for example, Microsoft Azure’s systems experienced two outages in March, the second taking place not even 24 hours after the systems had been brought back online from the first outage that month.
Set out a long-term plan
The low initial costs of setting up infrastructure on a public cloud should not side-line a start-up business. As the business grows, it will become evident that any operational time lost due to outages or performance bottlenecks will be very costly through more than just money; reputation and losing customers is also at risk. Therefore it is important to take a long-term view.
It may be worth investing in strategic partnership with a cloud infrastructure and security services provider, who’ll take accountability on its behalf to ensure the continuous monitoring, management, optimal usage and excellent understanding of a cloud vendor's cloud model.
At some point in the journey, depending on how fast the business grows and how the growth intensifies the consumption of public cloud services, there will be a situation where the services on the cloud will begin to tip in favour of setting up a virtual private cloud or even an on premise solution.
If the enterprise is not proactive and does not switch at the right point, the subsequent decision making will be drawn out, complex and even error prone. This, therefore, creates a lot of expense by moving to an on premise or private cloud.
Partner with a provider
Investing in a partnership with a strong cloud infrastructure and security services provider, who is able to accommodate to the start-up, is an important step. As the start-up grows, a partner can watch and proactively advise when to initiate what action that will save the business all the blushes.
The partner should be on the same page as the start-up, i.e. to be able to help and guide the business in the early stages of its development, firmly advise the business as the company grows, and automate many of the operations in its maturity to free up the time and resources for more transformation.
Entrepreneurs who were strapped for cash during the ‘start-up days’ will have a strong and very profitable cash flow as the business successfully grows. At these transition points, a true partnership with a provider will demonstrate the symbiotic relationship that creates a win-win all the way. As a result, visionary and well-planned start-ups will not have any trouble in gliding from a public cloud to virtual private cloud or even to an on premise private cloud.