While cloud computing can offer significant benefits for many businesses, it is particularly well suited to startup companies. These benefits can include flexibility, scalability and cost efficiency. The cloud can enable entrepreneurs to focus on developing their business models rather than building and maintaining costly infrastructure. Because it can provide on-demand access to almost unlimited storage and computing capacity, small companies can compete much more effectively with large ones.
Startups also benefit greatly from the fact that they are starting IT development from scratch. For existing companies, the challenge of migrating complex systems to the cloud can be an impediment.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge into the cloud, you will need to consider which model works best for your business. Today there are more choices than ever when configuring your cloud. To begin with, you will want to determine whether you are interested in a public cloud, a private cloud or a hybrid cloud.
The cloud computing universe is changing rapidly. Historically, the term “cloud computing” referred primarily to public clouds. As concerns with privacy and security have grown, many companies have now adopted private and hybrid clouds.
Public clouds are typically hosted on shared servers by a third party hosting provider. For startups, the biggest benefits can be realized from public clouds. Scalability and the ability to efficiently accommodate variable peak loads are hallmarks of public clouds. As a result, startups involved with e-commerce sites can benefit greatly from this model. Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are usually hosted on public clouds as well, though many of these companies now offer alternatives.
For some businesses, public clouds do not provide adequate privacy and security. Some startups involved with healthcare, banking and government agencies in particular may even be precluded from using public clouds. For these companies, a private cloud may be a good alternative.
Private clouds are similar to public clouds. However, dedicated servers are used instead of shared servers. In addition to privacy and security, this model can provide the company more control over their systems and data. There are two main options when establishing a Private Cloud:
· On Premise: The servers and infrastructure are housed and controlled locally by the company. Developing an on-premise private cloud is not for the faint of heart. It can be complex and expensive. This model offers the fewest benefits for startups. Not only do you give up some scalability but you must also build and support your own IT infrastructure.
· Externally Hosted: While your systems are still on dedicated servers, they are hosted by a third party provider. This may be the best option for startups that need a private cloud. With this model, at least you can still benefit from outsourcing most of your IT requirements.
If you can’t decide whether a public cloud or a private cloud is best for you, there is a third alternative. Hybrid Clouds, as the name implies, consist of both public and private clouds. For example, if your startup involves an e-commerce site, you may choose to host the site on a public cloud to take advantage of resources available to handle spikes in traffic loads. However, you might also want to run your ERP system on a private cloud for privacy and security purposes. To be sure, there are drawbacks from hybrid clouds. Like private clouds, they can be expensive to build and maintain, particularly if you want the clouds to integrate seamlessly.
Overall, there is no question that almost all businesses are adopting at least some applications in the cloud. There is also a general trend toward establishing hybrid clouds. For larger businesses, hybrid clouds allow them to “have their baguette and eat it too”!
For small startups that don’t immediately require a private cloud, it might make sense to start with a public cloud and add private cloud components as the business matures and more resources become available.