13 Sep 2013

Which platform/infrastructure would be best for a new startup?

So you’ve come up with the “next big thing” in business – but your service or goods related startup has now grown beyond what you can provision from your laptop. Or maybe you’ve done your time in front of your IDE of choice, developed your cutting edge code and now need somewhere to host your brain child. Where do you go to get the services you need to help your business scale, either on line or in the real world? Generally you are faced with two choices: Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Option One: PaaS Solutions

For PaaS solutions you are generally limited to providers who specialise in the application development environment you have selected. Services like Heroku provide effective services for Ruby hosting whilst Microsoft Azure provides a very effective .NET hosting environment. The drawback, of course, is that you have to code your application to fit within the boundaries of the PaaS provider. This can be a limiting factor when your solution requires services that sit outside the platform provided and you find yourself evaluating deploying servers to cope with that load. Getting out of them when your application or service needs something new isn’t easy either.

Option Two: IaaS Solutions

If you choose an Infrastructure as a Service provider you are faced with a full menu of services that can be very intimidating if all you want to do is deploy code or host a few applications. Do you load balance, where do you place your web tiers, how do you ensure compliance and privacy? All the decisions, and their consequences, fall to you. Very often hidden costs like internal data transfer, disk IO charges and traffic charges can come back to bite you in the wallet if you aren’t careful. One way to ensure you are making the right choices is to partner with a mature service provider who has the skills, experience and infrastructure components to assist you with the varied decisions you need to make. This allows you to provision your application into an infrastructure that is designed to scale. An effective infrastructure partner will assist you with extending your business idea and will provide a partnership arrangement that ensures you are both successful.

What about Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud solutions through service providers, where infrastructure is cost effectively provisioned from either your own premises, the service provider’s cloud and in conjunction with public clouds such as Microsoft Azure, can be used to extend this model even further. Burst capacity, workload mobility and automation on a global scale with global reach can be achieved, whilst stabilising costs through known base infrastructure. Look for a partner that is interested in helping you scale, ensure your business is successful and is bringing some experience and assistance to the deal. A partner with services that complement the platform or infrastructure services you are using is the best way to ensure your ideas translate into business success, not by buying a credit card and hoping the limit isn’t reached each week. Nicholas Hollings is the Cloud Practice Manager at Brennan IT.
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