An entrepreneur, by his very vocation, is usually hard up for money at least that’s how he starts off. A webpreneur, or an entrepreneur providing web services, has to balance his budget with the constraints of the present and the realities of future in mind. My friend, John Wilder, found this out the hard way when his fledgling website, which provided counseling services, collapsed due to a sudden surge in traffic. Everything on the internet happens so fast, that unless you are prepared, you are likely to fail along with your services. Here is the dilemma you want millions of hits, but when they actually pour in, you are not prepared. Some nerd may suggest that it is best to go for a bank of a hundred servers in anticipation of coming traffic. Well said, but this nerd will never become an entrepreneur because no one will fund him. Is there a way out? Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue of entrepreneurs who are stuck between the mountain and the deep blue sea.
This new horse in the Internet stable has many virtues, the most important of which is organic growth. This means you can start off as a foal and rapidly grow into a stallion. The old way of expanding, server co-location is a tedious growing up process. Issues like licenses, assigning clean IPs (which are not blacklisted), network configuration and administration, load balancing, security, hardware and software compatibility can easily trip server deployment. Every server administrator has faced these frustrations and knows that the process is mired with uncertainties and consequent delays. Deployment and migration of servers is therefore fraught with delays something an entrepreneur cannot afford. Cloud computing and you get rid of all these issues in one stroke well almost. Two important cloud services providers are Amazon and Microsoft.
Amazon EC2, or Elastic Compute Cloud, is a service in which an entrepreneur can start off with a single server capacity and scale up in a matter of hours (Amazon claims in minutes) to many hundreds of servers. The best part about it is that you don’t have to configure physical servers, which means less pain in deployment. Here, an entrepreneur has to pay for the services which he actually uses, and can dynamically alter the economies of scale. You can not only scale up but also scale down as required. This is a boon for web businesses which are cyclical in nature. For example, demand for flowers peaks during the holiday season and peters out during other months. Cloud computing is probably a tectonic shift in the way we deploy and use web servers. Amazon EC2 servers, or instances as they are called, come in two flavors Linux and Windows.
Microsoft Azure, which is cloud computing service from Microsoft, is a new entrant (around a year old), and therefore, more stable. Developers who are used to working in a Microsoft environment, like asp.net and other offerings, are likely to adapt to Azure much faster than open source aficionados. Microsoft has created a complete bouquet of cloud services which can be beautifully incorporated into an existing environment. For entrepreneurs, the choice is obvious when the web services are hosted on a Windows platform. The cost is a bit higher, but that’s compensated by considering that there are fewer headaches from incompatibility and migration. Azure is flexible, secure and integrates well with other Microsoft offerings.
An issue which is missed, while praising cloud computing services, is that deployment of instances or servers is not as simple as the providers seem to claim. Both Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure require some kind of expertise with server administration. The fine print therefore reads that an entrepreneur has to either have an in-house system administrator or use a service provider. The good news is that Microsoft recommends qualified Azure providers on their website.
There are other providers who cater to niche audiences. If you are looking for a ready-to- eat menu for your e-commerce or CRM website, there are providers like SalesForce. If you are developing your own software, it is better to stick with Amazon or Microsoft azure.
Storage is another aspect which you have to consider as an entrepreneur who said an entrepreneurs life was all champagne and VC funding? Amazon S3 is a great storage solution. Microsoft, as usual, comes with fatter bill. Don’t forget that for Amazon EC2 you pay per hour of usage whereas Microsoft azure has a monthly payment an important consideration for entrepreneurs.
With cloud services, an entrepreneur need not worry about guys hacking their site for fun believe me this can become a messy affair. These are fully secure environments. There is also no need for load balancing and spending nights trying to solve tricky technical problems along with your system administrator.
About the Author:
Nitin Aggarwal is a passionate Internet marketer and blogger. His company, Offshore Ally, is a premier source for competent virtual assistants and link builders. He is passionate about blogging, loves everything Internet, and enjoys gaming. Connect with him on Twitter.