The cloud infrastructure concept has already been through a 20-year evolution. Back in 2001, the cloud enabler was created – VMware; which made it possible to create virtual machines on top of server hardware. This led to the first Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering in 2006. Before this, you either managed your own infrastructure on-premises, or you rented ‘rackspace’ in a data centre, and positioned your own machines in their racks. You were nonetheless responsible for the maintenance of those machines. However, with the launch of IaaS in 2006, you could now rent server hardware maintained on your behalf.
By 2010, open source platforms, such as OpenStack, began providing open source virtualisation identical to VMware’s products. VMware and Openstack allow providers to run multiple virtual machines on a single server which has allowed cloud providers to provide IaaS in an efficient and cost-efficient way. Typically, users choose their preferred operating system, hardware requirements and other features and then are set to install software applications or development environments. The latest development, in terms of cloud services, are known as containers. Containers raise user management from the operating system level to a level where containers, as well as what runs in the containers, is the only concern. This provides different benefits; such as the ability to isolate various parts of the applications you offer and reuse features to rapidly deploy new containers. The term “cloud native” refers to applications designed to run in containers.
Generally speaking, there are 3 basic cloud solutions available – Dedicated Servers, the Hosted Private Cloud and Public Cloud options.
Dedicated Servers provide the customer with entry to dedicated server hardware and, by that, I mean that the customer is the only customer using that particular machine. The hardware, therefore, is private and not shared with anyone else. This option provides the most opportunity for performance and customisation.
Hosted Private Cloud offers clients the ability to deploy virtual machines across clusters of dedicated server hardware. Startups are changing the world; this means they are often working with very sensitive data or operating business critical environments. If this is you, you may need a highly available platform with SLAs, and certifications for specific sectors to support compliance. A Hosted Private Cloud resolution provides simple-to-use, reliable infrastructure for e-commerce, web and database apps with high availability and compliance measures. You can read more about the top Hosted Private Cloud providers in Europe in The Forrester Wave™: Hosted Private Cloud Services In Europe, Q2 2020.
Public Cloud solutions refer to IaaS, where the hardware is shared with other clients. As a customer, you would have 1 or more instances (the public cloud equal of a virtual machine) operating on shared hardware. Public cloud choices give entry to Platform as a Service (PaaS) choices on top of those instances, used primarily for application development and testing. Kubernetes, for example, provides the containerisation mentioned earlier, as well as Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions. As a startup, your business will likely be producing large quantities of data, and if you’re using cloud solutions, you’ll already be positioned to tap into the power of Big Data and AI solutions available in the cloud. Or, perhaps, Big Data and AI sit at the heart of the product or resolution you provide? Either way, startups are accessing these solutions through the cloud as this case research shows. In addition, the Software as a Service layer, also utilised by startups, provides software applications that can be accessed by businesses from anyplace.
The Dedicated Server, Hosted Private Cloud and Public Cloud solutions all provide entry to various data storage and backup options.
With this introduction, let’s have a gaze at why your startup might need to construct a cloud native application, move to the cloud, or migrate to another cloud provider.
As well as the obvious technology benefits, cloud infrastructure simplifies capacity planning management. For a startup, the workloads you experience will depend on your development stage. Early on in a startup’s development there may be periods of zero workload followed by huge spikes when, for example, experiments are taken to market. Once there is market traction, a startup may experience workload spikes due to promotion activity or just quickly growth when product market fit is achieved. Cloud can make meeting these demands easy; this is due to the elastic nature of the compute power. Cloud can also take the headache out of disaster restoration and other services designed to handle unpredictable events.
There are clear business benefits to cloud infrastructure, too. In fact, the place to start with any cloud strategy is your business goals. Whether you need to be ready to scale globally, provide certified solutions for specific industries, or alleviate unnecessary masses on your team – cloud infrastructure can help. With the current work-from-home challenges, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions mean your team can work from anyplace using SaaS productiveness applications.
Any successful startup founder should also be actively seeking ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. In terms of costs, you need to check what your cloud provider charges for to ensure you have price transparency and no hidden surprises.
It is also necessary to know that many startups move everything to the cloud, and it works. Obviously migrating to the cloud requires specific skills inside your team (read the article about getting the right cloud skills here).
Accessing the Benefits
As a startup, 1 of the best ways to advantage from the cloud, is to join a cloud provider startup program. These programs will often offer credits to entry cloud solutions, as well as support. OVHcloud is a leading European cloud hyperscaler and has been a cloud and infrastructure provider for more than 20 years and offers 1 of these startup programs. To find out more information about the OVHcloud Startup Program and how to apply, go here.
Philip has been working with startups for the last 20 years inside the VC, technology transfer and business incubation industries. He has accreditation as a mentor and business coach and currently leads the OVHcloud Startup Program in UK, Ireland and Northern Europe. OVHcloud is a leading European hyperscaler and pure-play cloud provider.