You and your team have been tirelessly working on your idea for a long time. The time has finally come to launch, and let the world marvel at what you’ve built.
But launching a product is never easy. From generating buzz and creating all your marketing collateral to making sure the app runs smoothly, there are a lot of moving parts.
Thankfully, cloud platforms can lighten the technical load and let you focus on early adopters. Read on as we explore how a cloud platform streamlines your startup launch. We’ll also explore how to find the right platform for your needs.
Why Should Startups Use Cloud Platforms?
A cloud platform lets you manage your databases and software deployment without owning or maintaining physical servers or networking gear. The cloud company takes care of all the technical infrastructure while you get to focus on building great products for your customers.
If you're hesitant about using cloud services, here are a few benefits that may convince you.
Hopefully, your startup won't stay a startup for long; you’ll soon need more servers to accommodate your growing traffic.
With a cloud provider, you can increase your resources instantly, and you’ll only pay for what you use. So if you decide to scale down, you won't lose money. Plus, you don't need to pay for more staff to maintain your servers.
When you use cloud services for your startup, you don't have to pay for large servers, office space, engineering staff, and maintenance. So, your startup can save thousands of dollars, which you can put into growing your business.
Cloud platforms provide an extra layer of security for your data. They monitor traffic patterns to identify suspicious activity in real-time and offer immediate threat response. Most startups don’t have the expertise to create highly secure software environments.
Moreover, you can hire third-party security companies to fortify your online environment. These companies enhance your IT team’s capabilities to eliminate cyber threats. And they offer various out-of-the-box functionalities.
When you keep your data on your own servers, you’re responsible for creating backups and preventing data loss. Cloud services do that automatically. They have strict backup policies that ensure your data remains safe even if a few servers get damaged.
The table below summarizes the main differences between on-premise servers and cloud platforms.
- Scalability challenges. Once you scale up, it’s not easy to scale down.
- Ineffective security. Traditional architectures can’t fully protect your data from modern cyber threats.
- Risk of data loss. Your data is vulnerable to accidents and hardware failure.
- Easier scalability. You can change directions any time you want.
- Higher security. Cloud companies have more sophisticated security solutions, and you can enlist help from third parties.
- Reliable data recovery. These platforms have built-in redundancies to withstand disasters and ensure data integrity.
Different Types of Cloud Hosting Platforms
You have three main options when choosing a cloud platform for your startup launch.
Public clouds, as the name suggests, refer to services that are available to everyone. Public cloud providers own all the hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure. And startups pay for access to that infrastructure. Examples of these public cloud platforms are Google Cloud, Azure, and AWS.
- They’re more affordable and scalable.
- You don’t need to manage infrastructure.
- Public clouds are larger targets for cyber-attacks. If your startup is working with highly sensitive information, such as health information, a public platform might not be a great choice.
- You don't have much control over your infrastructure.
- Service costs grow exponentially with larger-scale usage.
Private cloud platforms give each company a single dedicated cloud-computing environment. In other words, you don’t share servers with other entities. Their primary advantage is the extra security, but the costs will be higher. Medical and financial startups usually go for this option.
- Private clouds are more secure and give you more options for bespoke security solutions.
- They're more flexible. You'll have more control over your infrastructure.
- They're expensive, so most early-stage startups can't afford them.
- You’ll need more staff for maintenance and infrastructure.
Hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds. You can keep your most sensitive data on a private cloud while paying less to store your general data on a public cloud.
- They’re cost-effective. You can use private cloud services for the most critical functions and save money.
- They're reliable.
- They're more complicated to maintain and secure.
- You might face compatibility issues since your data is on two platforms.
How to Choose a Cloud Platform
Now that you know so much about these platforms, how should you choose one for your startup launch?
Let's go over the main criteria that can help you make a decision.
Your Team's Skills
As a startup, your resources are limited. Think about your team's experience and expertise. َA product launch isn’t the best time for your team to gain new technical skills.
So, test different platforms and settle on one that your team is comfortable with. Your cloud platform should speed up your development process.
As a startup, you’re bound to face unexpected costs. That's why you need to spend carefully and review your options in detail. Some people think that cloud platforms are cheaper than on-premise services. However, it's not always the case. If you make the wrong choices, your startup might fail.
All cloud platforms come with some level of technical support, but the details matter. Again, you need to look at your team and business to choose the support options that best suit you.
What can your team do on their own? What do they need help with?
You might be satisfied with your current service provider, but the situation might change. You need to be ready to move your data from one platform to another. So, look into your platform’s data migration options before making a long-term commitment. You should never be locked into a service because you can’t move your data.
Top Cloud Service Providers for Startups
With those criteria in mind, let’s go over a shortlist of the best cloud service providers you can consider for your startup launch.
Amazon Web Service (AWS) probably needs no introduction. Many big names, including Netflix, use their reliable services to simplify their infrastructure operations.
If you're interested in using the same services, you can have them at a reasonable price. AWS offers pay-per-use services; you only pay for the resources you're using. This can save your startup a lot of money as you grow.
Another great advantage of AWS is that it supports data migration. You can readily move your data between service providers.
Nevertheless, you have resource defaults based on your region. So you might experience some limitations based on your location.
Microsoft Azure services are excellent for both startups and mature organizations. It's a hybrid service, which means you can use a combination of on-premise and cloud options. This is especially good for when you want to expand your services.
And here's the good news: Microsoft offers a free trial to access all its services. You can try their services and decide whether Azure works for you.
If your team has more experience and technical knowledge, Digital Ocean can be the right choice. It's designed with developers in mind.
Digital Ocean is more affordable than the previous options. It uses a monthly flat pricing strategy, meaning that you can always plan your budget and then pay for the services you need.
Digital Ocean is also a hybrid platform. You can choose to have private servers for some of your data.
One downside is that the service is only available on Linux. So, you’ll need Linux gurus on your team if you decide to go with Digital Ocean.
Google Cloud Platform
We all use Google services every day, so you might want to try their cloud platform, too. And you're not alone. Big startup brands like Spotify and Evernote rely on Google for their cloud infrastructure.
If latency is an issue for you, Google Cloud Platform can be your best option. All services run on its private fiber network, so you can reach your users with the lowest latency.
Kamatera has created a service that feels like a physical server. Their services come with a reasonable price tag, require low maintenance, and have high performance.
You can use the company’s 30-day free trial. And then pay per day, week, or month. Everything is highly flexible.
Oracle Cloud is suitable for startups that don’t want to get involved in technical challenges. It also provides you with on-premise services.
The pricing isn't as affordable as other platforms, but the platform is very user-friendly. It helps startups reduce their complexity and focus on growing their business instead.