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Growing up in the cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) turned ten earlier this year and posted some pretty impressive figures to go with it (which have continued to impress in subsequent quarters). The public cloud provider revealed it is on course to generate more than $10bn in 2016, which highlights the success of the public cloud. 

Organisations from all over the world are tapping into this success, but could it also be the driving force behind successful start-ups? If so, what can enterprises learn from start-ups flourishing in the cloud?

Airbnb and Uber highlight the success that can be achieved from launching a start-up. Both are now Unicorns, meaning they are valued at over $1B and both would have struggled to reach the growth and global scale without the cloud. The public cloud can offer start-up businesses benefits including scalability, security, compliance and speed to market, all of which are crucial when launching a business.

The success being enjoyed by start-ups utilising the cloud can be shared by enterprises. Even if organisations have legacy infrastructures to consider, the cloud, if used to its potential, can provide benefits and generate an innovation ecosystem.

More haste, less speed

Unlike enterprises who will already have infrastructure in place, this could be the first IT environment for a start-up and it is understandable why public cloud services can be an attractive option. Anyone with a credit card can purchase cloud services and they are quick and easy to set up - and equally, tear down.

Understandably, the focus for a start-up is not likely to be a key aspect of their technology such as data storage, let alone the scalability, compliance or security of their technology. The techies, if they have any, will just be focusing on what they are good at and getting the business off the ground. It is not unusual for them to discover further down the line, as they grow and become more savvy about their IT infrastructure, that they realise even public cloud does need more attention. However, it isn’t necessarily something that requires an IT team to handle.

But as start-ups grow, and their technology needs to become more complex and ambitious, many are now choosing to partner with Cloud Service Provider (CSP) experts to take their use of cloud to the next level. The role of the CSP can focus on a range of key requirements, including:

Scalability - For the majority of start-ups, growth is a major part of the plan. Dealing with this growth is crucial to the success of the business. If the idea takes off and the business starts to grow, then keeping up with this could be make or break. It may sound dramatic, but if a customer base starts to grow and then the technology can’t support growing demand, people will take their business elsewhere. For any start-upusing on-premise storage, this is going to be difficult and expensive. The public cloud, utilised to its full potential with a CSP, will not put on limits on the amount of growth. This was one of the main driving forces behind the success of Airbnb and helped it grow at a very fast rate.

Security - Hacks, DDoS attacks and data loss all seem to hit the headlines on almost a daily basis. This shows that the threat landscape is as complex and dangerous as ever with cyber criminals constantly trying to get the upper hand. Start-ups are not excluded from this threat and having the correct security in place is crucial. With a small IT team, start-ups are unlikely to be able to keep up with the evolving threats. This is fast becoming a 24x7 operation and having a managed cloud space, with security implemented into it is vitally important to stay up-to-date with the latest threats and remain secure. Falling victim to cyber crime is likely to cause a lack of trust amongst a growing customer base and could mean the end for any emerging company.

Compliance - Regulations such as the US-EU Privacy Shield and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can make storing data complex. This affects businesses that are dealing with both localised and global growth, meaning there can be multiple sets of regulations to adhere to. If organisations are growing in the cloud, the data they are generating could end up on a server anywhere in the world, making adhering to local compliance rules complicated. Just like security, it can be hard for small IT teams to keep up with the changing landscape and again working with a CSP can keep organisations within regulations and avoid fines.

Take off

There is a lot to consider when launching a start-up or making a large enterprise more innovative. By working with a CSP in a public cloud environment, they can focus on what they do best - develop business strategy and not worry about spending too much on their infrastructure, facing restricted scalability and not remaining both compliant and secure.

The cloud is a great way to get off the ground if managed to realise its full potential.

Kevin Linsell, Director of Strategy & Architecture at Adapt

Image Credit: Chaiyapop Bhumiwat / Shutterstock