Startups: Drop the Rules; Think Cloud

By Flux7 Labs
September 15, 2014

Just this month, Google made headlines for offering a $100,000 cloud credit for startups. As a startup, did that get your attention? The Google Cloud Platform for Startups is a program opened to early-stage startups. The can qualify for a $100,000 credit and 24/7 support.

Well, that’s an interesting offer on the table!

In a recent annual survey, the Future of Cloud Computing, North Bridge, in collaboration with Gigaom Research, found that 45% of respondents wanted to or were already running their business on the cloud. It also uncovered that 65% to 70% of business applications will transition to the cloud by next year. While 49% cited revenue generation and product development as cloud benefits, another 35% claimed innovation and competitive advantage as reasons for cloud migration.

Aren’t those promising cloud stats? Did the benefits mentioned above in regard to migrating to the cloud relate to your startup needs for a cloud infrastructure?

Consider IDC’s 2013 Global CloudTrack survey that was released last November. One of the findings were that nearly 44% of the respondents indicated a lack of good skills to thoroughly enjoy the cloud benefits.

Click here to learn “Why Startups Need Good Cloud Consulting Partners.

There have been mixed experiences and views when considering the pros and cons of cloud services. Following the crowd takes you nowhere … fast. Why? Cloud migration is not just a technology or tool to experiment with; rather, it means a whole lot of process and culture change throughout your organization.

It is important to apprehend this change at both the business and technical levels. Your stakeholders’ or C-level executives’ questions to ask while choosing a cloud infrastructure strategy must be focused on cloud benefits. In this way, the decision adds to your organization’s customers, resources, cost and time.

However, it is also significant that your IT team embraces such change. How do you instill this? And, what’s expected of your technical team?cloud_mantra

To start, here’s the mantra to adopt: “Drop the rules and think cloud.

Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt puts this in a nice way:

New technologies provide benefit only if you drop the rules that were designed to overcome the shortcomings of the old technology.”

Now, here’s how you can drop the rules and leverage the benefits of a cloud architecture. Food for thought is outlined in the following three points:

1. View your servers as cattle, not pets.

2. Automate, not documate.

3. Rent, not buy.

Let’s explore them one at a time.


View Your Servers as Cattle, Not Pets

This is an interesting service model proposed by Gavin McCane from CERN.

What does it mean to treat your servers as pets?

Every server has a personalized name. It’s unique, special, and given the best attention. You won’t replace it for the world. You try and fix the server when it begins to act faulty.

What does it mean to treat your servers as cattle?

In this case, it’s just a bunch of servers that are assigned random numbers. One is no different from the other. They are identical at all levels. They are not cared for when faulty. When one goes down, you go out to buy a new server to replace the faulty one.

The difference: The idea of using servers as pets has some pretty straight forward disadvantages, which includes turning the attention of your entire workforce to fixing one faulty server. Is that a problem? Well, you begin to lag behind your fast-running competition. You lose your edge on competitive advantages, drain your resources on futile tasks, and miss on hitting your primary business goals.

Setting up cloud infrastructures offers the following features. These are reasons that strongly support the use of servers as cattle:

  • Pay-Per-Use: You don’t pay upfront for your servers. So, there’s no need to worry when one of them becomes faulty. You can just spin up a new server and replace the faulty one.

  • Faster Deployments: The ability of the cloud to create scalable infrastructures gives it the upper hand over traditional methods and models. The time taken to deploy a server is usually within minutes as opposed to traditional methods which can take at least a few weeks before a new server is set up on-premise.

Automate, Not Documate

Can you list some of the mundane tasks that are currently being documented by your IT team?

Here … let me just list a few:

  • Creation of network

  • Software installation

  • Bug detection and handling

These are some of the most common tasks that are part of any organization, any IT team.

A proper and well-done documentation serves the following purposes:

  • Helps ramp-up new hires.

  • Eases setup for new servers and systems.

However, given the involvement of a human element in creating such documents, there are increased chances of errors and other manual work. This can be greatly reduced by using the push-deployment feature of the cloud to automate application deployment. By automating such tasks, like software installation and network creation, you not only reduce the error rate, but also streamline your team to achieve your business goals.

Rent, Not Buy

One of the standout benefits of any cloud-based infrastructure is the ability to pay for what you use. The benefit doesn’t end with the cloud services. It’s also applicable for the third-party tools that several cloud providers support.

What sort of third-party tools are we talking about here?

Tools that ease health checks, error detection, monitoring, logging, service registry, discovery, and so on. The end goal is to set up and put in place proper and appropriate disaster recovery strategies. Such tools help detect problems long before they are bound to happen. They easily ensure and enforce the business continuity for your startup.

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