Last Updated on June 6, 2023 by Ashish
Now that your startup has made the decision to move to start in cloud computing, you need to be very cautious in deciding the next step. It is critical to know what to take into account before you start migrating.
It can be challenging for startup companies to research cloud platforms while starting a business, especially if the developers are juggling a lot of responsibilities.
Because we know how tough it is to create a startup from the ground up, we will share some cloud learnings in this article. This is a complete startup guide for anyone looking for affordable cloud providers apart from AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc.
Challenges Faced By Startups Deciding A Cloud Computing Provider:
Time Is Money
Whether your startup is self-contained or part of a bigger organization, it should deliver swiftly and right in order to make revenue. A huge challenge, as there’s no legacy, and time is important.
This is why it’s essential to rely on reputable cloud platforms so that your startup can focus on what it requires to deliver. There are various cloud deployment models that can work for your business. Work on a private, public, or hybrid cloud, for instance.
When it comes to cloud computing, it’s crucial to understand what you get for any investment. It is clear that startups have fewer resources than established corporations to operate their cloud infrastructure.
That’s why you should select a cloud computing platform that can deliver your needs, at transparent prices.
Building, updating, and deployment of new functionalities often require developer resources, which can consume valuable time.
But again, with no legacy and fewer resources, your startup has to quickly and accurately deliver on your promises to earn revenue.
That is why it’s beneficial to pick a cloud platform that provides fully automated solutions, as this will minimize the need to have technical expertise, which would otherwise take more time or require sourcing from outside sources.
Focus On Data Security
You may think that as you are just starting, you should focus more on things other than data security and sovereignty.
However, the most important asset in your organization, nevertheless, can be your data.
Several cloud service providers offer security measures to keep your startup safe in the cloud. Understanding the security objectives and goals of the cloud service provider is crucial before making an investment in a cloud service.
This will help you in selecting a cloud service that complements the objectives and procedures of your startup. Make sure to examine the cloud provider’s past data breaches and their response strategies.
Finding The Right Cloud Provider
Cloud computing platforms provide a variety of business models, products, and modules. They often provide a budget-friendly entry-level model in addition to exclusive discounts for startups and small businesses.
It’s important to know what those special discounts entail. Is there a time limit or a cap on how much you can grow? What happens if you exceed the permitted amount?
Also, it is even more important to know what would be the pricing once your trial period or the special discount is over.
Find a provider who will scale up with you because you never know what the future holds for you.
Understanding The Different Types Of Cloud Providers
The first step in selecting a cloud computing provider is evaluating your cloud needs. Here are a few questions to ask:
What kind of data do you have to store? The cloud provider you need will be mainly determined by the information you gather. Sensitive data must be stored in private clouds, but if your data has no external value, a public cloud will do.
What applications will be stored in the cloud? Your software will need to be kept on the public, private, or hybrid cloud, depending on your industry and business.
How many users and devices should be connected? An unplugged computer that’s buried 5 feet inside the ground is the safest computer on the entire planet. If none uses the computer, then there is no worry about unpermitted access to the data present inside the computer.
Similarly, a cloud server’s security decreases with the number of users. Thus, select a solution that is scalable and represents the size of your business.
What is your budget? Startup companies often begin with a minimum budget so it’s always advisable to choose an optimal solution. Investing in the right provider plays a big role in the growth of your startup.
Once you assess your cloud needs, decide if your startup must rely on a public cloud service or a private one, or if a hybrid cloud will suit your business.
Public Cloud Computing Platforms
Public clouds like Azure, AWS, IBM Bluemix, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean, and Alibaba share computing infrastructure between multiple businesses. However, they keep every business’s data and applications hidden from one another.
Since a third party offers Public cloud services, it’s not required for your startup to look after and maintain the infrastructure.
Using a public cloud platform’s tools in your technology stack is like including top engineers in your startup. All the tools available in these platforms are built by world-class engineers who frequently review and update them.
Therefore, your startup only has to focus on creating your product rather than monthly maintenance.
However, every spending on the public cloud must be carefully monitored in order to avoid overpaying surprise costs.
Private Cloud Computing Platforms
Private cloud platforms aren’t shared with any other company. Every private cloud user has the cloud to themselves.
Examples: Microsoft Cloud, SAP HANA, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, and Google Cloud Virtual Network.
Private clouds do not function all that differently than public clouds, except they serve just your company instead of serving many clients.
Because of their proprietary nature, they work better for changing business models and unpredictable requirements that need direct environmental control, usually to ensure security and compliance.
Regulated sectors like Finance and Healthcare may need this kind of separate cloud as they require additional control over privacy and resources.
However, because a private cloud places a significant demand on local infrastructures like servers, storage, and network capabilities, setting one up on your own can be incredibly challenging.
Hybrid Cloud Computing Platforms
Hybrid clouds are a combination of private cloud and public cloud platforms. Examples: Microsoft Azure Stack, Google Cloud Anthos, and AWS Outposts.
They give you the ability to scale your infrastructure effortlessly as demand changes – without giving third-party data centers access to sensitive customer data.
They offer startups great flexibility in resources, a lot of deployment options than public cloud platforms, and more levels of security and compliance.
Hybrids are the best option for workloads that are very changeable. As business needs evolve, your startup can shift workloads between your on-premises private cloud and public cloud.
For example, your startup can use a private cloud server for sensitive data, and a public cloud for less sensitive information.
However, you may sometimes lose sight of the comprehensive picture of all the information since your resources and information are spread across both private and public cloud networks.
Startup Programs Offered By Cloud Platforms
The world’s top startups and scale-ups use cloud platforms to build their infrastructure. But they don’t do it alone.
Major cloud providers are well aware of the challenges facing young businesses and so they work closely with startups through different cloud computing partnership programs including:
- Google For Startups
- Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub
- The Startup with IBM
- Alibaba Cloud Global Startup Accelerator
- Linode Rise
These programs are designed to help startup communities around the world navigate the challenges and opportunities of growth, get them to market faster, and connect them with the right people, products, and best practices.
Whether you want help solving any technical challenge, employing the right engineers, connecting with a network of fellow founders in your local startup community, or upskilling your technical team, top cloud platforms have every resource you need to get started.
They have an entire space that is dedicated to startups to make you succeed, right from inception to IPO.
To take advantage of their experience and expertise, technical assistance, advisory and one-to-one guidance, ecosystems of buyers and sellers, and history of transformation, you need to apply online.
By qualifying for the scheme, you’ll gain access to 24/7 customized support, expert mentoring, guided virtual training, specialized training workshops, articles and podcasts, audits, exclusive events, and other resources for every step of your startup journey
Tips For Finding The Right Cloud Computing Provider
Map The Business Needs
Your successful move to a cloud platform starts with mapping out your business requirements. This includes transitioning decision-making, visibility, and compliance to a cloud-based server through automated analytics, process automation, feedback, and monitoring.
When you map your requirements, it ensures that your business can operate at a level of productivity that is comparable to or higher.
Be Aware Of The Computing And Storage Needs
Before choosing a provider, it is crucial to evaluate the compute and storage needs and understand the kind of tools and software that are offered by your preferred provider, and whether or not they are suitable for your startup.
This includes picking a provider that will support your engineering and company processes. Example: When your startup relies more on .NET to handle technical needs, then Azure can be the ideal choice for you.
Estimate Your Users And Devices
Before you begin the migration process, you must carefully calculate the number of users and devices you anticipate using the service.
Example: Always aim for 10% more users than necessary. If you have 30 employees right now, providing for 32 or even 35 users will make sure that your startup can grow quickly. Moreover, trainees and interns can also adjust to this extra user base.
Also, choosing a cloud storage solution based on how often you would need your data is advisable. Understanding the nuanced differences between storage options for frequent retrieval (hot storage) and infrequent retrieval (cool storage), helps you zero in on the right cloud provider.
Additionally, it is a good idea to select a cloud provider based on how frequently you would need your data.
Calculate Your Budget
Your choice of cloud provider will be greatly influenced by your budgetary constraints. Considerations like storage kinds, server counts, costs for migration, and costs for connectivity should all be taken into account and analyzed before making the switch.
A great way to calculate your upfront cloud costs is by using the calculator provided by cloud providers like Google Cloud, Azure, or AWS.
Consider Your Technological Needs
It’s possible that not all providers will support your product properly. Before you begin shortlisting providers, it is essential to consider technological compatibility.
Make sure your provider will enable you to be scalable and extensible in addition to your software requirements or hardware requirements.
Example: Startups that use Amazon S3 rely on Amazon Web Services for a seamless experience. Startups that work with .NET and Microsoft SQL rely on the Azure cloud for engineering compliance.
Thoroughly analyze your use cases before making the switch.
Check For Compliance
Make sure the cloud architecture and model you pick are compliant with your company’s compliance standards.
You can select a public, private, or hybrid cloud based on the sector. When using sensitive data, always choose a private cloud.
If your startup conducts business in other countries, check to see if the cloud service provider you select complies with local laws and regulations.
For example, The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a compliance requirement for European Union citizens’ personal data protection.
When it comes to the healthcare sector, the cloud service provider must adhere to the HIPAA protocols (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).
Ensure that you’re aware of the aspects that the cloud service provider will support such as third-party validation, security controls, and activity monitoring services.
Three Affordable Cloud Computing Providers For Startups
A new startup, no matter how brilliant its idea, may have initial financial and staffing constraints. No matter how brilliant an idea is, a new business may have staffing and financial constraints.
Without a sizable IT budget and a systems administrator, which most startup budgets cannot support, it might be challenging to develop a cloud server architecture.
Although cost should not be the sole factor when selecting a provider, it is still an important aspect that must be taken into account. Examine the pricing plans of different cloud service providers and compare them.
Then, pick a provider that effectively meets your needs while also fitting your company’s budget.
From our experience, there are three best cloud computing providers for startups on the market available today: DigitalOcean, Kamatera, and Alibaba Cloud.
We have chosen these three cloud providers to be the top choices after examining and experiencing the top cloud providers and using them in various projects.
We graded each of them using a set of parameters when building a startup from the ground up.
Are they a cloud provider that prioritizes security? – Data leaks are no joke – this is a serious issue. Choose a provider who takes these dangers seriously and is equipped to handle a continually changing range of attack vectors because startups are constantly at risk from increasingly sophisticated hacker attacks.
How many cloud computing technologies, integrations, and options are accessible for your application’s upcoming versions? Do they provide a wide range of solutions? To build for scale, you must ensure that the provider can support your product for years to come by offering a comprehensive suite of solutions.
Ease Of Use:
How quickly intermediate developers can create a basic cloud architecture and deploy the product? How simple it is to iterate over the current cloud architecture? And how steep is the learning curve for new users?
Tutorials and Support:
Do they have online resources and customer support available always to help you get started with various services?
Are they well-established cloud providers? Even though it can be alluring to consider emerging providers, there are some serious risks involved. You need a service that will still be around in five years, as well as a provider with the resources to make sure you are always up and running.
DigitalOcean is labeled as “Cloud computing, designed for developers” for a reason. Developers have a lot on their plates, especially when they are responsible for the startup’s entire technological stack.
DigitalOcean covers everything your early-stage startup needs, it’s simple to use and offers great pricing models.
Its intuitive user interface lets you get up and running in minutes even when using it for the first time. You don’t have to search and scroll through a ton of features, just select your Linux distribution, plan, and location, and voila.
The platform provides a relatively limited number of services. IaaS includes droplets (servers), data storage containers, networking services, and monitoring services.
With PaaS, you may quickly deploy applications that require no configuration, including Node.js, Redis, Docker, etc. Even if the offering is brief, it has everything you require for more than 80% of applications.
DigitalOcean may be compared to a boutique hotel. When utilizing their cloud computing solutions, you get a sense of belonging and are treated as family. Their team continuously expands its offerings in response to requests from the startup community, and it is really appreciated that they are working so hard to satisfy them.
The support team is highly responsive and competent, and free online meetings with cloud experts are arranged to assist you in planning your server’s architecture.
The Digital Ocean tutorials library is limitless. You’ll discover results from DigitalOcean’s tutorials library in practically every Google search about a topic related to servers or cloud infrastructure.
Their tutorials are well-written and go over both key ideas and the specifics of how to accomplish your task. By following DigitalOcean’s tutorials, you achieve your goal while also picking up new skills.
DigitalOcean’s transparent pricing options include pay per hour and pay per month. With DigitalOcean, you won’t have any surprise costs – you only have to pay for the used resources, and you get so many helpful additional components as a free-of-charge service.
You can calculate the precise cost that will be charged, because of fixed prices for every droplet unit.
Starting at $5 per month for a 512MB droplet, DigitalOcean suits well for small projects. Apart from droplets and data storage units that are charged based on your needs, alerts, networking, DNS management, monitoring, etc. are entirely free of cost.
Kamatera is a global cloud service provider that provides top-notch cloud infrastructure services to companies of every size. The Kamatera Managed Cloud is essentially an add-on service where their team manages your cloud infrastructure for you.
Therefore, you can benefit from cloud computing without actively maintaining a very complex computing system.
This platform saves you time and effort by taking on many of the activities that you or your IT team would normally have to complete.
Their cloud experts are highly trained and they manage cloud infrastructure full-time, so you can rely on this platform to use rapid, effective, and dependable service so you can focus on important things.
They provide customized solutions including designing, developing, and managing the cloud infrastructure. This may range from one server to hundreds of servers, depending on your business needs.
They maintain, support, and monitor your infrastructure from their NOC (Network Operation Center) at all times. This involves your cloud server, operating system, database, web server, email server, load balancer, firewalls, and every other component your product relies on to give maximum uptime and availability, 24/7 – day and night.
Their cloud computing infrastructure is best suited to startups as it provides a great level of efficiency and dependability, affordable cost, and immediate scalability. Starting with one CPU, your initial cloud server will have 24/7 availability, connectivity, and processing it needs for the growth of your startup.
As your demands fluctuate, you can easily enhance these resources. For smaller teams without a systems administrator, their cloud servers are an ideal low-maintenance option.
Because cloud computing is virtual, you don’t have to reinstall the software, change hardware, recover from crashes, and such. You may focus on growing your startup without having to worry about these things.
Importantly, the platform provides unrivaled customer service to startups, offering great support in addition to discounts and sponsorship in a few cases.
Managed hosting services are priced per month per server, for a three-month minimum (if the server is discarded before the three-month term has passed, this is not applied).
Cloud Managed Basic Service- $50 per month per server and offers operating system-related services.
Cloud Managed Extended Service- $120 per month per server. For companies that want to outsource Kamatera’s technical team to manage multiple operating system problems, the provider gives an extended service plan.
The extended plan comes included with all the services that the Managed Cloud Basic service covers.
Alibaba Cloud is making good progress and is beginning to challenge the major cloud service providers. It has established data centers, launched workspaces, and hired several employees over the past two years.
Small and medium-sized businesses, startups, independent software vendors, and partners all use Alibaba Cloud for their IT environments, indicating widespread usage of the platform.
The platform offers every kind of cloud service a startup may possibly require. These storage options include backup, archive storage, hybrid storage, object storage, data transfer storage, shared file storage, and storage for disaster recovery.
Many cloud service companies don’t provide all of these options and your startup doesn’t have to make compromises on the kind of storage needed by your product.
Additionally, Alibaba Cloud’s storage options are extremely safe and encrypted, enabling your startup to store, move, and access all of your data from any place without worrying about a data leak.
Also, if you are a startup that’s looking to utilize the cloud for a relational database, then the best option is Alibaba Cloud as it offers a high number of choices and services as part of the relational database.
Alibaba Cloud’s full suite of cloud services enables startups to scale more quickly and get a competitive edge. In terms of fostering creativity, some of Alibaba Cloud’s services are incomparable to those offered by other cloud service providers.
Examples: Flexible data warehousing, data modeling, cognitive analytics and visualization, and an intuitive user interface (UI) in the platform’s big data analytics solutions.
Along with its big data analytics offerings, Alibaba Cloud is renowned for fostering innovation through its cloud firewall, content delivery network (CDN), and database products.
There’s no cloud service provider that can match Alibaba Cloud in terms of cost optimization or reduction for cloud services as well. For example, it has come up with an Anti-COVID-19 SME Enablement Program to help companies during the pandemic with its digital transformation by offering $300 to use the cloud and cut costs.
The platform also offers services like DingTalk, Alibaba Mail, Short Message Service (SMS), and more
to optimize the budget by ensuring business continuity while undergoing a digital transformation.
Alibaba Cloud is the least expensive Cloud provider out of all of them, costing about 25% less than the competition. It also has greater CPU and memory usage, making it better suited for all workloads.
Because of this, your startup can implement reliable enterprise-grade cloud services for a low initial investment and with flexible payment options.
Major cloud computing platforms offer a one-year or three-year purchasing period. However, Alibaba Cloud offers different purchase conditions; the platform is available for purchase on a subscription, reserved instance, and preemptive instance basis.
Therefore, this makes it easier for you to allocate funds in accordance with your startup’s demands and greatly lowers the overall costs associated with the cloud. Additionally, you can pay beforehand to avoid upfront expenses or pay only a portion of upfront costs.
The Object Storage Service price would be calculated based on overall disk capacity, data transfer volume, and API request counts. $0.0185 per GB per month for capacities and conversion costs of $0.076/GB downstream (upstream is not charged).
In public cloud computing, with services being billed every second, it’s nearly impossible to optimize the costs by 100% – very few companies can expect to come close. So should you choose a private cloud instead?
Well, the most crucial thing about cloud providers is to have one. In the current world, it is far better to have your product deployed in a somewhat smaller cloud provider than continue to argue about which cloud provider is best when you have no idea where your startup will be 3 months from now.
If you are familiar with any of the cloud providers, utilize it for your main startup unless you are sure it won’t meet your needs.
When building side projects, we strongly encourage you to experiment and play with new cloud providers.
Who knows, you might end up exploring a totally unheard-of cloud provider that is much more efficient for a startup.
If you know of any other cloud platform that we missed adding to this blog, please let us know by commenting below. This will certainly help some other startups who are also in your stage.