Many startups think of hosting as an afterthought—if they even think of it at all. This is a serious mistake. Using comprehensive hosting that’s been configured by an experienced engineer can save you thousands of dollars of dollars and open a world of untapped opportunities. That’s why every startup needs to seriously look into AWS optimization.
Ye olde hosting
When I first started tinkering around with computers and websites, running your own server was almost a rite of passage to earn your geeky chops. For a 2000s fandom site with a counter at the bottom, that was fine.
As the web became more widespread, hosting as a paid service grew in popularity. This marked the internet going mainstream. Businesses were using the internet as a tool rather than the internet being a place for enthusiasts to discuss Dungeons and Dragons.
What worked 20 years ago, isn’t the answer for most businesses today as the web has shifted from a static, asynchronous tool to something people depend on for live interaction.
There’s been a mini-resurgence of self-hosting, and places like hacker news and reddit seem to have DIY hosting solutions posted every week. There’s nothing wrong with this for a hobby site, but this isn’t a serious option for businesses, even strapped startups.
The cloud advantage
The word cloud gets batted around a lot these days. It simply means a distributed set of servers. Businesses rely on the cloud because having a single server, like many smaller hosting companies do, is putting all of your eggs in one basket. Something as simple as a power outage means that your app is offline.
The cloud gives you peace of mind beyond better uptime. Should something happen to your physical computer or server, your entire app could be irretrievably lost. Obviously, this is would be a disaster for any business. The ‘magic’ of the cloud is redundancy—even in the event of a catastrophic failure at one facility, your entire code base is safe and sound at another facility.
Physical location matters, even in the digital world. If your server is in London, your site will load slower for someone in New Zealand. This isn’t trivial: even a single second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%.
I hope this makes it clear that cutting back on hosting isn’t the place to save money for lean startups. On the other hand, hosting can be a lot more than just a digital 250K life insurance policy.
Going beyond CYA
You’re not getting the most out of your cloud hosting if you look at it merely as a way to protect your company from risk. Yes, not losing your entire business because of data loss or frustrating customers because of outages is nice, but that’s just scratching the surface.
eTeam’s put together a complete report about software solutions for retailers that has lesson from years of working with AWS and other cloud providers that goes well beyond the retails sphere.
I encourage founders to look at hosting as an opportunity rather than a liability. The old way of seeing hosting as money down the drain, is so 2000s. Modern cloud providers are more than a place to park your app. Your cloud can also serve as a hub for business intelligence, analytics, alerts and even marketing communication.
Why AWS cloud consulting is a must
With all of that said, if you go into a cloud solution blind, you risk spending more than double then you actually need to and missing out on some of AWS’s best features. As part of bringing your MVP online, it’s vital to find an AWS consulting partner who can get you set up. When you’re looking for a development agency to take your idea to MVP, make sure they are AWS certified or the equivalent if you decide to go with Google Cloud or Azure.
Save up to 75% with reserved instances
One of the most costly parts of old school hosting is that you had to buy hardware or server space to accommodate traffic for your busiest day of the year. Many of our clients have retail businesses, so Black Friday can be hundreds of times busier than a weekday in August.
AWS lets you pay only for what you actually use. In real terms, you pay only for the traffic on that slow August day you use, while still having all the power you need for the Holidays. You get this savings by reserving instances ahead of time; Amazon estimates you can save up to 75%.
Make data part of your hosting strategy
Besides cutting your hosting expenses, AWS can be part of your overall data strategy. Amazon QuicksSight provides robust business intelligence tools for a fraction of the cost of more traditional approaches.
Part of being data driven is always being in the loop. A strong cloud option should always provide alerts and monitoring. This lets your engineers know if something’s amiss at the first sign of trouble. This can mitigate and even prevent costly outages for your product.
Another useful feature to look for from a cloud hosting provider is the ability to communicate with users via multiple channels. Amazon’s SES is the perfect platforms for startups needing to send out email notifications. Like other AWS offerings, emails and other notifications are pay-as-you-go, so there’s no need to buy a premium tier that includes features you don’t actually use.
Going from liability to powerhouse
Startups and even enterprises can benefit from reevaluating their relationship to hosting. Instead of thinking of hosting as a necessary expense, you can use it as an opportunity. That’s why it’s worth hiring an AWS consultant from day one to optimize your cloud expenses, configure advanced analytics and add client communication channels right to your AWS account.