It was during the dot-com bubble that the word ‘startup’ exploded into everyday nomenclature and came to symbolise a new generation of entrepreneurs using technology and web hosting platforms to build wonderful, exciting (and yes, sometimes totally useless) web applications.
While in those days the idea of delivering operating systems, applications or databases from a remote hosting center to a local PC, seemed fantastical and unrealistic, there ‘were a few like Marc Benioff at Salesforce who saw the opportunity to turn the word application service provider (ASP), still a new term, into a revolutionary marketing and technology platform called cloud computing.
While the bubble popped and the economy tanked, it laid the seeds for the next evolution stage of Web 2.0 software including Friendster, MySpace, Facebook and Google.
It also forever married the word ‘startup’ to ‘cloud computing’. In many ways, a virtual private server, or VPS, is now the easiest, most economical ways, for a startup to leverage cloud technology to kickstart a new venture. This comes in the form of hosting platforms, operating systems (Windows & Linux) and a range of other famous open-source products including MySQL and self-hosted WordPress blogs, all of which are delivered extremely quickly from web hosts to a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone through an Internet connection.
Never before have British startups been able to launch an idea, product or service in less than 48 hours using a domain name, a VPS, a WordPress CMS or blog, and the underlying LAMP architecture comprising of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.
Even the marketing aspects have been streamlined (and in some cases automated) by features built into the hosting panel dashboards such as cPanel and plugins for WordPress such as All-in-one-SEO and Google Analytics that allow website owners get ahead with Google and social media.
Of course deploying these features in unison does require some experience and patience, but the complexity has been reduced to a point where it is no longer a ‘technical’ exercise but simply a matter of clicking a few buttons to deploy the application you require for the job.
And, while cloud computing has allowed startups to act faster than ever before to launch and market their business, this process is being accelerated by further innovation taking place in web hosting engineering departments. In a constant effort to separate themselves from their competitors they are hiring the best cloud engineers on the planet and expending huge amounts of resources to make the web hosting platforms ‘startup friendly’.
In the past, a business owner needed to hire a Windows or Linux administrator to design and deploy the right mix of CPU, Storage and RAM, the core elements of a server used to power your web applications. Nowadays, you simply slide a button up or down as you would a volume button on a music system. The resources are independently controlled and manipulated by your mouse button. This simple innovation is called ‘on-demand’ computing and is rightly labeled ‘revolutionary’, a word we do not like to use flippantly.
The ‘server engine’ is now completely hidden from view and controlled by a friendly steering wheel and ‘gas pedal’ allowing you to scale resources up or down at a moment’s notice.
Thus, if your new product becomes an overnight Easter or Christmas sensation and ecommerce sales spike to unprecedented levels on what would otherwise be a quiet Sunday evening, you simply slide your RAM and storage buttons up to deal with the surging traffic. When the peak is over, you can scale back down.
UK startups currently conceptualising new patents, products or services should consider a VPS a key technological cornerstone of their IT platform. It is a simple, clear and necessary choice for business leaders who wish to mitigate risk and control their destiny on the World Wide Web.