How do you decide which option is best for your project? Here are five important factors to consider before getting started:
1. Agility vs. infrastructure optimization:
Are you ready to focus on optimizing infrastructure for your application or do you need to be able to be flexible and continue to experiment?
In the beginning, many startups need an environment that offers them the flexibility to experiment and pivot quickly if needed. They may require just a few servers to test their code and get it in front of potential users in order to validate their idea. However, many startups also want the option to use more advanced features – like load-balancing or a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – if their application or user base grows larger over time.
Cloud infrastructure providers typically provide the richest variety of features and options for scaling your infrastructure. However, spending time on optimizing and configuring on a full cloud platform may be daunting, and even distracting for an engineering team. Many startups choose to go with simpler infrastructure options to get to market faster – even if it means that they may have to switch to a full platform later.
2. Variable vs. fixed cost:
Would you rather pay for what you use or have a fixed monthly bill?
Cloud infrastructure providers offer a powerful value proposition for pricing – only pay for the resources that you use. This flexibility allows startups to optimize their infrastructure to scale up and down as their application needs – and not have to pay all the time for the infrastructure that they only need at high load times. However, pay-as-you-go pricing can result in uncertainty about your monthly costs. Unexpected costs can be a risk for startups who are not familiar with how to optimize their usage on a given infrastructure platform.
To eliminate that uncertainty, many startups choose infrastructure with a fixed monthly cost – even though this can result in paying for more resources than they actually use to support spikes in traffic or load on their application.
How critical is the uptime of your application?
For some startups, a temporary and short-lived outage is unfortunate but not earth-shattering, for others it could be the end of their business. The providers with the highest availability guarantees have invested in infrastructure to provide redundancy, isolated data centers and powerful networks. These providers also give you the flexibility to architect your application to be highly available. More availability comes at a cost however, and can be more expensive for simple workloads don’t need extremely high availability. Most startups try to maximize uptime for a reasonable cost.
Are there data centers near your user? Do you need to comply with local or regional data regulations?
Most startups want to have infrastructure close to their users. Delivering applications and websites from infrastructure in the same country or region as your user base provides faster response times and a better user experience. If your users are in multiple areas of the world, you likely want to choose a service provider with a global data center presence. In addition, if you do business in Europe and some other areas of the world, you could be required to store user data inside of country borders. Make sure to understand these regulations and choose an infrastructure provider accordingly.
5. Security and compliance:
Do you store sensitive user information? Do you support industries that require special compliance standards?
Every startup wants their infrastructure and data to be secure. But if your application stores sensitive user information, the importance of protecting your data is that much more important. Look for providers who build their data centers and network architecture built to meet the requirements of security-sensitive organizations and follow best practices for keeping your application secure. In addition, if you serve certain industries, like healthcare, financial services or government organizations, you could be required to adhere to a variety of national or international compliance standards. Make sure that your infrastructure offers the compliance standards you require.
Now be prepared to prioritize and make some hard decisions. Many of these factors require startups to make tradeoffs that can be challenging to change down the road. For instance, an early decision to go with fast and inexpensive infrastructure might mean facing a complex and potentially risky migration process to a provider with more scale and features in the future.
Luckily for most startups, these decisions are becoming much easier. Recently, Amazon Web Services announced a new product to help bridge the gap between early and later stage startups and their changing infrastructure needs – Amazon Lightsail.
Meet Amazon Lightsail
Amazon Lightsail is the easiest way to launch and manage a virtual private server with AWS. Lightsail includes everything you need to jumpstart your application – a virtual machine, SSD-based storage, data transfer, DNS management and a static IP – for a low, predictable price.
Fast & easy
With Amazon Lightsail, you can deploy a virtual private server with just a few clicks in the Lightsail management console. You can easily launch your favorite Linux distribution with pre-configured OS templates or click-and-install popular development stacks, including LAMP, Nginx, Node.js and MEAN. For your marketing website or online store, Lightsail also offers one-click installations of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and Magento. Once your virtual private server is deployed, Lightsail’s intuitive management console makes running your server and its associated services a breeze.
Built on the world’s leading cloud
Your Lightsail virtual private servers run on the same highly available and reliable AWS cloud infrastructure used by several millions of active customers. This means that your startup gets to use the same trusted and proven cloud infrastructure that powers companies like Netflix, AirBnB, General Electric and Capital One.
Grows with you
Lightsail allows you to grow and scale your applications over time. When your app needs advanced features like managed databases, content delivery network, or any of dozens of other features, you can connect these additional AWS services to your Lightsail server.
One simple monthly price
Lightsail offers bundled plans that include everything you need to deploy a virtual private server – including a virtual machine, storage and networking – starting at a flat $5 per month. As your needs grow, you can trade up to larger plans or add resources for a low, predictable cost.
Close to home
In May 2017, Amazon Lightsail expanded into Europe and is now available in the Frankfurt, London and Ireland regions and in all 7 European Availability Zones for AWS, allowing you to provide lightning fast application and website performance to your European customers. Lightsail also is available in 3AWS regions in the United States – Ohio, Northern Virginia and Portland.
With the addition of Lightsail, AWS now offers two paths for startups to get started:
- Lightsail for startups who want a simple virtual private server with bundled compute, storage and networking for a low, predictable price
- EC2 and the full AWS platform for startups who want to deploy more a complex application from the very beginning and who want more flexibility and granular control over their environment
In either path, as your startup grows and your application becomes more complex, AWS gives you access to currently more than 90 services, industry-leading reliability and security and locations all over the world – removing many of the growing pains associated with scaling your startup’s infrastructure over time.
Try it for free
Amazon Lightsail offers a free one month (750 hour) trial for the $5 plan. Learn more and try it out for yourself at AmazonLightsail.com.