Alan Perkins, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Asia Pacific (APAC), Rackspace, thinks young startups from Asia can take on the international giants when empowered by cloud computing.

He tells e27, “(They are able) to go after big fishes and say, ‘We can kill you’ and be a giant-killer.”

Alan Perkins

Alan Perkins, CTO, APAC, Rackspace

According to Perkins, cloud can be cheaper when it is utilised properly. In an example he raised, a travel booking business based in the UK sees a huge influx of customers right after the Christmas holiday period.

The company would require GBP 3 million (US$4.8 million) worth of computer equipment just to cope with four days of business. When it adopted cloud, the short burst of tremendous success was financed with GBP 300 to GBP 400 (US$482 to US$643).

While that might be true for startups, which have spikes of activity during specific periods of time, it can be a myth. Perkins says, “If you have a steady workload that never changes, and it’s just continual everyday business-as-usual, cloud can be more expensive.”

Not only does cloud allow startups to chase after their ideas audaciously without worrying about technology, Perkins says that it alleviates the common fear of success.

He also analogises with a fishing business. Traditionally, fishermen have to choose between big and small boats. A bigger boat is more costly, but allows room for more returns. A smaller boat, on the other hand, minimises risk and returns. With cloud, fishermen are able to go out to sea with a small boat and quickly expand the vessel size to accommodate returns.

In other words, cloud provides the freedom to be remarkable. That being said, what about data security and privacy? He notes that cloud being inherently insecure is yet another myth many startups buy into.

Perkins claims that cloud is typically more secure than what businesses can do themselves. He adds,

“I used to say as a CIO, if you think you can do a better job of security than you’re probably in the wrong business. … I agree that there are some rare examples where you stand to lose a lot if your data leaks, but just imagine… if Rackspace or Google leaks your data; in most cases, they will have more to lose than you do. To say that they don’t care about your data as much as you do, that’s a myth.”

Managing cloud technologies as a startup
Perkins notes that startups, regardless of location, startups should have a view that cloud enables them to “do whatever they want to do”. However, their management style of cloud technologies might differ from one industry to another.

For Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, Perkins advises that these startups should start with a public cloud offering, unless the product requires discretion. One example would be SaaS businesses dealing with financial regulations or sensitive data.

He adds, “Startups are so restrained in terms of capital investment. … When they start getting success, they can look at the private environment as well.”

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In the case of a startup restrained by the lack of capital investment guarding privy information, a dedicated environment with the ability to burst might be a better starting point.

Perkins also tells this author that there are three things startups should consider with caution before entering partnerships with any particular vendor.

Firstly, startups should tread lightly when it comes to service level agreements (SLA). According to Search IT Channel, SLA is a contract between a network service provider and a customer which points out the services, usually provided in measurable terms.

He warns, “If you are not careful, and you don’t worry about those things, if something bad happens, it can absolutely destroy you.” He adds that while startups can offer “incredible guarantees”, if the service provider isn’t on the same page, the business could fail.

Secondly, startups should make sure that they will not be locked into a particular set of technology when choosing a vendor.

Perkins says,

“… If you are completely dependent on that company, (when) you go public, all of a sudden you get an audit requirement and the department says, “We don’t like that you’ve built such a dependency on Vendor X”. That’s a problem. (It) doesn’t matter who the vendor is. (This) could happen to any vendor.”

Lastly, he advises that startups should always look to retrieve and extract data out in the beginning. It is crucial that these businesses are able to test and make sure their data can be extracted in the timeframe required.

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