How (not) to Break the Bank?


Aside from a few lucky (or shady) early-stage tech startups that are overfunded, the majority are underfunded or self-funded.

You start building the software on your laptops. This works fine until you need to make it available 24×7 online, so you are presented with two choices: Cloud hosting or on premises.

The question is: which one should you choose?

The Cloud option (e.g. Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure) could be cheaper to start off with. However, cost ramps up quickly as you use more resources (CPU cores, RAM, etc.). You will also become locked-in (i.e. hostage) to their ecosystem.

On the other hand, having your own IT infrastructure on premises could be cheaper in the long run but it might suck up your financial resources at a stage where money is scarce. You will also need to worry about availability, backup, cybersecurity and other infrastructure related issues. Scaling up can be a challenge if it is needed quickly.

Like anything else in life, compromises have to be made, so how about bringing the Cloud on premises?

Assuming you have access to a talented system engineer, you can start off with minimal infrastructure that can scale up seamlessly. Here is how I did it:

1) Buy used server with basic specs but plenty of upgradability. Make sure to stress-test it before anything.

2) Install a good hypervisor (virtualisation) such as VMware vSphere. License cost can be as low as £300 for up to three servers. This allows you to create independent virtual machines for databases, apps, proxies, etc. More importantly, you can add additional used or new physical servers to expand your resource pool as needed and upgrade the hypervisor license to enable high availability and fault tolerance features when you can afford it.

3) Get another used server with basic specs but plenty of affordable storage (e.g. SATA disks) for backup. This allows you to restore individual files, databases or entire virtual machines if needed, quickly and with confidence.

4) Use open-source software whenever possible.

With this, you will be up-n-running for under £1K!

The other thing that can (and should) be done is intelligent software optimisation. In other words, you make the software execute faster and consume less resources to achieve the same outcome… but that’s for another post.

Categorised as Proptech

By Jaafar

Founder of AccuVal