Guest post by Rahman Memon, CEO YZM technologies
At some point of our professional career we need to make a decision whether we want to continue working as an employee and have a safe income at the end of each month, have holidays and sick leave and all the other benefits that a nine to five job brings or take a plunge and start our own journey and follow our passion and dreams.
As my colleagues say I was one of the brave ones to leave the comfort of a secure job and start my own journey to be successful and follow my dream.
As a developer working in the software industry for the last 18 years my passion has been to look at the business processes in the SME sector and increase their efficiency by automating repetitive tasks.
One of the common themes between all startup businesses is that there is not enough cash for acquiring sufficient IT infrastructure and software licenses for development. However there are some organisations who have special programs to support the startup community and I would like to mention that one of the best programs out here is Microsoft BizSpark. It is a very generous offer by Microsoft and in my case it was a great help.
When I started working on my product (http://www.easytrace.com.au), I initially planned to use a standard virtual machine hosting environment but when I summed up the cost involved in running multiple virtual machines during the development phase I soon realised I wouldn’t be able to afford the dedicated virtual machines for development, testing, staging and production.
Since I wanted to offer my product as SAAS, I wanted it to be a scalable, easy to use and affordable solution for every small business. To achieve these goals I needed to find a platform that can scale as my customer base grows, it needed to be secure and reliable and most of all does not require a huge amount of upfront investment and dedicated virtual machines were not a solution.
This is when I started looking at Cloud platforms and it was a huge relief to see that Cloud platforms have come a long way. Not long ago only the corporate and big companies could afford to have the infrastructure for developing large applications and ability to scale up when required, well, Cloud platforms have now made it easier for small startups like myself to dream big and develop enterprise scale applications.
I looked at the Cloud platforms and found that there are two major players at the moment, I compared both AWS and Microsoft Azure platforms and since my application was going to be based on the .Net stack I selected Azure. I found the Azure management portal to be very easy to use, the setup was a breeze and most of all it offered all the required services and APIs that I needed for my product.
My application has the requirement of storing large amount of images and binary data and it was great to see that Azure blob storage was just made for that purpose. I ended up using web role and backend role compute instances for application delivery, queues and table storage for job processing and SQL Azure for transactional data.
Being part of the BizSpark program I also had access to $160 worth of monthly credit towards Azure services and in my case it covered a good part of my dev/test cost. I extensively used the staging and production environments for internal and external testing.
One of the great features I use for my application is the Azure auto scaling feature. Based on the CPU usage and the backend workload I let Azure scale up and down the number of web and worker roles instances. This is a great cost saving as I don’t need to pay for the additional compute hours during the night and over the weekend when there is not much traffic.
At present I am targeting the SME market in Australia and one of the questions that I have been asked a lot is where the data is stored. Well, the recent openings of Azure datacentres in Victoria and New South Wales enabled me to tell my customers with confidence that our services are hosted in Australia.
When evaluating the Cloud platform I didn’t consider the future road map for the Cloud platform to be a deciding factor, however it has become a very important aspect now. If I want to offer my customer value added services I need to constantly innovate and improve my product and I need additional services and features from the platform to help me achieve that. With Azure releasing its new features and constantly improving its services, I have no doubt that I made the right decision choosing Azure as my platform.
Rahman Memon has been working in the Software Industry for 20 years and runs a Perth based software development company (http://www.yzm.com.au ).