The explosion in the number of entrepreneurs and SMEs is changing the UK’s business landscape. But to grow, succeed and see their ideas come to fruition they need to rely on an infrastructure that suits their budgets, rather than draining their resources. Creative entrepreneur John Aitken talks to Hosted Technology expert Laura Brown about how the Cloud can help him launch his ideas. Do you ever feel like you have so many ideas they’re just going to spill out of you? For creative entrepreneurs, developing projects and initiatives they are passionate about are part and parcel of their working practice.
John Aitken confesses he has ideas coming out of his ears. He has several projects all in strategy and development stage that he aims to launch later this year. The online profile of each of the projects, one a social enterprise aiming to create a web community in the truest sense providing advice and support in what’s planned to cover a range of sectors from health, family and employment.
He turned to Intrahost to help support his projects. Each has its own distinct identity and website so he relies on Intrahost for web hosting and domain registration.
“Intrahost has been massively supportive in terms of migration, helping maintain the sites, connectivity”. He says.
One of the main issues, particularly in this sector, is the need for flexibility. For projects to get off the ground they can’t be hampered by huge outgoings, especially if the income hasn’t been secured yet. For John, Intrahost understands that flexibility. For example one of the projects John is working on deals with recruitment, particularly helping looking to get back into work. “My main goal,” he says, “is to develop a mobile solution. I want to be able to help individuals build their work life around their home life and create a better balance”.
It’s an initiative about flexibility that needs flexibility. Cloud Computing means he can find a scalable solution that sits hand in hand with the project throughout the strategy stage. The IT isn’t pulling him down and proving to be a hindrance rather than a help.
So what are creative entrepreneurs like John looking for from a Cloud provider?
“To be honest, it’s a scary option to be doing what feels like handing over your business to someone else. You don’t really know the provider and you have to trust them. This is the biggest thing for anybody. You’re signing up to a virtual space where you worry someone could nick everything off the server. Look at Natwest and the problems they have had with security and reliability. Even large corporates can get it wrong and down time is the last thing you want when you are relying on a third-party to fix it”.
Trust is a key issue for small business but there is also the bridge cloud computing offers for those limited by a lack of funds for investment. The truth is that many small businesses are finding it hard to secure finance. While a large company with deep pockets could see technology as a tool for growth, a SME might see the same potential but be unable to afford it.
A decent bandwidth connection is going to be vital for every one of John’s projects.
“I couldn’t afford to buy T1 cables and lay down £20k to get myself that kind of connection”.
So working with a Cloud provider like Intrahost means he can avail himself of the investment they have already made. That investment doesn’t just benefit John. A Cloud Server means that a variety of entrepreneurs or SMEs like him could all rent a bit of same server, defining their own space, memory and requirements and establishing it on Intrahost’s foundations.
“Security and reliability is important”, John says, “but it’s also about knowledge. Many are still in an old technology state. They don’t see themselves as being able to move to a cloud solution, especially if they have no IT knowledge. Say you’re a lady selling jewellery down the street; you’ll do better if you’re able to sell more stuff online. The cloud would make that easier but she might not know about it”.
So if the benefits of cloud computing for the entrepreneurial and SME sector are to be truly felt, the onus is on the providers to help educate and popularise it.
“It’s a massive step for anyone. Money and security are always going to be the two things that people will care most about. There will always be people who aren’t necessarily behind it but the opportunity is still there”.
At the moment John’s projects are still in the development stage. As he works towards a launch he’s still testing the viability of initiatives, including stress testing and doesn’t know yet how successful they might be. Intrahost offers him a managed solution along with a team he’s happy to trust.
“Currently they offer me a good model. It’s in line with my strategy and we have a good relationship. I’m hoping to move all of my work to their cloud hosting. The proof is in the pudding as we work up to the launch”.