Should an IT Startup Use Cloud Services? (Cloud Computing)
Recently, I had a discussion about what kind of cloud services an IT startup should use at the famous startup barbeque meeting (called Gründergrillen) in Karlsruhe. The starting point of the discussion was that a friend of mine - also a CTO of a successful startup - told me that they started to use elastic search in their product. As they are already using many Amazon AWS services I asked him if he did try out Cloudsearch. He told me that they didn't try Cloudsearch because it is too expensive. They started to run elastic search on EC2 instances they manage by themselfes. Also other search service providers (like or did not fit his budget. I did not know anything about his use case for a search service I asked him how much money he would have to spend with Cloudsearch or another search cloud service. He told me that the smallest Cloudsearch configuration would fit his needs. Such an Cloudsearch instance costs about 80€ a month. He further told me that he installed elastic search on a set of EC2 instances that already provided mysql database services.

I was completely surprised: For $80 a month you cannot even do regular software updates, log files checks, configuring backups and all the other steps you have to do if you run your own elastic search infrastructure. And why did he run his own mysql cluster? What is the point of using IaaS cloud instances to configure and run services such as mysql and search services by yourself if you can get these services also in a managed cloud-fashion? For me as a CTO of an IT startup this is very clear: If a (professionally managed) cloud service is available for a service I have a need for I use it.

My rules of thumb to decide if I should use a (professionally managed) cloud service instead of setting up a similar service by myself are:
  1. Is the service a critical core service of my business that I need to adjust, enhance or expand in a way my potential cloud service provider cannot deliver it?
  2. Is the price of the cloud service in questions smaller or similar to the price I have to pay if my colleagues or I are spending the time to run the service in question in a similar quality (e.g., uptime, high availability, backup routines)?
If I answer the first question with no and the second question with yes I go with the cloud service. Indeed, the second question is for me most often an easy question to answer. I can easily spend $500 a month for a cloud service (e.g., mysql database service) that is important to my business compared to hiring a well-experienced (database) administrator that costs me a few thousands dollars of wages. A cloud service also reduces the complexity of the business I run. If the cloud service is professionally managed all the cumbersome and error-prone tasks such as backup/restore and monitoring are not my problem as they are part of the service. So, I use cloud services if they are available and I have a need for.

This text represents my personal opinion and has nothing to do with any company I associated with.
Posted by Thomas King at 19:12 2013-08-09 | Trackbacks (0) | Comments (0)

The Difference Between a Virutal Server and a Cloud Server: API (Cloud Computing)
In the classical web hosting business we are currently seeing a trend of what many are calling cloud washing: Every product gets a “Cloud” label attached. A good example is: It is not a virtual server anymore, it is now a cloud server.

If you follow the widely accepted definition of what cloud is (for instance see the wikipedia article about cloud computing) you realize that a so-called cloud server (or formerly known as a virtual server) is only by some means a cloud product. However, at least one important property of a real cloud server is missing from many so-called cloud servers: an API to program them. If you as a user can setup, start, stop, restart, terminate or clone a virtual server by using an API it might qualify as a real cloud server.

For me as a technical guy and CTO of a startup it is very important that I can program virtual - ähm - cloud servers. This allows me to use virtual machines just like any other software library and run different workloads on them. This is also the enabler for many vertical scalability solutions I am working on.

If the hoster of a cloud server product or should I better call it a provider is offering libraries for all the major programming languages (e.g., Java, Python) out there that wrap the cloud server API this is a big plus. A plain JSON, SOAP or whatsoever API is fine however wrapping these technologies in code is cumbersome and error-prone. If the hoster or provider does not offer libraries for his API some open-source projects exist that might fill this gap (e.g., JClouds).

So, for me a cloud server needs an API and a library wrapping this API for major programming languages besides many other important cloud computing properties to be a real cloud server.

This text represents my personal opinion and has nothing to do with any company I associated with.
Posted by Thomas King at 09:38 2013-07-26 | Trackbacks (0) | Comments (0)

Does a Minimal Viable Product Need Any Security Considerations? YES! (Cloud Computing)
I really like the lean startup movement. It is result and data driven, and leads quickly to products customers want. One big building block of the lean startup movement is a so-called minimal viable product. The concept of a minimal viable product means that you build a product with a minimal set of features that might not be completely finished and you show this product to your potential customers so that they can give you feedback about it. You use this feedback to improve your product and add the features customers ask for.

If you just started working on your startup and you just finished your minimal viable product please think twice: Did you add security to all the parts of your minimal viable product that work with sensitive customer data?

I consider security a critical component of a minimal viable product that handles sensitive customer data because if you do not have security in mind while building your minimal viable product it might happen that your customers will sue you before you get of the ground. For instance, if you are storing loginnames or passwords of other cloud services or bank account information and this data is lost because you got hacked your customers will turn on you and make sure there is no version one of your product.

I am not saying that you need a multi-layered, very complex security concept already implemented in your minimal viable product. However, I am saying provide basic security measures for the sensitive data of your customers. These first steps already made during the work of the minimal viable product will help you adding more relevant security features while your product grows. And the basic security measures let you manage the security risks you are facing during the early versions of your product.

I am not telling you this story out of the blue. At a startup a friend of mine works it happened that they got hacked a couple of weeks ago. However, because they had added a certain layer of security to their minimal viable product the hacker could not retrieve any sensitive data of customers. So, be aware and think twice of security!

This text represents my personal opinion and has nothing to do with any company I associated with.
Posted by Thomas King at 22:38 2013-07-25 | Trackbacks (0) | Comments (0)

Other Blogs Talking about MobileKnox (MobileKnox / Safe)
Today, I roamed around the Internet and I found a few blog posts about MobileKnox. Each of these posts reviews MobileKnox. They all come to the conclusion that MobileKnox is a great password manager. Some of them also suggest additional feature we will think about. Thanks for all the good ratings! Did you find another blog post about MobileKnox? Let me know. I will add the post here as well.

Best regards,
Posted by Thomas King at 13:04 2011-04-09 | Trackbacks (0) | Comments (0)

ServerSync Servers Updated to More Performance (MobileKnox / Safe)
MobileKnox and DesktopKnox can be synchronized by the easy-to-use and secure ServerSync synchronization method. ServerSync is the default synchronization method and recommended by us. MobileKnox and DesktopKnox connect to the ServerSync servers in order to overcome connectivity problems if MobileKnox and DesktopKnox are not directly connected to the Internet as it usually happens with routers, firewalls, and NATs.

Today, we updated the software running the ServerSync servers. We spend that last two weeks improving the efficiency of the software. Our efforts paid off and now the synchronization process handled by the ServerSync servers is up to 100 times faster than before. Give it a try you will feel it!

Enjoy using MobileKnox and DesktopKnox.

Best regards,
Posted by Thomas King at 00:21 2011-03-21 | Trackbacks (0) | Comments (0)

First | Previous | Next | Last