Q&A: Cloud and data infrastructure for scaling start-ups

19 Sep 2016

Image: tomertu/Shutterstock

Jelle Frank van der Zwet, Interxion’s director of business development and marketing in its cloud segment, answers our questions on IT infrastructure needs for growing start-ups.

As start-ups grow, so too do their IT infrastructure needs.

That’s why, this week, Interxion and Digital Planet have partnered with Dogpatch Labs to host an information session on data management and future IT infrastructure needs for Irish start-ups.

On Thursday 22 September, a panel discussion will dissect the internet as a starting point for start-ups, and the pitfalls scaling start-ups must watch out for in terms of IT infrastructure growth and data management.

Interxion director Jelle Frank van der Zwet will join Digital Planet CTO Joe Brady and Customer Minds founder Johnny Parkes in this discussion – but first, he answered some of our questions on the subject at hand.

‘Data is stupid and it sits quietly in your database. The challenge is what you do with the data to make it become smart’

Inspirefest 2017

What do scaling start-ups need to think about when it comes to IT infrastructure?

It is paramount that scaling start-up businesses have a solid foundation for their intelligence.

Firstly, any start-up needs to have a scalable model that can be replicated in their IT infrastructure.

When it comes to the infrastructure, it’s not about the computer system, as they’re widely available. The most important thing start-up businesses need to think about is their data. Start-ups need to think about how to store their data, how to access it, how to analyse it and how to use it to further enhance their business.

Is the internet a one-stop shop of online services for scaling start-ups?

That is an interesting way of looking at it, and there is certainly some truth in thinking that the internet is a one-stop shop for scaling a start-up. Scaling implies unpredictable and high growth and, for this to happen, start-ups will require more than just online services.

For start-ups, it’s vital that they find a trusted IT service provider. This will allow them to grow and develop as a business. A trusted IT service provider such as Interxion will help start-ups choose the right infrastructure that is appropriate for their business, and provide valuable expertise, service guarantees and, most importantly, the right mix of hybrid IT infrastructure to support the unpredictable growth of a scaling start-up business.

What are the common pitfalls that start-ups encounter when it comes to IT infrastructure and data management?

Looking at the internet as a one-stop shop can be a downfall. For any start-up, there are a lot of pitfalls and, as a start-up, it’s impossible to prepare for all of them. That’s why partnering with an IT provider is so important. It’s tempting for start-ups to use cloud services, but not all cloud services are created equal.

The biggest pitfall I’d like to point out is the terms and conditions of cloud services. Many start-up businesses accept these Ts&Cs without realising what service levels and guarantees they’re buying and what they’re entitled to. I would highly recommend that any start-up not only makes comparisons between different cloud services but also involves professional expertise to understand what they’re actually buying.

What specific challenges arise when data is your business?

There are many challenges for start-ups when data is your business. Start-ups often embrace tools that they don’t actually need or require. To avoid this they need to have realistic expectations.

Start-ups need to learn to plan ahead, but they have to prepare not to stick to the original plan. To avoid this, they need to be able to change and be flexible.

The most important challenge for any start-up dealing in data is talent and culture. Data is stupid and it sits quietly in your database. The challenge is what you do with the data to make it become smart – this is where the talent comes in.

What are the current trends in IT infrastructure and data management that start-up leaders need to be aware of?

The IT infrastructure and data management industry is constantly changing and evolving. What start-up data leaders need to come to terms with is machine learning. This isn’t the programming of machines, it’s the self-learning algorithms that can solve simple tasks.