Non-technical stuff in an IT company
or Developing AJAX Real-time Web Applications
Evangelising Amazon Web Services to Startups
Amazon Web Services(AWS), a major provider of IT infrastructure and application services, has more than 30 products and services(as of November 2012). Incorporating Amazon Web Services into any company IT architecture is not an easy endeavor. The sheer number of offerings is a huge challenge for startups which are usually understaffed. So how can a IT giant assist small entities to adopt her offerings for their benefits and advantages? Based on the article Accelerating technology product adoption for startups , AWS can try some of these strategies
- Standard solutions AWS offerings are packaged from IT specialist perspective. Most startup founders and junior IT guys cannot really appreciate differences of Relational Database Service(relational database offering) and DynamoDB(NoSQL offering). Therefore while marketing AWS offerings to IT specialists, AWS can create packages that are friendly to startups and non-IT specialist users. Below is some examples.
a. 247 website - reliable website hosting = ec2 + elastic block store + auto scaling + beanstalk
b. conquer-the-world app - distributed application hosting for worldwide audience = 247 website + cloudfront + flexible payments service + elasticache + route 53
c. company-on-cloud - hosting for enterprises = 247 website + virtual private cloud
- Automation Automation is one of weak areas for AWS among non-technical users. Beanstalk is a good start. Startup users are expecting richer administration and automation product like RightScale. They want a product to manage different AWS offerings but also automation tools to reduce manual work.
- Open source While AWS cannot expect open source enthusiasts to develop and support its core offerings, they are excellent in voluntary evangelism. AWS can engage open source enthusiasts to broaden her support base which is crucial in lowering support costs. One mechanism in recruiting open source enthusiasts is releasing the next major release of BeanStalk as open source software.
- Incremental cost One of strong points of AWS is progressive pricing. AWS free usage tier is very attractive to all startups. So what can AWS do more for startups in term of costing and cash flow control? How about deferring costs of consultancy?
- Self service sales process To extend on user-centric packaging, AWS should have a microsite to help users in choosing the right packages and budgeting. Besides lots of information, there should be a wizard to guide the user in deciding the right package based on initial requirements . Another issue for users is budgeting. Because no capital expenditures are involved, they have no idea how much AWS services cost. To assist users in budgeting, there should a wizard to estimate monthly cost based on a few assumptions. Instead of asking number of hits, there should be analytics tool to analyze traffic and suggest recommend budget.
Accelerating technology product adoption for startups
Selling any products and services to startups are tough including those related to technology. They want quality solutions at much lower cost and are available almost instantly. How do you do these - delivering quality solution at lower cost and in shorter time frame? Try these tactics!
- Standard solutions for common requirements
- Automation with graphical user interface
- Open source
- Incremental cost
- Self service sales process
Team Leading Lessons Learned
- Serve first, then lead by example and last is command
- Be generous with praise and stingy/specific with criticism
- I do not know everything
- Everyone has something to offer
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
- Be firm on basic principles, e.g. punctuality, team-first, being fair
- Training is an investment, not an expense :-)
Further Lessons Learned From IT Outsourcing Team
This is second part of insights from one of three founding members of a Kuala Lumpur-based offshore development team for a web-based pension system(2009-2011). You can view part 1 of enterprise application development offshore outsourcing lessons here.
- Office Internet.
- You absolutely cannot assume quality of Internet access in a Kuala Lumpur office.
- To shortlist a potential Internet Service Provider, ask Internet network route between your office and your remote server. Include the Internet Service Provider into the list if ping time is less than 350ms and packet loss is less than 5%.
- After you have the list, regardless of what you know about the providers, have trial runs if possible. At minimum you must solicit opinion of existing customers of shortlisted Internet Service Providers in your office building.
- Talent management
- Like other countries, extremely good/bad employees are the minorities. Do not believe in over-optimistic/bearish views on talents in Malaysia.
- Like other countries, avoid resume keyword scanning and read resumes with a pinch of salt.
- If your company is unknown in Malaysia, be prepared to spend time and money to promote your company.
- Malaysia job market seldom experience boom cycle because of Malaysia relatively obscure position in global IT outsourcing ranking. On the other hand, unemployment rate in Malaysia seldom exceed 4%. This is due to relatively low salary cost and entrepreneurial spirit of Malaysians.
- If you have lots of expectation especially in technical areas, be prepared to compete with other well-known Malaysia employers.
- Generally married employees are more suitable for European companies and singles are for US companies.
- Comparing to life in Singapore and Hong Kong, life in Kuala Lumpur is more relax. So is the people in Kuala Lumpur. Therefore adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Multiculturalism in Malaysia has made the people more adaptable.
- Office politics
- For the first few years in offshoring, it is expected client employees will make most of decision. However to keep better employees in offshore team, they have to be given more opportunities and a voice.
- Kuala Lumpur IT outsourcing selling points
- Lower infrastructure costs(office rent, utilities, etc) if you compare with similar costs in Singapore and Hong Kong.
- Friendly to small and medium-sized outsource employers due to population size of 28 millions(2010).
- Avoid risk concentration. If your competitor already has an India-based IT team, then it make sense to consider Malaysia.
- Physical and cultural proximity with some Asian countries of outsource employers like Singapore and Hong Kong.
- Abundant talents who are fluent in English.