There really has never been a better time to start a company. Every company when it’s starting out needs to be able to focus on its core mission, that thing it does better than any other company. The ability to outsource aspects of your business can be invaluable in maintaining that focus. At Freelancer.com, cloud computing has given us the opportunity to off-load infrastructure management and maintenance, which means we’re able to focus on the development of our platform, and on our marketplace itself instead of worrying about disk and router failures.
At Freelancer.com our initial drivers for transitioning to cloud computing were the on-demand scalability that came with being able to spin-up or spin-down servers to meet the demands of our growing marketplace, as well as the opportunity to outsource things that we didn’t want to have to focus on like hardware and data centre management.
We describe ourselves as “the eBay of the labour market” (online labour outsourcing and crowdsourcing), so it made perfect sense to take the concept of outsourcing – something we know to be highly effective for entrepreneurs and businesses in saving of both time and money – and apply it to our hosting infrastructure.
Just as importantly, you can now get on-demand infrastructure through Amazon Web Services (AWS), and labour from Freelancer.com, all off the back of a credit card. No more long term hosting contracts or long hunts to find staff. Amazon Web Services’ pricing is aggressively competitive, and with its service on-demand – you only pay for what you use! When we first started exploring cloud computing we were looking to dip a toe in the water, then scale up organically as our load requirements grew, so being able to just put in a credit card and start hosting immediately was exactly what we were looking for.
Cloud computing, and specifically Amazon Web Services, is definitely at the heart of what has helped enable Freelancer.com to grow so rapidly. As quickly as new users come to our site and sign up to work or get work done, we’re able to spin up new databases to store and serve their data, and web hosts and caches to serve their page requests. We’re about to reach 3 million users and our growth rate is accelerating, so the flexibility that cloud computing gives us to rapidly deploy new infrastructure on-demand is as important as ever to us.
It’s interesting to note that cloud computing isn’t just limited to raw computing horsepower, we also use Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) for most of our object storage (for both Freelancer.com and our digital marketplace Freemarket.com) which provides us with virtually unlimited storage. Our databases also use virtual discs on Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) to store our many terabytes of data.
There are two key reasons I believe most entrepreneurs and businesses will find cloud computing, and more generally outsourcing, an attractive option. First you can respond to extra load by expanding your infrastructure in a matter of minutes – every extra page request is another happy customer! And you can scale back down when things quiet down, only having to pay for what you’re actually using. Second, through outsourcing, you are able to focus down on the most important aspects of your business, and let someone else take care of running your data centre for you.
[Article was published in DEC Shoe String]
Pictured: David Harrison, Freelancer.com