We all have seen how popular solutions like Pinterest or Instagram have become. Considering, for example, that Instagram has been bought by Facebook for $1billion, we can easily guess that IT infrastructure is definitely not the highest weighted value in this transaction.
The guys at Instagram saw an opportunity to be the next socially-engaged Flickr, by reinventing the way people share photos. In a world where cloud-based solutions don’t exist, it would have required a millions of dollars of investment to get that idea going: hosting billions of photos and still being able to quickly distribute it on a large scale requires a high-end IT infrastructure that a standard startup wouldn’t be able to afford.
Cloud killed innovation? I wouldn’t bet on that
Some people argue that cloud computing may have killed innovation since the principle is to get similar interests/features served under the same platform: after all, a cloud-based solution is just a “simple” system where multiple tenants are sharing the same facilities.
But on the other hand, there’s one feature that cloud-based solutions bring to the table: the quick and flexible availability of high-end system for a minimal upfront investment fee. Need large storage? Don’t worry; go for a cloud-storage where you’ll only pay for the capacity you use. Need more computing power? Have your team develop on the cloud where they can access state-of-the-art solutions. After all, why would you need to invest thousands in IT server infrastructure for something that is yet to go through the “proof of concept” phase? Just opt for a flexible cloud-base solution that you can stop (or develop) as your needs change.
Software-as-a-Service solution: a shorter path from idea to “ready to market” solution
Okay, so you’ve got a great startup idea you’re sure will hit the ground running and be the next Instagram (well let’s be honest, we all harbour a little bit of hope, don’t we?) Let’s suppose you want to ride the social-media wave, and that you want to develop an application that will allow people to share their free time with complete strangers that may have the same interest. Now you’ve got your ideas set set – how would you sell it buy instagram likes for $1?
Well, the “easiest” path is to get them distributed to the popular Google Play (for android-based systems) and Apple iTunes – you already have a distribution channel. What about the promotion part? You don’t necessarily have huge marketing budget to start with, but you definitely will have once a big company has “acquired” you. So, as way to validate the proof of concept, you head up to existing social media platforms and leverage on their open API: not only do you get better integration, but you also tap into “ready-to-test” beta-testers that are at your hand’s reach – remember how instagram got so popular by tapping into iPhone user’s community? Now, at the development end: your users need to be able to identify the location where they are based so that they can be suggested some nice things to do during their free time, you can then leverage on popular online maps (Google Maps, or Openstreet map).