Outsourcing… I’m not talking about sending your customer service calls overseas either.
Things have changed a lot since I started building businesses and that really wasn’t that long ago. When it comes to building a company that is technology related or is leveraging the internet to build and drive business, it is a lot easier and a lot less expensive than it used to be. Instant access to anyone and anything, the drive of the American consumer and entrepreneur and the constant re-doubling of computing speed and power has really opened it up for anyone with a great idea and the passion to see it to its end. Outsourcing used to be a bad term and generally referred to companies using foreign workers to answer their telephones and provide 24/7 customer service for less than they were paying to have business hours coverage.
It isn’t a bad thing and here is just one example covering a lot of small business needs; Amazon Web Services (AWS)
With minimal time and effort, using AWS you can build hosted applications (like Twitter), obtain remote storage, setup billing and payment services, provide content, leverage hosted keyword and optimization tools and even push manual labor tasks out as projects for jobs that cannot be automated and require substantial short term headcount. Below are some of these various services and brief descriptions of what they do. This is a great place to build a prototype, test it, optimize it and even push it live before needing to get any financing, hire any employees, lease any office space or even setup a legal business entity. I truly wish this was around and its benefits explained back in ’95 when I got going with my own companies. The service is free to set going. Any ‘go-live’ fees are minimal and usage based.
- Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. In more simple terms: You can setup your own application server, create your application, take it live and watch it grow without buying any hardware, no network integration, no expensive commercial grade broadband and reactionary scaling where your servers capacity grows automatically as external demand requires. In terms of a web application, like Twitter, the servers that hosts the application, the connectivity to the internet, the storage of information and scalability of it as more and more people use that application grows.
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers. No simplification needed here: S3 is low cost data storage with high availability to anyone around the globe.
- Amazon DevPay is a simple-to-use online billing and account management service that makes it easy for businesses to sell applications that are built in, or run on top of, Amazon Web Services. It is designed to make running applications in the cloud and on demand easier for developers. Simplified: DevPay is used to sign up and bill customers using your applications and collect their payments. This billing can be subscription/recurring based or based on usage of the application. This takes a lot of pain away from new business owners and even established ones stepping up to AWS.
- Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence. The Mechanical Turk web service enables companies to programmatically access this marketplace and a diverse, on-demand workforce. Developers can leverage this service to build human intelligence directly into their applications. While computing technology continues to improve, there are still many things that human beings can do much more effectively than computers, such as identifying objects in a photo or video, performing data de-duplication, transcribing audio recordings or researching data details. Traditionally, tasks like this have been accomplished by hiring a large temporary workforce (which is time consuming, expensive and difficult to scale) or have gone undone. A simple example use: We need UPC codes for all of the products listed in our online store – (VoIP Supply). With my current staff busy handling day to day work and unable to dedicate the days needed to track down UPC codes for 2,000+ products, this task is always going to sit on the back burner. With Amazon Mechanical Turks and access to thousands of people able to work together on this project, we can get this project completed in less than a day for a fraction of the cost, without disrupting my staff and their work.
- Amazon CloudFront works by distributing your web content (i.e. images, video, etc) using a network of edge locations around the world. Your content is then served from the edge location that is geographically closest to the user who requests it. This is best explained visually (HERE) but basically permits distribution of your content globally with the less latency and greater reliability by finding the closest point of storage/access for the person or system requesting your data.