Setting up IT Infrastructure for a Start-up: The Stuff You Can’t Ignore!
In addition to having a good idea, good employees and the necessary financial resources, there’s something else that’s particularly important for a start-up: secure and reliable IT infrastructure. While founders should be thinking about this right from the start, they shouldn’t rush into hasty decisions either. Ideally, they should employ a flexible infrastructure that adapts to their start-up as it gets bigger and more successful. Find tips for setting up IT infrastructure here.
Which IT Solution Does My Start-up Need?
When it comes to setting up IT infrastructure, a start-up should first of all make sure they know which IT components they really need at the beginning. In other words, what problems or issues do you need an IT solution for right from the start, and what should it be possible to easily integrate later? Important components in IT infrastructure might include:
- Communication services such as email, calendar, video conferencing, messaging and social media services;
- A platform for sharing and editing documents (file sharing);
- Customer relationship or customer management software;
- An enterprise resource planning program (ERP), e.g. finance, human resources, and sales programs;
- A project management tool.
Cloud or No Cloud?
Once founders know which IT components they need, they then have to consider where and on which systems they should run these components. The main thing to think about is: should everything be in-house within the company itself, or externally in a data centre or on a cloud?
Setting up IT infrastructure without any help is only for start-ups whose founders have a background in IT or whose business model is focused on IT. For everyone else, it is advisable to rely on a cloud solution, especially at the beginning (according to the Cloud Monitor 2018, 66 percent of all companies do this, while just 13 percent don’t work with cloud services at all). They save time and effort and can be flexibly adapted to the requirements of your company. But not all clouds are the same. There are several options for so-called cloud computing:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): With this model, the cloud providers provide their customers with data centre infrastructure. This includes servers, computing and network capacities, operating systems or storage, for example. Providers often also take care of system maintenance, data backup and critical management (in the event of cyber attacks, for example). Providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and IBM Softlayer. Providers such as Host Europe offer complete packages for SMEs with storage, SSL security, domain, email, a website construction kit and much more all from a single source.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): With this service, customers can access various service provider applications via the internet, such as email, customer relationship management (CRM), payroll, content management or enterprise resource planning (ERP).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): Here, providers offer an IT environment where users can develop and operate applications themselves. This solution is particularly interesting for developers who want to develop and offer programs all in one.
The advantages of a cloud solution are obvious: offers are flexible and there are usually subscription models that can be turned on and off according to a company’s needs. This is particularly important for start-ups because a lot of changes have to be made to the IT infrastructure as well during the initial “experimentation phase”. Binding yourself to classic data centres or long-term hosting contracts can quickly become a business killer.
The disadvantages of cloud solutions: the server and the data are located outside the company. The start-up is forced to hand over its own and third-party data. That’s why it’s particularly important to choose a cloud provider that handles data protection responsibly. There are big differences between providers here. This is especially important in the age of GDPR because it’s the cloud user who is responsible for ensuring that data is handled in accordance with the GDPR and who is reliant on the cloud provider cooperating responsibly.
The cloud user also has to include data processing in the cloud in his record of processing activities and carry out a risk analysis (as part of a so-called data protection impact assessment). The cloud user also concludes a data processing agreement with the cloud provider to ensure that the provider complies with the provisions of the GDPR. This speaks in favour of choosing a European provider because if clouds have their servers outside the EU, they may not be subject to the GDPR. Certificates that guarantee that a cloud provider is GDPR-compliant can help with the selection process.
Relying on IT Security
Once start-ups have found the best solution for their IT infrastructure, they need to keep an eye on IT security right from the get-go. A dangerous misconception is that cyber criminals target predominantly large companies and that start-ups are far less interesting to them. This is dangerous because hackers are beginning to focus more and more on SMEs specifically.
Security standards are very high and, according to experts, cloud services offer SMEs in particular a higher level of security than in-house solutions. However, just sitting back and leaving the issue of data security to cloud providers is not a good idea either. Because ultimately companies are responsible for the security of their data. And this is often where the real problem lies. That’s because young companies in particular often do not have an IT security concept or sufficient cloud management for regulating who has access to cloud services, for example. There is also often a lack of appropriate security precautions such as multi-factor authentication and adequate training for employees. Start-ups should therefore think carefully about their security concept and introduce security standards that all employees are aware of and comply with – regardless of whether they’re relying on a cloud or an in-house solution.
The Best Protection for Start-ups
No matter how much value a start-up places on IT security and how well it secures its data, nobody is safe from data loss or data theft by cyber criminals. If customer data is affected, this can quickly result in expensive claims for damages.
The First-Party Cyber and Data Risks Insurance (FPC) add-on to protect yourself in case you yourself suffer damages in connection with hacker attacks or other cybercrime.
Calculate your premium and get your professional indemnity insurance online in just a few steps here:
Who am I?
After a traineeship and a few years in corporate communications, I now work at exali as editor-in-chief of the online editorial department and am responsible for all content.
What do I enjoy?
Summer, travel, good food and football.
What do I dislike?
Travel by train, Brussels sprouts and slime.