2021 Guide to IT Infrastructure for Your Small Business
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Have you been wondering how to set up IT infrastructure for your small business? If so, this guide is for you!
Keep reading to learn more about IT infrastructure requirements, components to consider, and how to get started.
On-Premises vs. Cloud Infrastructure
Let's start by discussing the differences between on-premises and cloud infrastructure.
On-premises infrastructure is just what it sounds like – hosting servers, networking hardware, storage volumes, and other necessary equipment within your company facilities or leased space in a third-party data centre. This type of setup requires you to have ample physical space to support the infrastructure, including ventilation, cooling, security, and appropriate electrical wiring.
Although hardware has gotten significantly smaller over the years, you still need to think about storing it in a dedicated space. Similarly, you will also be responsible for sourcing the equipment, paying for it, and maintaining it on your own.
In contrast, cloud infrastructure refers to moving your data and applications to a cloud environment instead. In the cloud, you have access to pay-as-you-go pricing, near-instant scaling on-demand, and the ability to go global in seconds with the cloud provider's network of data centres and edge locations. Moving your workloads to the cloud comes with entirely different considerations from what you would typically think about when planning an on-premises deployment. For example, you can focus on the per-second, per-minute, per-hour costs of running your workloads rather than the capital costs of hardware. You think about how you will integrate your systems, design new apps or optimize legacy apps using cloud-native architectures, what type of computing capabilities you need, and how you will access the environment.
When you design your small company's IT infrastructure, choose a cost-effective, simple to maintain, and scalable solution. In other words, your startup IT infrastructure needs to be able to keep pace with your company as it grows and adapts, and there is no option better at meeting the needs of a growing company than the cloud.
Benefits of the Cloud
These days, IT infrastructure for startups and SMBs are built, at least in part, in the cloud. There are many benefits to choosing this option, including the fact that it is cheaper and more flexible.
Save Time and Money
Rather than purchasing servers and equipment upfront based on projections of technical requirements – which requires money and expertise – you can access a platform of tools that are provided directly on the cloud. This option offers a monthly operating expense rather than a significant upfront capital investment, so it can help you keep your costs more manageable and predictable.
Likewise, you only pay for what you need. Most cloud providers allow you to choose a service plan that caters to your unique business needs, and you can increase your capabilities and features down the road as your business grows.
Better Access to Data
Cloud computing allows you to access your data from anywhere. You are not reliant on storing everything on a single server or computer at the office, so you can access the documents and applications you need if you have an internet connection and the proper credentials.
This untethered access means that you can also facilitate remote work. Tools like Amazon WorkSpaces mean you don't have to worry about installing software on each device and company computer since your team can access all applications and files through the cloud environment.
Effective Backup and Disaster Recovery
Having an effective backup process in place is key to your startup's IT infrastructure. You never want to risk losing data or important files, so you need to have several contingencies in place.
Setting up your systems on the cloud helps alleviate some of this risk because even if your local hardware fails, you can still access your data in the cloud. Likewise, you can avoid other losses caused by natural disasters since a well-architected setup of cloud servers, data stores, and databases mean they won't be in only one physical location.
When disaster does strike, you can quickly spin up a new environment based on infrastructure-as-code and know your data is safe when stored in services like S3 and Aurora, which feature built-in redundancy.
Networking and VPNs
Small office IT infrastructure should include networking and VPN capabilities. VPN, which stands for virtual private network, is a secure connection between networks that protects and ensures your communication with the office and cloud networks is protected even when you or your employees use public WiFi.
These low-cost solutions are an essential component of your IT infrastructure since it keeps your data within an encrypted tunnel. That means that cybercriminals cannot intercept your online traffic or breach your systems.
Remote Work Tools
IT infrastructure for medium businesses must also address ways to streamline remote work, especially in 2021 and beyond. Let's review some ways to set up IT infrastructure for small businesses with AWS.
AWS, or Amazon Web Services, is one of the most popular IT services for small to medium-sized businesses. It is a cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service platform that offers customizable features and flexible payment options. That makes it ideal for companies that want infrastructure that is affordable and can scale.
It works by allowing you to access Amazon's global network of data centres, so you don't have to worry about buying or managing any hardware on your own. Likewise, their leading position in cloud technology is sure to give you a competitive advantage in your industry and enable you to leverage economies of scale to access advanced services for big data, machine learning, AI, quantum computing, blockchain, robotics, satellites, and more.
Amazon Chime and Amazon WorkSpaces
If you need a tool that lets you communicate inside and outside your company within one app, check out Amazon Chime.
With this tool as part of your infrastructure, you can easily set up video and audio calling features, screen sharing, and other valuable functions. It can support outbound and inbound calls so that you can maintain everything within a single system!
Amazon WorkSpaces is a desktop-as-a-service option enabling you to set up your employees' workstations centrally in the cloud, which they can access from anywhere.
The next item on our checklist for setting up a small office IT infrastructure is AWS's compute services. Opting for cloud solutions like EC2 and Lambda will make this simple and effective.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, is an excellent option for your IT infrastructure and computing needs. It makes web-scale cloud computing simple for developers and provides a secure capacity in the cloud. The interface is straightforward and gives you total control of your resources while taking advantage of Amazon's proven technology. With different service classes and billing models, EC2 has something for everyone, and you can get started in minutes.
Lambda is a function-as-a-service compute offering that allows you to run code without provisioning, maintaining, or paying for full servers. You can run almost all applications and backed services without any administration – all you need to do is upload the files! You pay only for the time it takes your function to run. It can integrate with other services such as SNS for notifications, SQS as a simple queue service, CloudFront CDN and others to enable you to deploy cheap to run serverless applications.
Storage solutions are another necessary consideration, and some top options are S3 and EFS.
S3, or Simple Storage Service, is another Amazon solution for small business IT infrastructure. It provides tools for managing data availability, performance, and security, so you have peace of mind that your information is protected. It has several storage classes enabling fast static website hosting to long-term cold storage and backup.
EFS stands for Amazon's Elastic File System. This simple storage volume solution allows you to share data between multiple EC2 instances or on-premises computers and is built to scale. You can use various storage classes to organize your data, and it even gives you a way to store it redundantly!
This guide only scratches the surface of what's available in AWS. Setting up the IT infrastructure for your small business isn't something you need to do on your own – Pilotcore is here to help! We are a registered AWS partner with decades of combined experience, so our team can help set up the ideal infrastructure for your business needs. Contact us today to learn more!