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The Role of IT in Startups

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symbol Role Of IT In Startups with Alfonso Pettis

December 10th 2010

The Experts Corner is tailored to highlight the experts in their corresponding fields and their practical advice for entrepreneurs on their journeys. Each newsletter will feature one expert and they will get to share their insight with the community.

This weeks expert in question is Alfonso Pettis, President, TechZel, Inc. IT Consulting Inc. You can get more acquainted with Alfonso by viewing his profile on Linkedin

Newest episode: "Community Fund" with Pejman Dashtinejad, Grow VC.


Whats is the role IT plays in a startup business scenario?


IT plays a major role in a startup business, such as being able to stay agile and competitive at the same time. There are various considerations a startup needs to take when starting a business. A startup would need to consider if it is planning on staying small, medium or large. The reasoning behind this is that as an organization is growing either organically or through acquisitions scalability won’t be much of a constraint. If the startup is planning on remaining small and local, then the principal(s) would not want to spend too much time and resources on planning and making expenses in acquiring hardware/software, but of course would want to have sufficient and adequate hardware/software to be and remain competitive, and have efficient and effective processes in place.

An organization would benefit from looking at their IT infrastructure from both a short-term and long-term perspective much like business planning. However, the IT planning should not be rigid, but be flexible to accommodate changes/updates with little to no interruption to the initial IT infrastructure. One of the first things a business can undertake is a network design which depicts a high-level overview of the IT infrastructure will initially look like, and a long-term overview of the IT infrastructure.

The network design is comprised of the following (PPDIOO):

Prepare– A meeting with management and a network designer/engineer to gather business requirements

Plan – Organize business & IT requirements and align them together

Design– Develop a high-level network design of the IT infrastructure

Implement– Startup implements the IT infrastructure

Operate–Startup goes live & starts to operate the IT infrastructure

Optimize– Make changes/improvements based on base-line analysis & network performance

By performing the above it assists a startup organization with aligning the business requirements with technical requirements, while taking growth and scalability into account. Acquiring hardware (computing and networking) that can be upgraded by addition additional modules is preferable, as this will minimize the costs associated with replacing the majority of the computing and networking equipment in the future as new technology is being introduced, and old being decommissioned.

A startup does not want to purchase more hardware/software and put together an IT infrastructure that is going to be a constraint on its initial budget. An organization also needs to decide whether it is going to have dedicated hardware or employ virtualization. Virtualization does have it benefits, such as running multiple operating systems and applications on one server; also by taking advantage of virtualization an organization can save in energy consumption, and administration costs. However, virtualization can have its drawbacks if it is not implemented and managed correctly; it can be complex to pinpoint problems when they arise; also, virtualization can be a disadvantage: single-point of failure if redundancy/failback/clustering is not setup property.


What other technologies should startups take into account?



Other technologies a startup should take into account are:

• Email system

• Remote access/wireless access

• Data storage/date recovery/security

• Software licensing and tracking

• Software/anti-virus/spyware updates&patches

A startup would need to evaluate an email system that runs on a server based system which the organization is planning on implementing, and that can be scaled based on the plan of the organization. The startup may not have immediate requirements to offer remote and/or wireless access, but if there are plans to grow the business, it would be a good idea to incorporate this into the long-term IT infrastructure design. How data/information is going to be stored/accessed/recovered is a major concern for any business whether it be startup, small, medium, or large; knowing how data is going to be stored/accessed/recovered ahead of time can alleviate and/or reduce downtime in case of a system crash, and also a startup wants to have procedures and policies in place as to who can access what data/information. Licensing software and tracking it are essential as well, because an organization wants to stay compliant and not run afoul licensing and piracy issues and laws. By having operating systems, and anti-virus/spyware updated with the latest updates and patches, computer systems can not only run more efficiently, but also reduce system vulnerabilities, such as security holes and new virus/spyware from being introduced and infecting computer systems and possibly even propagating throughout the network.


IT plays a significant role in a startup; whether a startup is home based, small, medium, or large. Being able to align the business requirements with IT infrastructure are essential and require skilled IT professionals that have both technical, business, consulting skills. A combination of these skills are required because such an individual should be able to communicate with people at various levels of an organization on take into account high-level and details of what is required to take the network design from concept –to- implementation –to- operation/optimization.

Thank you Alfonso!

Stay tuned for the next Experts Corner in two weeks with a new expert and topic!

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