Starting up in the cloud

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Participants-to-Nokia,-Globe-Labs-Asha20130826

Participants to Nokia, Globe Labs Asha Developer Day are given a briefing on the suite of tools for the Nokia Asha platform

When I attended the Amazon Web Services (AWS) summit in Singapore a couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to many enterprise companies in the ASEAN region that have been using cloud services to run their business. In particular, a lot of these entities are currently using cloud service provided by AWS.

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It was interesting to note that in the Philippines, a country where businesses are mostly small- and medium-sized, many are already in the cloud. Getting a software service from the cloud is not only essential but economically practical, as most SMEs donít even have a dedicated IT department.

Believe me, running an entire department solely for IT is expensive. Itís not only about getting your company connected to the Internet, but also managing all those computer servers, high-priced enterprise-class software, adding data storage as the company grow, thinking about the cooling systems, and even the place to hold all those equipment. Oh, did I mention about electricity cost to power all that? What about the people to operate the machines. Yes, you can hire them. The question is, can you afford to pay their asking salaries? The last part may be crucial, since you’re just starting business.

When it comes to startups, one perfect example is Kalibrr, a Philippine-based company that has been using AWS Cloud services to build their free online software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for recruiting, assessing, and training qualified employees for the BPO sector.

“What Kalibrr does is we moved the application and assessment process online and it’s done either at home, or in an Internet café, such as that the BPO companies only have to spend time on people who are most qualified,” said Dexter Ligot-Gordon, chief operating officer at Kalibrr, in a roundtable interview at sidelines of the AWS summit. “This is how we help them [BPOs] achieve scale.”

Kalibrr has been running its entire business and services using the AWS datacenter in Singapore, the same datacenter catering to other countries in the region. In fact, it was a good move for AWS to build a datacenter in the island-city state, since earlier on the main AWS platform was delivered to Asia from datacenters in the US and Europe. Regional customers are now able to run their cloud computing infrastructure when AWS started hosting services in a data center in Singapore in 2010.

“Now, without cloud infrastructure, none of this will be possible,” said Danny Castonguay, chief technology officer at Kalibrr. “So, being able to deploy and to build all of that [SaaS] in the cloud is critical for our business model, itís something that wasnít possible ten years ago.”

“We picked AWS because they are the biggest, they’re very cheap, price is key and theyíre also developer-centric in their approach,” Castonguay added. “Everything that they do, they do it because they know that there is a very specific service that people need and they donít built any more than that.”

Kalibrr eventually evolved to provide more business-to-business online training service that is “white labeled” to multi-national enterprises for large-scale internal training. And they can certainly thank cloud computing and the infrastructure that AWS provided the company.

“So, for us the point of entry was just having elastic cloud computing, and that was what we use for awhile, Castonguay said. “Basically we just deploy a virtual machine online, if we need to scale up to five we scale up to five and if we just need three, we scale down to three. We’re currently using 20 or so.”

Among other cloud computing products, AWS offers services that include Elastic Compute Cloud or E2, delivering scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud, and Simple Storage Service or S3 provides a fully redundant data storage infrastructure for storing and retrieving any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere.

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