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Author: Raspberry Street Press

Raspberry St. – A Startup Without A Server Room

September, 2019

Whenever you start a digital business, IT infrastructure and computing power is always going to be a big expense. Eventually, your creation will need to escape the confines of its development environment – and start serving thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of customers around the world, if you’re successful.

So, how do you do that? Even just two decades ago, you only had one choice – purchase and build physical infrastructure to support your digital product, and use your own computing power to run your company. But today, there is another option – cloud computing.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between physical infrastructure and cloud-based infrastructure, and go over why Raspberry Pi has chosen to use the Azure cloud infrastructure – rather than our own, on-premises servers and resources. Let’s get into it now!

Your First Option – Physical, On-Premises Infrastructure

As mentioned, this used to be the only way to create a digital company. You’d have to purchase expensive servers, computing, and networking equipment, create your own IT infrastructure, and load your program or product onto it – then provide it to customers directly.

As you may be able to imagine, this is not an easy project – and it’s not cheap. Not only do you need to acquire all of the relevant products, but you also need to put together a robust, reliable, powerful server architecture that protects your data, and that of your customers.

How much disk space will you need? Will you build a RAID system for redundant storage? What kind of RAID will you use? What is the process for when a drive – or a server rack – fails? How will you restore your system to functionality? How fast will you grow? How much computing capacity will you need next year?

These are all questions you must answer before you deploy your own server architecture. You’ll also need a climate-controlled environment for your equipment, plenty of battery backups or generators, and plenty of cash to spend on maintenance, hiring IT professionals, paying for power usage, and more.

You may even need two internet connections to ensure redundancy in case one of your ISPs fails (hint: it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when) and you’ll also need to invest in firewalls, networking equipment, and more.

Okay, so you get the point. Building your own physical infrastructure is not easy, it’s not fast, and it’s definitely not cheap. So, what’s your other option?

The Other Option – Cloud Infrastructure

Yes, you’ve probably heard the term “cloud” so many times that you’ve already stopped reading this sentence. So we can say whatever we want here. You look nice today. Is that a new perfume you’re wearing? Great weather we’re having, isn’t it?

Okay, are you back with us? The truth is that “The Cloud” is much more than a buzzword to be tossed around. It’s the future of computing – and 58% of all companies are now using at least a “hybrid” cloud strategy, integrating both cloud infrastructure and on-premises servers.

Essentially, what cloud infrastructure providers – like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft – allow you to do is rent their own, pre-built server architecture. Based on how much computing power, storage, and data throughput you need, you can just “subscribe” to a cloud server, which allows you to access all of that power – without ever purchasing a piece of physical equipment.

This eliminates the need to purchase hardware, and allows you to get enormous computing power for a low cost, at just the click of a button. And because the cloud is “scalable” – you pay for the computing power you use, and can add more at any time for an additional fee – it’s a great option for growing companies… like Raspberry St!

What Cloud Provider Does Raspberry St. Use?

Unfortunately, our server room at Raspberry St. is not filled with row upon row of Raspberry Pis. In fact, we don’t have a server room – because we use Microsoft Azure!

Microsoft Azure, along with the Google Platform and Amazon Web Services (AWS) comprises part of the “Big Three” cloud providers. We chose Azure because of its flexibility, a great pricing model, and the ability to quickly provision and launch new servers.

All of our services, from our retail website to our bi-directional IoT device communication platform runs in Azure – using virtual servers, hosted on top-quality infrastructure by Microsoft.

This allows our designers and developers to do what they do best – create a high-quality digital product – without worrying about purchasing and setting up hardware. We’ve chosen cloud hosting because it allows us to focus on the bigger picture, rather than get bogged down in the day-to-day costs and operational complexities of using physical servers.

Why Does It Matter If We Use The Cloud Or Physical Servers, Anyway?

Okay, so now we’ve discussed the differences between cloud and physical servers – and told you all about how we use Microsoft Azure. Great! Now, why should you care? Does it really matter to end users?

Actually, it does! We chose Microsoft Azure partly because we felt that our users will have a better experience using our products if we used a cloud-based computing service. Why? Here are just 4 reasons.

  • Cost – Purchasing even a single enterprise-grade server can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Compared to this, the cost of cloud hosting is much lower – and because we can scale up our capacity as our company grows, we’ll never be overpaying for computing resources we don't need. This means we pay less – and so do you, because we pass these savings along to our customers.
  • Scalability – If our servers start to get overloaded because of our incredible success, (fingers crossed, right?) we won’t have to run around with our hair on fire, provisioning new physical servers to reduce our computing load. We’ll just get on the horn with our Azure representative, add more resources at the click of a button and immediately resolve the issue. This means better reliability for our services – and no slowdowns due to excessive traffic.
  • RedundancyAzure has hundreds of data centers. Each one is highly redundant,, with powerful internet connections, on-site generators and battery backups, spare server racks, and more. You can take a tour of one online now – and see just how powerful these enormous data centers are.
    Suffice to say, the level of performance and redundancy offered by Microsoft Azure could never be matched by a scrappy little startup like Raspberry St. – which is why we’ve turned to them for cloud hosting!
  • Security – Azure data centers are extremely secure, with high levels of physical security and cyber security to prevent data loss, hacks, and other such issues. Sure, the Raspberry St. office is pretty well-guarded – but hey, it’s not exactly Fort Knox – so we think that your data is safer with Microsoft.

For all of these reasons – and plenty of others – we think that Azure is a great choice for us, and that cloud computing offers the best experience to our customers. Don’t believe us? Give our products a try now – and we’re sure you’ll come around.

Try Raspberry St. For Yourself – And See What Makes Us Different!

Our goal has always been to provide our customers with a powerful, flexible and versatile IoT solution, using the Raspberry Pi. Using Microsoft Azure and cloud infrastructure has allowed us to achieve that goal. So don’t just take our word for it. See the power of the cloud for yourself – give Raspberry St. a shot today!

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