Harnessing Third Party Services in Tech Startups

During my tenure as an Industrial Internship Program student I learned many valuable skills and practices as an employee with Mover, a cloud storage related technology start-up based in Edmonton. Perhaps the most perceptible lesson I took away from my employment in the startup industry pertains specifically to leveraging other cloud based software services and solutions to help meet the rapidly increasing and scalable needs of a company that needs to grow as quickly as possible. CircleCi, Amazon EC2, Heroku, UserVoice, and PagerDuty are just a few examples of services that are essential to the operation, analysis, and development of the technology for migrating data between cloud services that Mover provides.

As a startup in any sector, it is important to be as effective as possible with the distribution and expenditure of your internal resources. During my time with Mover, one of the major processes through which we accomplished this was to integrate paid services to support our core technology wherever possible. There are a number of different reasons why we elected to take this route instead of building our own in-house solutions.

To begin with, it is often much cheaper to leverage even seemingly expensive outside technology than spending development resources on it. As a rule of thumb, there is a large correlation between the level of difficulty in creating a service and the price tag attached to licensing or purchasing it. The cost associated with the time it would take to design, implement, deploy, and support these features or tools can often be an order of magnitude greater than simply purchasing the tool or service in the first place. More importantly, you are not only purchasing an easy to implement solution, but also the expertise of its creators. Similar to how Mover has become experts in moving data in the cloud as a result of the time we have spent working with and optimizing our own technology, it makes sense that the same argument applies to other services that you would harness and benefit greatly from.

Another often overlooked benefit is the actual customer support that comes with purchasing or licensing these tools. When an unexpected problem occurs, it is much easier to offload your issues onto the company who created the service, who are again experts at what they do, then to deal with problem yourself. More often than not, these companies are extremely helpful and eager to solve your issues as they are themselves smaller companies who are trying to build their own customer base and reputation.

Cost and convenience aside, the most important reason for integrating and integrating outside tools wherever possible, is that allows you to spend less time working on problems that have already been solved, and more time building your core product. As a startup, you need to move as fast as possible. Any time that is not spent working on your core service has a compounding cost down the line and can become the difference between success and failure in the industry.

It’s nearly impossible to say how much time Mover continually saves with the services we have integrated. But what is extremely clear is just how vital the inclusion of many of these services has been in our technology stack, and will continue to be in enabling Mover to grow rapidly. As a result, I believe this is one of the most important philosophies I have learned and will continue to lean upon in my future as a software developer.

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