By RICH LEE, special to LTW

Editor’s note: Rich Lee is founder and chief executive officer of Raleigh-based infrastructure services provider

RALEIGH, N.C. – I sat on a panel at the Local Tech Wire Executive Exchange event for Entrepreneurs in the Triangle area last month. We had a good crowd and talking with many local entrepreneurs, it was great to see that the level of energy and excitement in the room.

Having been in their shoes myself, I know that starting a new business takes a lot of time, hard work and resources. Those resources are often scarce in the nascent stages of business development. Not only do you wrestle with capital constraints, but you’re also challenged to find the right people: who’s going to drive the bus? For that matter, who’ll ride it or even direct traffic? This is all dependent on your business needs, which frankly can change from day to day or even hour to hour.

That being said, I’m not sure I’ve seen a better climate in the last few years for entrepreneurs in the Triangle.

The newly launched at American Tobacco is an exciting hub for entrepreneurs, housing gaming and technology accelerators Joystick Labs and Launchbox Digital, as well as a decades-long stalwart on the Triangle startup scene: CED, ().

American Underground will inspire and foster innovation throughout the region. But you need more than a good idea – you need to take that idea and turn it into a profitable business. Thanks to developments like cloud computing, it’s never been easier or more cost effective to get a new business off the ground than it is right now.

Once you’ve figured out what product or service you’re going to offer, there’s nothing more critical to your business success than having the right IT infrastructure in place. Historically, that infrastructure would cost thousands, even millions of dollars to install, which meant raising money from VCs and angel investors who take precious equity in your business. Cloud computing is game changing for entrepreneurs.

Instead of investing in expensive hardware, the “as a service” model delivers substantially reduced up-front capital investment and limited ongoing expenses associated with acquiring, maintaining and operating IT infrastructure.

Cloud computing is massively scalable, endlessly flexible and can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of hard infrastructure. But use caution—not every cloud option will work for every business. That’s why our Stratus Trusted Cloud offers various options including public cloud, hybrid cloud and private cloud.

If you’re an entrepreneur, talk to your provider about the various options available. If you have strict regulatory requirements, for instance, a private cloud is probably the best option. If you’re looking for massive scalability, the public option may be the best fit. If you have applications that cannot run in the cloud, but you want to leverage the cloud for web front-end computing power and other resources like network, firewall, load balancing and web servers, the hybrid option is likely the best choice.

At the end of day, there’s a cloud option that will fit most businesses. My advice to entrepreneurs out there – take advantage of this opportunity.

Cloud allows you to keep your cost down, protect your equity, operate in a more nimble fashion and most importantly, stay focused on growing the business – not the technology behind it. Because as an entrepreneur, gaining the beachhead you need to survive requires the utmost flexibility, as well as the courage to make the right decision, even as you’re driving the bus at full speed.

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