By Sharon Florentine

The cloud is the perfect companion for startups. No, really. Guest blogger Sharon Florentine reveals the many reasons why startups should embrace cloud computing technology as there are for enterprises.

As Janakiram Mocherla, cloud-technology consultant, evangelist and author outlines, there are ten main reasons why startups should consider going to the cloud.

10. Self-Service – For startups, the ability to provision and de-provision resources all by yourself, without relying on a third party, is very powerful. Most cloud platforms include a dashboard or management console that you can use to acquire and launch resources as you need them. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a trusted cloud provider in your corner. Rackspace has devoted an entire solution set to supporting startups, and knowing you can turn to their expertise can be very reassuring.

9. No CAPEX – Captial Expenditures (CapEx) may be the biggest hurdle for budding entrepreneurs, especially if you only have enough in your budget to either hire great talent or invest in powerful hardware – but not both. The cloud offers you the ability to host your application without any upfront CapEx investment. So, you could use that extra cash to hire the best talent. Or, invest in ergonomic chairs for your entire team — or a foosball table for your office. It’s up to you!

Speaking of hosting, application and even infrastructure hosting is one of the main entry points for organizations moving into cloud computing. It’s a great opportunity to dip your toe in the water, so to speak, and get a feel for how applications will run, how support and services will respond and to increase efficiencies if your budget is tight.

8. Easy to Scale – As your business grows, you’ll need to acquire more servers, storage and databases to keep up with demand. With cloud technology, you can choose to scale up by adopting a different infrastructure configuration or scale out by adding more servers of similar configuration to your existing setup.

7. Automation – Automating backup, disaster recovery, security and management is very simple in the Cloud; applications deployed on Cloud can become intelligent and self-healing. By detecting faults, they can automatically launch healthy instances through supported APIs.

6. Elasticity – Scale up, down, out and in as you need it. You can also automate your resource allocation based on the factors like CPU usage, Disk I/O and Network I/O so that additional servers can be launched to distribute the load and help you handle any unexpected demands.

5. Pay-as-you-go – You only pay for what you use. This means no upfront commitment and paperwork that could lock you into a relationship with one particular vendor that may not meet your needs as you grow.

4. Continuous Integration – Continuous Integration (CI) is the process of applying smaller code changes more frequently, and is much simpler and faster when done in the Cloud. Continuous integration aims to improve software quality while reducing the time taken to deliver it, making software development more agile. With the cloud, it’s easy to push changes to the code managed via a version control system like git or SVN.

3. Free Resources – Most of the mature Cloud providers offer various programs to encourage startups to adopt their platform. Rackspace, for example, has a program that offers cloud hosting and coaching to startups.

2. Choice – With the increased competition in the infrastructure market, startups have a variety of cloud offerings to choose from. There are mature PaaS offerings like Windows Azure, Heroku, Engine Yard and Google App Engine and proven IaaS providers like Rackspace, AWS, and GoGrid. You also have your choice of operating systems, application platforms, frameworks and languages. Many providers are now enabling applications written in .NET, Java, Ruby, Python and Node.js, and offer databases from MySQL, MS SQL Server, PostgreSQL and popular NoSQL databases on demand.

1. Focus on your offering – Of course, the biggest advantage that you as a startup get is the ability to spend more time on your core business and less time and money worrying about how you’ll make it work. The cloud lets you stay focused on your business instead of on power, cooling, bandwidth and the maintenance of the infrastructure. Instead, you can work to add more value for your customers.

There’s really no reason for startups not to reap the benefits of cloud computing technology. After all, you want your business to run as efficiently and effectively as possible, and if the cloud can help you achieve those goals faster, what are you waiting for?

Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from data center technology to holistic veterinary care and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.