Choosing A Development Platform For Your Startup

Are you a Linux guy or Windows? Java, .Net, or LAMP? Or are you a Ruby gal?

These questions dominate the early discussions in a startup's technology. Yes, this is a very important question because once you start investing in a development platform it becomes costly and complex to switch or even upgrade. So for a startup, choosing the development technologies is pretty much a permanent decision unless or until the startup matures and needs to or can afford to do major technology upgrades.

Some (very) basics on platform choice:

1) When the Business Entrepreneur or VC selects its first technologist, they are pretty much selecting the Startup's technology platform. For the most part, technologists will choose platforms based on their expertise.

2) The Startup CTO should give some thought on technology platforms for the simple reason that technologies that they have expertise in may not be what's best for the business.

3) Picking the wrong technologies can inhibit growth. Startups that choose to be early adopters of a technology platform (including frameworks, libraries, etc.) may lose critical development cycles dealing with 'beta' issues. Picking outdated approaches may inhibit the Startup's ability to release competitive features.

4) Startups need to keep thinks simple (KISS). Too much technology can slow you down.

Most *unbiased* technologists today will tell you that most web based applications can easily be developed in any of the platforms I listed. Under certain circumstances, some of these platforms will have inherit advantages. Open source platforms tend to have lower startup licensing and hosting costs. Web applications that need to integrate with native Windows systems/applications are probably better built in .Net. Some will argue that developers can produce applications faster using LAMP (PHP, PERL, or Python) or with Ruby. Object Oriented purists that want to be 'vendor neutral' opt for JAVA. These are complete generalizations and I can point to many examples that counter them.

So how important is the development platform then?

My simple answer is - it is very important - but not from a pure language dialect, performance, or ease of development perspective. Talk to an expert in a platform and they will have an arsenal of reasons why their language of choice is superior and how to avoid or circumvent any deficiencies.

On the other hand, the choice of development platform is very important in terms of the overall product development process and operational management of the company. I will elaborate in an upcoming post.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree. From my past experience I saw that for a commercial product, your choice of technology sets the market, or at very least has a huge influence over the sales. For an ASP, it constraints how you will grow, and who you can hire to work on the system. It has a huge influence over process and culture within the company. All lovely subjective things that are very had to explain.

    Paul.

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