Leo Polovets of Susa Ventures publishes an excellent blog called Coding VC. There you can find some excellent posts, such as pitches by analogy, and an algorithm for seed round valuations and analyzing product hunt data.
He recently wrote a blog post about a topic near and dear to my heart, Which Technologies do Startups Use. It’s worth a look.
One thing to keep in mind looking over the data, is that these are AngelList startups. So that’s not a cross section of all startups, nor does it cover more mature companies either.
In my experience startups can get it right by starting fresh, evaluating the spectrum of new technologies out there, balancing sheer solution power with a bit of prudence and long term thinking.
I like to ask these questions:
o Which technologies are fast & high performance?
o Which technologies have a big, vibrant & robust community?
o Which technologies can I find plenty of engineers to support?
o Which technologies have low operational overhead?
o Which technologies have low development overhead?
1. Database: MySQL
MySQL holds a slight lead according to the AngelList data. In my experience its not overly complex to setup and there are some experienced DBAs out there. That said database expertise can still be hard to find .
We hear a lot about MongoDB these days, and it is surely growing in popularity. Although it doesn’t support joins and arbitrary slicing and dicing of data, it is a very powerful database engine. If your application needs more straightforward data access, it can bring you amazing speed improvements.
Postgres is a close third. It’s a very sophisticated database engine. Although it may have a smaller community than MySQL, overall it’s a more full featured database. I’d have no reservations recommending it.
Also: Top MySQL DBA Interview questions
2. Hosting: Amazon
Amazon Web Services is obviously the giant in the room. They’re big, they’re cheap, they’re nimble. You have a lot of options for server types, they’ve fixed many of the problems around disk I/O and so forth. Although you may still experience latency around multi-tenant related problems, you’ll benefit from a truly global reach, and huge cost savings from the volume of customers they support.
Heroku is included although they’re a different type of service. In some sense their offering is one part operations team & one part automation. Yes ultimately you are getting hosting & virtualization, but some things are tied down. Amazon RDS provides some parallels here. I wrote Is Amazon RDS hard to manage?. Long term you’re likely going to switch to an AWS, Joyent or Rackspace for real scale.
I was surprised to see Azure on the list at all here, as I rarely see startups build on microsoft technologies. It may work for the desktop & office, but it’s not the right choice for the datacenter.
Read: Are generalists better at scaling the web?
In my experience I see a lot of PHP & of course Ruby too. Java although there is a lot out there, can tend to be a bear as a web dev language, and provide some additional complication, weight and overhead.
Related: Is Hunter Walk right about operations & startups?
4. Search: Elastic Search
I like that they broke apart search technology as a separate category. It is a key component of most web applications, and I do see a lot of Elastic Search & Solr.
That said I think this may be a bit skewed. I think by far the number one solution would be NO SPECIFIC SEARCH technology. That’s right, many times devs choose a database centric approach, like FULLTEXT or others that perform painfully bad.
If this is you, consider these search solutions. They will bring you huge performance gains.
Check this: Are SQL Databases Dead?
5. Automation: Chef
As with search above, I’d argue there is a far more prevalent trend, that is #1 to use none of these automation technologies.
Although I do think chef, docker & puppet can bring you real benefits, it’s a matter of having them in the right hands. Do you have an operations team that is comfortable with using them? When they leave in a years time, will your new devops also know the technology you’re using? Can you find a good balance between automation & manual configuration, and document accordingly?
Read: Why are database & operations experts so hard to find?