Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How to create online infrastructure for your startup or existing business

free Google tools

In the next series of articles I plan to explain how you can create your own online infrastructure by using set of free Google tools.

If you want to begin your own startup, or just bring online your already existing offline business, in any case, this information will be useful to you. What exactly do I mean by online infrastructure of your startup or business?

By online infrastructure I mainly mean next four elements:
  • Your main site (for example: www.some-company-name.com) – there you can place any static information relevant to your startup or offline business: greeting to your customers, description of your services or products, terms of use, your contact information, etc.
  • Your blog (for example blog.some-company-name.com) – there you will be able regularly post news or articles, informing your audience and customers, and attracting additional attention to your startup or existing business.
  • Your own web application or service (such as Twitter, or Pinterest are, or any other less known) – it could be the heart of your startup or just additional useful service to your customers, it's up to you. You could make it by yourself or outsource to somebody.
  • Your email address at your own domain (for example: some_name@some-company-name.com, or anything like this). Such email looks more solid than just some_name@gmail.com and you can place at your business card or on any other advertising materials.
So, you can have all of these four elements, or just some combination of them, according to your taste.
All these things will be useful to you, even if you just want to get a web representation for your offline business. For example, even a small bakery, or shoe store, or family hotel, or a local beauty salon, everyone will need at least some parts of these online infrastructure.

I have to mention that you can get it all for free; the only thing for which you will have to pay is a registration of your own domain name, if you do not already have it. Besides that, you can implement most parts of such infrastructure without any special knowledge or skills. You will get all instructions required to achieve this, just from this series of articles.

But if you really want to get your own web application (not just the site or the blog) you will need to program it, or alternatively, if you get cool idea for your web application but don’t want to implement it by yourself, you can outsource its implementation to somebody else.

And once again, if you just want to have your own blog (similar to this, for example) or just a site, you do not have to program at all. In the next articles we will go right to these to aims:
  • Create your own site on your own domain (by using Google Apps Sites)
  • Create your own blog on your own domain (by using Blogger)
In addition you will get a Gmail email address on your own domain name. (Similar to this: some_name@some-company-name.com, or anything like this)

One thing that you need to have before you start is the any existing Google account, most likely you already have one, but if not yet, you can get it by following simple instructions here. https://accounts.google.com/NewAccount

If you are ready please follow the next instructions, we will begin from Google App Engine (this step is mandatory to be able to create FREE Google Apps account next)
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1. Sign in to Google App Engine

Start by open this URL https://appengine.google.com

If you are not yet logged in to your Google account you will see next screen:
Google App Engine: Sign In
Please Sign in into your Google account using your Email and Password, or if you still don’t have it. Please Sign Up by clicking on red button in the upper left cone.

In case you are already Signed In, you will see next screen:
Google App Engine: Create Application
Click Create Application button.

2. Verify your account 

Next you will have to Verify your account (sometimes this step omitted by Google, but if it does exist, you has to proceed).
Google App Engine: Verify account


You have to enter your Phone number and click the button. Next, Google will send a text message containing a verification code to your mobile phone or will make an automated voice call to your phone with a verification code, according to option you choose.

On next screen you will have to enter the Verification code and press Verify button.
Google App Engine: Verify account

3. Create an Application

After successful account verification you will be finally transited to the Create an Application screen.
Google App Engine: Create Application

On this screen you have to:

  1. Enter your Application Identifier and Check its Availability – you haven’t be too puzzled, just use something meaningful for you, we will map this application to your own domain soon, so this identifier will be used only by you internally.
  2. Enter Application Title – you will be able to change this title at any moment later.
  3. Select Authentication Options – I recommend to use third option by some reasons, but again, you will be able to change it at any moment later.
  4. Read Terms of Service and check I accept these terms checkbox.
  5. And finally click Create Application button.
If everything OK you will see next screen with Application Registered Successfully message and some useful links.
Google App Engine: Create Application

Please click link to dashboard and you will be moved to the Dashboard of your newly created App Engine Application. 

4. Accessing Admin panel of Application

In the future, in order to open your application Dashboard again, you have to open this URL https://appengine.google.com.
Google App Engine: Admin Panel

You will see My Applications list, click link to your newly created application to open its Dashboard.
Also you can create another application on this screen (you limited by 10 in total).

5. Configure application settings: Domain Setup

As you can see there are many features and settings, but for now we just have to go to the Domain setup option.
Google App Engine: Domain Setup

Click Application settings link in the left panel, scroll down until Domain Setup part, and click Add Domain button.
Google App Engine: Domain Setup
After that you will be moved to the Add Domain dialog: 
Google App Engine: Domain Setup
On this screen you can see the Sign up for Google Apps… link. This link is unique in some sense, because it allows you to get Google Apps for FREE.

Here we have to stop for now; we will continue right from this point in the next article.

What's Next

For now you should know what online infrastructure is, and what particular elements of it you want or need to have for your own business or startup. We started by creating Google App Engine application, it is required step in any way in order to be able to create FREE Google Apps account at the next step. Of course, if you are ready for paid Google Apps for Business (www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business/) you can omit App Engine application creation and move on right to the next articles.

Now we actually put aside for a while the newly created Google App Engine application but will return to it in one of the following articles, just after we will create a Site and a Blog. 

In the next article we will create Google Apps account and will map it to your own domain name. So, to the end of the next article you will already get one of the mentioned elements of online infrastructure: your own branded email address and will be ready to get even more.