Cloud Computing, also referred to as Software as-a-Service can be simply defined as services and applications that are hosted and accessed via the internet, rather than on an on-site server and hardware. This technology has been around for a while, but over the last year has been gaining more and more traction in the business community and is starting to emerge as an option for nonprofits as well.
Cloud computing allows users to remotely manage and store information, as well as access customized software and services from virtually any device with internet access. Nonprofit organizations could potentially use this technology to boost their storage capacity and create online backup and archiving of data and accounts. The benefit of this technology is that it will allow nonprofits to save money by reducing their need to purchase and maintain hardware and software instead using applications hosted on remote servers. Furthermore this affordable option provides you with:
- Software that is always up to date
- The ability to easily and quickly add users, functions and additional applications
- Better accessibility from remote locations
However you should be sure to look at the big picture, considering all of the pros and cons. While we support the technology and believe it to be a beneficial and cost-effective option for nonprofits, you should be aware of the possible downside. Some current applications do not have a way for you to remove all of your data once it is on their server. This means that if at a later date you wish to bring all data back in-house, you may not be able to do it easily. Further, many Cloud vendors charge a per user, per month fee with contracts starting as long as 3+ years. Make sure you measure what you’re getting vs. what your paying for over a period of time to ensure it is the best option for your organization.