The Difference Between On-Site Software and the Cloud
Cloud computing has taken the world by storm in the last decade, and more recently many nonprofit organizations have become interested in learning more about this newer technology. For those that might not be familiar with the term, cloud computing is essentially software, applications, and data storage that is hosted off-site, rather than on-site. However it isn’t actually in ‘the cloud’, rather they are housed in large warehouses called cloud farms. A cloud farm is essentially a warehouse with hundreds of containers, hosting thousands of servers. So, rather than installing, hosting, and maintaining software and servers on site where they can only be accessed on site, your software, files, and data is held in an offsite location where it can be accessed from anywhere.
What about Security?
One of the first questions we hear from nonprofit clients at RBP Methods is whether the cloud is secure. While there isn’t necessarily a one size fits all answer to this question, many cloud developers have taken much more significant security measures than nonprofits (and businesses, for that matter) are able to do in house. However, should you consider moving to a cloud based platform, be sure to ask providers about encryption, fire walls, and physical security at the warehouse location. Keep in mind, that the viability of the cloud hosting company relies on whether they can offer the kinds of security needed in today’s high-tech world. To this end, many of them take great strides to install and offer the best security tools available.
Cloud Benefits for Nonprofits
Let’s face it. Nonprofit organizations are always trying to squeeze as much as they can from every donation dollar or grant award. You need to find ways to streamline overhead costs – while also enabling staff members and volunteers to be as efficient as possible. You can achieve this and more in the cloud. Consider the following:
1. Low Start Up Costs and Ongoing Money Savings
Where purchasing, installing, maintaining and upgrading software on-site can be an unrealistic option for many nonprofits, accessing the very same software in the cloud can be quite affordable. Even better, with all data hosted off site, and access to the software’s help desk and support – you no longer need to front the overhead relating to an internal IT department, or external IT consultants. And, to top it off – with many cloud based software applications, software upgrades and security are included and are taken care of without any extra effort necessary from your end.
Not only does the cloud enable you and your staff members to securely access data from desktops, laptops, iPhones, tablets, and more; but it also makes it easier to share files and documents with other staff members and collaborate between two parties who may be operating some distance apart. This is extremely beneficial for nonprofits as many have staff members and volunteers working remotely at any given time.
3. Increased Control
With increased accessibility, many clients are concerned about data leaks. However, many applications allow you to better control who can see and access different levels of data based on management preferences, than some in house software applications.
Many nonprofit organizations see significant fluctuations in the number of staff members and volunteers throughout certain periods of time. One nice thing about the cloud is that many cloud developers allow you to change your number of users and storage limit as needed.
5. Automatic Disaster Recovery
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the cloud is that having your data housed off site protects you in the event of fire, flood, or other local event. Not only are all of your important files housed in an off-site location, they are automatically backed up on a routine basis as well, ensuring that you will continue to have your records intact.
If your organization is interested in lowering technology costs, improving internal efficiencies, and gaining easier remote access to your data and information – please, contact us today. We would be happy to discuss your specific requirements and whether a cloud based software application may be right for your organization.