The Benefits of the Cloud

Holly Ross, Executive Director of NTEN, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting technology use by nonprofit organizations recently made a presentation at an event hosted by Google, Facebook, and the Foundation. The presentation focused on using the cloud for nonprofit technology needs. While the cloud poses interesting prospects for us, it is the near future of computing as computer memory continues to get cheaper and more memory can be stored in smaller spaces.

This leads me to ask are you currently using the cloud, and if so how?

Please view the presentation here:



Filed under blog, Education and Training, Marketing and Awareness, Tools

2 responses to “The Benefits of the Cloud

  1. Steve McDonell

    We started using “the cloud” about five or six years ago. It may even be longer than that. We have been using this concept so long, that we predate the term. Wikipedia defines it pretty well:

    Our first foray into “cloud computing” began when our old e-mail solution was no longer meeting our needs. We had an internal e-mail package for our main location. It only handled “internal” e-mail for that location and did not handle internet-based e-mail. We used a different program for Internet mail. Our remote sites did not have any e-mail at all at that time. We needed an e-mail solution for 40 plus locations that combined internal and internet e-mail.

    One of our other requirements was, of course, doing this at the lowest possible cost and making it work. So we called a few computer consultants in and they gave us the then standard solution of connecting all our sites to our main office location and using MS Exchange server. Our initial quotes from the computer consultants were astronomical. Their quotes did not even include the cost for setting up some type of access to the Exchange server at our main office.

    Rather than sinking money and support time into hardware (server) and software (licenses) and creating virtual private networks, we looked for a turnkey solution that was easy to implement and maintain. At that time, nearly all of our sites already had Internet access so that meant something internet-based. We were thinking something similar to Yahoo mail, but for businesses, would do the trick. We did some research and viola, we found a few companies that were actually doing this.

    In addition, their pricing was more than reasonable. On average, we could purchase their e-mail services for 8-10 years for the same price that our counsultants quoted to install a traditional Exchange server. It was easy to setup, easy to maintain and easy to use. We did have problems with our first vendor and had to change within 18 months, but the change was really simple: the new vendor set everything up and then we called our internet provider and changed the setting on how our e-mail is directed through the Internet to reach the new e-mail server.

    We do not have to update the computers that use the system. We do not have to apply patches on the server. We do not have to pay maintenance costs on the server hardware. We do not have to worry about virus scanning on our e-mail. People can access it from anywhere with an Internet connection. We get enhancements to the system automatically. If you get a better offer from another vendor, you can move to that vendor easily. Better yet, if you like your current vendor, you can use the leverage of another vendor’s lower pricing, to get better pricing with your current vendor. “Cloud computing” permits smaller organizations to use infrastructure built by companies that build infrastructure without paying for it.

    We have been moving other applications to “the cloud” as needed or when possible. We never hosted our own web site. It has been in “the cloud” since we developed it nine years ago. We have moved our web site content development and management to “the cloud” when we redeveloped it a few years ago. Our file server backups for multiple locations are in “the cloud.” Video conferencing? “The Cloud.” Case management/service billing is in process of moving to “the cloud.” Donor management, payroll/HR, other server-based applications and our complete file server content will eventually be in “the cloud.” Some sooner. Some later.

  2. Pingback: Future of Computing « NCE Social Media

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