What exactly is cloud computing–and why should nonprofits use it?
Tech Impact Executive Director Patrick Callihan wrote a book, “Cloud Computing for Nonprofits,” available online for free, to help nonprofits understand what cloud computing is and why it is valuable.
“Cloud computing is, in it’s simplest form, any service delivered over the Internet,” Callihan said.
Tech Impact is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that helps other nonprofits with technology. It also offers its own cloud-based services, including backup, server hosting, email, and file sharing.
While cloud computing has become popular in the past four to five years, it can still be a mysterious concept to organizations. The book is written so that even those who don’t understand technology well can get a grasp on cloud computing and in turn make more informed decisions about what cloud computing services might be best for them.
“This is my life everyday. I live in technology, I think about technology, I read about technology. But for all the other nonprofits out there, they have their own mission,” said Callihan.
“They’re serving meals to hungry people, they’re building homes for people that can’t afford them, all different types of services. They’re not necessarily technology people.”
The Benefits (and Risks) of the Cloud
The book focuses on clearly explaining the benefits and risks of cloud computing.
Using cloud services, such as Gmail or Office 365 (both are available for free to nonprofits), for example, can help prevent the risk of losing data, as the servers where the services are hosted are often much stronger than servers owned by nonprofits located in their buildings. In addition, these services have applications that make them accessible on any device, making them readily available on the go.
“If there’s an opportunity here to move to something that’s better, cheaper, faster, more secure quite frankly, less expensive, and frees up not just cash, but the internal resources that were managing that server and they can refocus that energy and money to their mission, then they should,” Callihan said.
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One of the barriers Callihan has faced in convincing people to move to the cloud has been security.
“It’s important to understand where your data is and where it’s being hosted and what measures they’ve put in place to keep that, A: secure, and B: redundant, or backed up in case there is some sort of disaster,” Callihan said. He added that the best way to make sure your data is secure is to do your research about the company and ask the right questions when picking one.
“We counsel the organizations that we work with to ask those questions, ask the important questions about where your data is, is it redundant, you know, to ask them about the business practices around that cloud service,” Callihan said.
These are just a few of the topics and issues the book touches on. The book, which is available to nonprofits for free here, gives more in-depth information on cloud computing, such as more detail about benefits and risks, different types of cloud computing services that are available, and how nonprofits can best use cloud computing to their advantage.-30-
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