In technology terms, ‘the cloud’ is the internet used as storage space (space traditionally taken up on a hard drive in a computer) and as software server (software traditionally installed on that hard drive to run applications). The internet is not new, but using it in this way is because storing gigabytes of information for millions of users was not practical before a majority of them had access to fast wireless connections (Wi-Fi).
In practical terms, the cloud offers great. Costs can be reduced as files and spreadsheets are stored on a secured server online rather than within the office on a series of drives taking up space and eating up electricity. Moreover, any staff member of the nonprofit can gain access to those files and spreadsheets from any wi-fi device while at a meeting or on the way to a conference.
But so to are there. To help navigate the pros and cons of cloud computing for the nonprofit community, TechSoup and TechSoup Global Partner Network are presenting their ‘ ‘ through the month of October. It is an online forum, so you can still join the conversation and catch up with discussions over the last week.
This week’s conversation has focused on introducing cloud computing to neophytes and discussing its pros and cons. server farms rather than spread throughout a myriad of energy-consuming devices. A jargon-free 3-minute explanation of such computing is posted at CommonCraft’s website., for example, discussed the positives associated with the cloud, such as the minimal up-front costs and the the fact that use of the cloud does not require a significant IT staff in your organization. Cloud computing is also comparatively green, as materials are amassed into efficient
Nevertheless, the discussion also points to the issues of consistent and quick connectivity (Not in a Wi-Fi network? No cloud for you!), as well as the as-yet unstandardized expectations of security. Many of the commentators in the discussion also point out that though numerous issues still exist within the practical benefits of cloud computing, the field is developing quickly and new solutions are constantly being posed and tested. Thus, what might be a problem now might not be a concern come January.
Head to TechSoup to sign up for the month-long online symposium on cloud computing and its benefits to nonprofits. Even if your organization is not considering taking off with it just yet, you need to be aware of what is on offer and how it could bring great benefits to your nonprofit.