publication date: Nov 25, 2011
author/source: Sumac Research
Cloud computing lets you use software, including
applications, files and apps, over the Internet. It is often referred to as
SaaS, or software as a service. The idea is simple. Instead of managing your
software on your own server and performing your own backups and upgrades, you
arrange for someone else to do all that online or "in the cloud," and you
access it anywhere there is an Internet connection.
You might already be using SaaS and not even know it. Gmail
works this way. You use the email program online. You don't need servers and
storage, or a technical team to keep it up and running. You just login and
access your data. Indeed, the Google search engine itself is a good example of
Why nonprofits are
using cloud computing
SaaS is becoming a popular choice for small and medium-sized
nonprofits to manage their data for the following reasons:
With SaaS you can access your database anywhere there is an Internet
connection. Since nonprofits' employees don't always work from a central
location, this is a big selling feature. No more setting up VPNs to allow
remote access to your servers. Employees can work from anywhere and get access
to the database.
With SaaS, you don't need to maintain a server or worry about backing up your
data. It's better for the environment, since it requires less computer hardware
and computing. With SaaS, TechSoup
explains, "computing power is shared and concentrated more in high-efficiency
data centres and less in the millions of office computer networks."
Little or no
IT staff With SaaS there is less need for in-house IT staff. There is no
server. Installations, upgrades, backups and standard maintenance are done for
you, so there is virtually no network maintenance to be done. According to TechSoup,
simplified network maintenance means fewer workers and less office space, which
in turn means "more salary lines saved for use on your programs or delivering
services to your community."
Of course, cloud computing comes with its concerns. If the
Internet is down, you won't be able to access your data, so make sure you have
a reliable connection. Some SaaS providers claim that they own your data once
it's on their servers. Make sure you can get your data out when you need to.
Finally, make sure the company holding your data is reputable and is in
compliance with standards for data security.
Sumac is a complete, integrated software solution for nonprofits that
tracks lapsed donors and distributes personalized electronic and paper
communication easily and cost-effectively. Sumac is giving back to nonprofits
by offering its software free to organizations with fewer than 500 contacts.
For more information, visit www.sumac.com