With cloud computing's rise to prominence, immense amounts of information is undoubtedly thrown your way daily.
Much of this information, however, tends to be highly technical, difficult to understand, and can seem as if obtaining an advanced degree in computer engineering is the only way to grasp some of the concepts.
Today, we hope to demystify some of this abstract information and break it down into easily digestible chunks, thanks to an article on TechSoup.
What Is Cloud Computing?
Simply put, cloud computing is any kind of internet-based computing services. When a cloud is accessed, your computations are occurring from a remote location and your computer screen is simply displaying the results of those computations that are taking place in an off-campus data center. Cloud services are reached, generally, through any standard web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome.
A cloud-based constituent relationship management (CRM) system is the modern way to run in-office donor databases. It allows the information to be stored, and easily accessed from anywhere, instead of being local on only one machine.
What are the different types of Cloud Computing?
There exist three main types of cloud computing options. They all are relatively similar, but vary slightly depending on what you need them to accomplish.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This is the bare bones layer of cloud computing. Services like storage, backup and security are included here without much else. A great example of an IaaS is Amazon Web Services which provides users the ability to store, backup, and access files and information.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
This level allows a user to customize certain functions allowing them to develop their own applications. Google App Engine, Force.com and Microsoft Azure are all great examples of PaaS.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
This level of cloud computing means any internet-based software, application, and service. Google Apps is a great example of this kind of cloud computing. An application that is used so often many do not even know that it is run via cloud!
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
How can a cloud help project management?
Cloud computing can aid in project management by providing a dedicated space for online collaboration. Employees can share the latest versions of documents, reminders can be sent directly through the software, and update on their progress in one place. The best news? These workspaces are intuitive, easy to setup and, implement.
What are the pros and cons?
Your hardware will not need to be upgraded nearly as often because the computing is not actually being done on the machine itself. An older laptop or tablet can access a cloud just as quickly as the latest and greatest laptop can.
Because your nonprofit does not need to be constantly monitoring software, your IT staff does not need to be quite so large and will require less in-house IT equipment.
Documents are no longer landlocked to one device. A document can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, in just a few swipes, clicks, and taps.
While the cloud can be a reliable business resource, finding a reliable vendor can make the difference. Does your potential cloud vendor offer back-up services, encryption services, secure transmission of data, and have a disaster recovery plan in place for you data? These are a few major things to consider when selecting a cloud host.
Learn more about cloud computing by checking out the original article on by Jim Lynch on TechSoup.
Let us know about your experiences using cloud computing in the comment section below, and any tips you might have for other readers!