On Thursday October 11th our Executive Director, Pat Callihan, co-presented a webinar with TechSoup to discuss their findings from their 2012 Global Cloud Computing Survey and how nonprofits and libraries can learn more and benefit from the cloud.
In this webinar we mainly discussed SaaS, or Software as a Service. TechSoup lays out the benefits of SaaS pretty clearly, “Cloud computing allows you to access software via the Internet instead of from your hard drive or your local computer network. When you use cloud based software, it is available anywhere you can sue the Internet – not just in your office.” The software is on demand as well, which means it can be used in minutes as opposed to a client server based software, where you would need permissions and a server manager, which could take days to sort out. The cloud is practically instant.
TechSoup laid out the key findings for nonprofits and cloud providers in the first section of this webinar.
- 90% of nonprofits use cloud computing solutions
- 79% say the greatest advantage is easier software/hardware administration
- 60% say that lack of knowledge is the greatest barrier to adoption
- 53% report plans to move a significant portion of the IT to the cloud within 3 years
- 47% say the greatest motivators of moving are cost reduction and ease of setup
And although 90% are using cloud computing solutions, not all of them realize they are on the cloud. Some of the most familiar types of cloud computing that nonprofits use regularly are Facebook, Gmail, Skype and Twitter. Did you know those were all on the cloud? Think about it! If you can log in from anywhere with an Internet connection, chances are it is on the cloud. TechSoup made sure to pose the question many different ways, so that those who said that they did not use cloud computing might also answer that they did use Skype. Email and file storage/sharing are another two big uses of the cloud that not all users are aware are cloud based.
The benefits were easily seen by those using cloud based tools as 79% said that easier software access, easier disaster recovery, reduced system administration and rapid deployment were some key reasons they switched to the cloud. 62% felt that cost was another important factor, with low capital investment, fewer IT staff needed, rapid deployment and transformed capital expenses (Capex) into operating expenses (Opex).
However, for those who were not using cloud based tools, 60% of them cited lack of knowledge as a barrier to adopting the cloud. Problems with switching to cloud computing were inadequate training, no managerial support for the cloud and no funder support. Another concerning statistic for nonprofits was that 30% knew so little about the cloud that they did not even know what the barriers to adoption might be.
Some of those who did know about the cloud had concerns about the safety of the cloud, where is their data stored? Cloud data centers have redundancy built in so that your data is stored in multiple locations, so that even if a disaster does happen and a data center is down- you would never notice. Can your server in your organization’s closet promise you that? As was said in the webinar, “is it safer to travel by air or by car?” Your air accidents are higher profile, but car accidents are far more common. Same goes for cloud versus onsite.