Five reasons to move your charity to a cloud solution

Joseph Blass is the CEO at WorkPlaceLive, and has been an investor in Cloud Technology since 2011. 

Having worked in the IT and Telecommunications industry for many years, previously Joseph founded Toucan Telecom, managed the turn-around of a WiMax business, and managed an AIM listed payment processing company.

According to the European Commission, cloud computing has been growing steadily over the past 10 years in all sectors of the economy, and is expected to continue, with the cloud market growing to an estimated EUR 44.8 billion by 2020.

The cloud presents a great opportunity for charities to benefit from top of the range, adaptable IT, without having to spend the money typically associated with technology. Here are five reasons why you should look at adopting cloud technology for your charity.

1. Mobility

Cloud solutions are mobile by nature. Instead of being linked to a single location, your service is hosted remotely, and you access it via the internet (‘the cloud’). Cloud solutions are a great way to enable greater workforce flexibility, with the added benefit that they can usually save you money too!

With simple cloud solutions, such as cloud-based email or CRMs, your employees can access a specific set of data remotely. This provides the flexibility to work without being tied down to one location. Using more bespoke solutions, such as Hosted Desktops, employees can log on to their own desktops and access their entire suite of software applications, from any location, using any internet-ready device.

2. Financial savings

An analysis of the total in-house IT cost including direct (predominantly servers and support) and indirect (the costs of electricity, air-conditioning etc.) typically shows that the cost of running IT this way is significantly higher than expected.

The European Commission estimates that adopting a cloud solution could lead to a 20% to 50% reduction of total IT costs, thanks to reduced IT infrastructure investment and lower maintenance costs. Cloud computing service providers can also typically offer IT services at a reduced cost, and providers like Microsoft offer huge discounts on charity licensing.

Without the need to find large upfront capital expenditure for server cost, electricity bills and the shorter lifespan of PCs, the cloud enables charities to plan and expand on their budgets, freeing up cash flow for other areas.

3. Scalability

Charities often have a variable staffing rate – either through running projects, working in collaboration with other charities or partners, or through volunteers. This means your IT solution should be easy to adjust, with the minimum financial impact to the organisation. With in-house IT, this can be difficult, as you are required to buy licences and kit to cover the maximum number of staff, and often can’t gain this money back if your staff levels drop.

Cloud solutions give organisations flexibility and make it easy to grow and scale IT requirements up or down by adding and removing users from the service. As the service is paid for monthly, this means you only need pay for the user when they are required. With a Hosted Desktop, this includes adding and removing storage, exchange accounts and applications too, meaning you’re only ever paying for exactly what you need.

4. Reliability

Server failure is not only expensive, but it can waste many hours of valuable time and resources. In the worst-case scenario, if business critical functions are disabled for any significant length of time it can impact a charity’s ability to deliver.

With most cloud providers promising 99.99% uptime, an organisation can always be open – it’s in their interest to keep your service running smoothly and seamlessly. Look for a provider with a minimum of dual site redundancy, meaning that if one set of equipment were to fail, they’d be able to get you back up and running from their second site.

In addition to this, in case of snow, floods or office closures and train strikes, working via the cloud means that your staff can access their accounts from home, or anywhere they are, meaning you can continue to support your cause without interruption.

5. Enhanced security

Outsourcing confidential data to a third party is big step, especially when it has always been managed in-house. You want to be sure that your data is secure, you want to know where it’s held and you want to be sure it’s backed up properly.

A good cloud provider will have all this information available to you on their website, allowing you to thoroughly research them before making a decision.

Look out for:

  • Is the provider ISO27001 accredited? If so, they will have very high security standards to maintain, including strict access controls and dual site redundancy. Typically, the security an ISO 27001 provider offers would be out of reach, particularly to small charities, as it’s prohibitively expensive to implement.
  • Is their data stored in the UK? Some UK charities are required to ensure that their data is stored in the UK. Having a cloud solution which can provide this can help charities meet compliance issues.
  • When and where is data backed up? Most cloud providers will offer backups as standard, usually to a second site. This means that if your data is compromised in any way, you have a full copy available to run up and work from.

Cloud providers will often have strict access and anti-virus protocols in place. This can help to eliminate the risks posed by employees using personal devices to access data, which could lead to the loss of sensitive data or the introduction of viruses to networks. Software and other applications, including destructive software or viruses, can’t be installed by users as the system is locked down completely.

Further information

WorkPlaceLive are Trusted Suppliers to the NCVO and hold the ISO 27001 accreditation. If you would like to discuss the security of your data and IT in more detail, please get in touch. A discount is available for NCVO members.

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