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Cloud Computing Takes Not-for-Profits to New Heights

There are little to no upfront costs with cloud services and consumption is usually billed on a monthly subscription basis

Not-for-profits and cloud computing seem to be made for one another.

The cloud IT delivery model is well suited to not-for-profits (NFPs) for a number of reasons, according to an article on CMO.com. There are little to no upfront costs with cloud services and consumption is usually billed on a monthly subscription basis, allowing for predictable budgeting.

There are also fewer IT staff requirements; this is ideal for NFPs who might not have the resources to hire skilled technical staff. In the specific case of server hardware, no servers need to be purchased, maintained, or recycled with a cloud service.

Other tangible benefits of the cloud for NFPs include rapid deployment of services, and the convenience of being able to use the service from any location - ideal for staff and volunteers.

Technology information resource for NFPs and libraries, Techsoup.org, makes a strong case for cloud computing adoption among NFPs. Anna Jaeger, co-director of TechSoup's GreenTech Initiative, concludes: "Small to medium-sized non-profits who have limited capital, limited space, and limited technical staff can benefit financially and environmentally from using cloud computing. It saves energy, reduces the amount of hardware needed, and is often technically easier to install and maintain than in-house applications."

Software Market Influenced by Nexus of Forces: Gartner
The cloud is a force to be reckoned with.

By 2017, new IT buying based on the Nexus of Forces will drive more than 26 percent of total enterprise software market revenue, up from 12 percent in 2012, representing more than $104 billion to new worldwide enterprise software revenue from cloud, information, mobile and social initiatives, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

The report, according to an article on eWEEK.com, said technology providers must realize that the disruptive forces of cloud, information, mobile and social will reach mainstream status in 2014 and create new technology requirements, drive new purchasing and establish new competitive realities. In the Nexus of Forces, information is the context for delivering enhanced social and mobile experiences, while the cloud enables delivery of information and functionality to users and systems. The intertwining of these systems creates what Gartner calls the "Nexus of Forces."

While the use of collaboration technologies, data analytics, mobile devices and software as a service (SaaS) have been in effect for more than a decade, their adoption and popularity have increased significantly over the last few years.

"While there has been a great deal of excitement from the vendor community regarding cloud, information, mobile, social, and other forces and technologies, adoption in organizations and businesses has yet to catch up with the hype," Tom Eid, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "Adoption trends of new technologies frequently take many years before reaching maturity, stability and broad market usage. The nexus should be seen as a development and design philosophy rather than as a packaged product."

How to Reduce Risk and Protect Data in the Cloud
There's a ton of data floating around the enterprise, and exactly who has access to what is a growing concern for IT managers and CEOs alike. With employees, customers, business partners, suppliers and contractors increasingly accessing corporate applications and data with mobile devices from the cloud, protecting the edge of the network is no longer enough. As the traditional perimeter disappears, here are some safeguards to help ensure security in the cloud, according to an article on TheGuardian.com.

Know who's accessing what: People within your organization who are privileged users - such as database administrators and employees with access to highly valuable intellectual property - should receive a higher level of scrutiny, receive training on securely handling data, and stronger access control.

Limit data access based on user context: Change the level of access to data in the cloud depending on where the user is and what device they are using. For example, a doctor at the hospital during regular working hours may have full access to patient records. When she's using her mobile phone from the neighborhood coffee shop, she has to go through additional sign-on steps and has more limited access to the data.

Take a risk-based approach to securing assets used in the cloud: Identify databases with highly sensitive or valuable data and provide extra protection, encryption and monitoring around them.

More Stories By Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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