Over the past two years, many not-for-profit organisations have adopted new digital technologies to enable remote and hybrid work. This may have been the implementation of Microsoft Teams to communicate during COVID, or other solutions that enable NFPs to deliver essential services. These technologies are the first step in the journey of moving to the cloud. Further adoption technologies can fundamentally change the way NFP organisations work, allowing them to provide even better services to those that rely on them. In this article we will discuss what is mean by cloud computing, the benefits of moving to the cloud for not-for-profit organisations, and how these organisations can continue their journey to the cloud.
The cloud refers to servers that are accessed over the internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. The technical aspects of cloud computing can be very complex, and the cloud is used in many ways. However, for a not-for-profit organisation, there are three key cloud models that are important: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS are applications that are hosted on cloud services that user’s access over the internet. An example of SaaS applications include the office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) within a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, is a model whereby businesses do not pay for hosted applications, but rather they pay for the elements necessary to build their own applications. This includes the infrastructure, development tools and operating system. These are delivered over the internet, through a public cloud provider, such as Microsoft Azure.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS, is a service that offers the compute, storage and networking resources, similar to renting a server. This is the most complex model, however it offers the most flexibility.
There are many SaaS offerings that are designed to increase productivity within a workforce. The Microsoft 365 suite of applications is a perfect solution for NFPs looking to increase productivity. With a Microsoft 365 subscription, users have access to office applications, including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, cloud storage with OneDrive, and the ability to use Teams for communication and collaboration. As this is a cloud offering, all these applications are designed to work together, to increase productivity and make collaboration within an organisation, or externally, easier than ever.
NFP organisations are constantly at risk of a cyberattack. In recent years, cybercriminals have targeted many charities and NFPs, as they typically have less security, making them an attractive target. With a SaaS solution, such as Microsoft 365, there are many in-built security features that keep businesses safe from attacks. Furthermore, businesses can use multi-factor authentication within Microsoft 365 to stop 99.9% of account compromise attacks.
Many not-for-profit organisations are looking to adopt a hybrid work model in the coming months. Such a model has many benefits for employees and businesses alike, however without the right technology, it is difficult for employees to work effectively. Cloud solutions are perfectly designed for hybrid work. For example, with the Microsoft 365 suite of products, as long as the employee has access to the internet, they can work from anywhere, on any device.
With cloud services, businesses can increase or decrease the amount of resource as required. For traditional on-premises infrastructure, if a NFP needed to increase storage space on their server, or the load is going to increase due to a short period of temporary workers, the entire server would need to be upgraded. With a cloud server, NFPs can temporarily increase the amount of resource to accommodate these changes and decrease it when necessary. This is especially beneficial to NFP organisations that are looking to grow quickly.
If a NFP has their own servers, they are responsible for ensuring that it is secure, both in initial configuration and updates to the operating system and applications. This is a complex process and requires costly security expertise. If the system has poor security, it can result in a data breach that can be difficult for a not-for-profit organisation to recover from.
Cloud solutions allow for advanced security configuration, and the Azure public cloud is monitored 24/7 by a large team of security professionals. Cloud services still need to be regularly updated to remain secure, but this can be outsourced to a trusted IT provider.
Traditional on-premises infrastructure requires a significant capital investment, and over time the infrastructure will need to be upgraded or replaced. Many NFPs cannot afford this initial investment, which can lead to sub-par performance and a poor user experience. With a cloud solution, businesses only pay for the resources they use, which significantly reduces the capital investment and provides better value over time.
Regardless of whether your NFP organisation is looking to move to the cloud with a SaaS, PaaS or IaaS solution, there are many benefits for businesses and users alike. Implementing a new technology can be the catalyst for immense growth and can provide a better experience for those that rely on your essential services. Although moving to the cloud may seem like a daunting task, we are here to help make the process as efficient and effective as possible. To find out more about how your not-for-profit organisation could benefit from cloud technologies, contact us today.