Cloud has been a hot topic for computing and services for almost a decade, but there are still many organizations that aren’t “on the cloud”. Whether you’re relying on an “on premise” back office solution, or don’t have an integrated system to begin with, a cloud option is likely to be faster, more cost effective, and less prone to become obsolete.
But it can also seem like a confusing world, with new terminology and trends. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide to the common questions we hear from our nonprofit, K12, human services, and other social impact clients.
What is cloud?
“Cloud” describes internet-based services such as databases and software, as opposed to the traditional “on premise” solutions, which are programs and processes using servers that are on-site. So historically, when you bought a software solution, it was installed on local computers in your building. Today, instead of needing multiple servers in your office and having programs locally installed, you can access these solutions remotely – “in the cloud”. This reduces much of the IT and infrastructure burden from nonprofit and education organizations.
Why are so many organizations moving from on premise to cloud?
Cloud isn’t a new trend. The term was developed in the 1960s, and popularized by Google from 2006. Three-quarters of companies now have at least some cloud-based services, and more cloud solutions are available every day. There are lots of reasons for moving to the cloud, including better access and integration, reduced cost and burden on internal IT, improved security and reduced risk, and cloud is often more cost-effective than on premise.
What is a cloud-based ERP?
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software connects your finance, HR, payroll and other key programs into one system and database. A cloud-based ERP offers all the traditional advantages of an ERP, including faster and more efficient recording and reporting. With all your data in one place, you can trust that you have accurate information, and when you update data in one place it automatically updates across the system. When this is moved to the cloud, you gain the additional advantages of a much faster set up and implementation, easy upgrades, and outsourced upkeep.
Is it safe and secure?
Yes! In fact, cloud services based on Microsoft’s platform, as Sparkrock’s is, are the most secure in the world. Microsoft employs 3500 security specialists – resources that even large organizations can’t hope to match. Whether you’re concerned about disaster contingency, hacking, or internal security breaches, a cloud-solution is more secure than on premise servers, with automatic backups and the latest in security measures.
What is the cost difference between cloud and premise?
In general, cloud is more cost effective than on premise. It is done on a subscription model so you pay annually for the services and functions you need, and can easily scale up or down as you’re organizational needs change.
What programs can run in the cloud?
Any Sparkrock solution you currently use will have a cloud option. Talk to a Sparkrock consultant today about your ERP and how you could move it effectively to cloud.
How would cloud migration affect my organization?
Any change requires communication and management, but cloud will be good for everyone in the organization as they’ll have better, more consistent access to the data they need. Your IT team will be able to focus on frontline programs and long term strategy instead of supervising maintenance and upgrades, while your managers will be impressed by the extra speed and access. You’ll need to explain the process to your stakeholders, from frontline workers to board members. With 15 years of project and change management experience, Sparkrock can help make sure your cloud migration and implementation are a success from first consultation, to training and adoption.
This is the first in our series of articles about cloud for nonprofits and K12. Subscribe below to get regular updates on the latest expert insights from Sparkrock.