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Cloud ComputingCloud based computing is a powerful alternative to managing hardware, software and all the associated overhead. Cloud solutions enable the delivery of hosted services via the internet. Users are able to access the resources they need, scaling up and down without any investment in hardware, installation or IT resources, enabling businesses to get big technology at a small price.

The recession has found all organizations seeking to do more with less, and this is acutely apparent in nonprofit organizations. Small to medium-sized nonprofit organizations must carefully manage limited capital, space and staff. For organizations that rely on donor dollars, resource management is even more critical to ensure that the majority of funding goes to benefit the people the organization is tasked to help. Cloud computing gives nonprofit organizations with limited budgets access to powerful computing solutions that do not require additional capital or IT resources to install, use and maintain. There is a wide array of services delivered via the cloud, including telecommunications, CRM applications, payment systems and file storage and sharing.

Small nonprofit organization, The Metal Museum turned to cloud computing to improve their organizational efficiency and reduce their document costs. They are the only fine art metal institution in the U.S. that preserves and promotes metalwork. The small team of nine manages a permanent collection of 300 objects in addition to managing traveling exhibitions, producing large commissions and running classes. The museum frequently shares photographs, graphics and other documents internally and externally. The files tend to be large making them difficult if not impossible to share via email.

The museum did not have the budget for an IT team and many of the team members had very little technical expertise. As a result, large files, graphics and documents were stored on disparate drives and CDs across departments within the organization. When the team needed to share files externally, they put them on a CD and had them delivered. This created additional expense and bloated processes that hindered productivity. With files shared and stored in so many places, it was difficult to keep track of the most current version. Time and precious resources were wasted when staff members had to hunt down the most current version of a file.

Curatorial and Marketing Assistant, Joel Parsons found a high tech, low cost solution to the team’s problem with Egnyte. Egnyte’s cloud file server allowed the museum to centralize their file storage and facilitate file sharing and collaboration internally and externally. The cloud file server also suited the museum’s budget, as it did not require an investment in infrastructure, installation or setup.

Cloud based computing employs resources across a network rather than relying on a single computer in a single location. This significantly reduces the operating costs while providing end users with the ability to access only the resources they need at any given time.

The on demand access also has the benefit of reducing energy consumption. In addition to the savings associated with not having physical infrastructure, the demand on other energy consuming devices is reduced. For example, The Metal Museum no longer has to print files to share them. Distributed team members and external business partners can access files via an internet connection.

Hosted cloud services such as Egnyte eliminate the risk and expense of maintaining physical hardware. With traditional computing solutions, organizations are limited to the capacity of their on-premise hardware. As needs change it requires an investment in new equipment or programming changes. Cloud based solutions dynamically scale as required to meet the workload. Even if your organization has an IT department this simplifies the administration of technical services and frees up much needed resources.

When considering cloud-based solutions, nonprofits should ask:

· Does the cloud provider simply enable cloud solutions or deliver those solutions? Some companies offer consulting services while others actually deliver the services.

· How will your data be protected? Is your data backed up on a schedule? Is there a disaster recovery plan? What is your role in data protection?

· How portable is your data? If the provider changes or you change solutions, how easily can you port your data? Will there be additional costs or licensing required?

· Does the provider monitor service performance?

· What are the terms of the service agreement?

· How much will the service cost?

Cloud computing is dramatically transforming the delivery of IT services and creating broad access to high end computing solutions. Nonprofit organizations no longer have to work around outdated equipment and solutions but can access real time innovation at a very low cost.

Vineet Jain is the CEO and founder of Egnyte.
Egnyte provides an On-Demand File Server for small and mid-sized businesses to store and share all corporate data online. With Egnyte, businesses get a complete hosted file server, without the need to buy any hardware or incur ongoing maintenance costs. Businesses benefit greatly by using Egnyte's On-Demand File Server because they can have unlimited storage at a fraction of the cost of a traditional on-premise server.

In March 2009, Egnyte introduced a complementary solution to its existing On-Demand File Server—an on-premise Egnyte Local Cloud. Egnyte Local Cloud blends the benefits of the cloud with a local copy of data, providing the benefits of unlimited storage, secure access anywhere, easy file collaboration, built-in disaster recovery, fast access, off-line access, and the ability to run client/server applications locally. Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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