Navigating Your Move To The Cloud | npENGAGE

Navigating Your Move To The Cloud

By on Oct 16, 2012


Moving on-premise systems (or infrastructure) to the cloud can offer numerous benefits to nonprofit organizations, most commonly: scalability, “pay-as-you-go” pricing, economies of scale and outsourcing the management of hardware, to name a few.

(Browse some of the thoughts from other npENGAGE authors on key benefits and impact, or this classic and entertaining article from on ongoing discussions about differing perspectives on the future of cloud-based technology.)

That said, this move can be a big change for organizations used to managing and/or developing applications in-house.  Here are some key considerations when planning a cloud-based implementation:

  • Deployment Model:  Will your system be hosted in its own environment, with dedicated hardware?  Or in a multi-tenant environment, with shared hardware and/or co-mingled data?
  • Integrations:  Will your cloud-based system need to “talk” to other systems?  If so, what are the options for integrations?  Web services? File exchange?  Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)?
  • Environments:  What environments are provided beyond Production? For instance, Development or Training environment(s)?
  • Technical Considerations:  Will you have direct database access (unless deploying into a private cloud model, the answer is often “no”)?  What options will have to “customize” the system?  How will your various users be able to get data out of the system?
  • Security and Compliance:  How sensitive is your data, and what guarantees are provided for its security?  Key considerations for nonprofits include uptime, disaster-recovery, and PCI-compliance for credit card processing.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s a kitchen sink full of other considerations depending on your technical and business needs.

As with many questions in IT, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to the questions above.  But, the answer will definitely impact your long-term technology strategy.

What are your main considerations as a CIO, IT Director, Executive, or End User?


One of the founding members of Blackbaud’s interactive services team, Bo Crader works in various capacities as a business architect, implementation advisor and strategist. Recent projects include developing a multi-site rollout approach for a large healthcare organization, advising on the launch of a rebranding effort for a national federated nonprofit, and leading enterprise-wide organizational and technical assessments. A Blackbaud veteran, Bo has held positions in communications, consulting and business solutions.  He worked previously in publishing and served in the military. Specific areas of expertise include interactive strategy, emerging technologies, solution architecture and design, and project planning. Bo has been published in a number of publications on topics related to technology and fundraising trends. Bo holds a Master’s degree from the University of Georgia.  Bo is a frequent volunteer in his local community of Clemson, South Carolina, where he recently led an effort to start a nonprofit, and now serves as the organization’s Board Chair.

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