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 Forbes.com 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?