By now you may well be used to hearing about ‘the cloud’ and how important it is for modern business. With so many new technologies and buzz words to go with them, however, it can be difficult to understand exactly which you should allot valuable time and budget to, and why.
To put it simply, the cloud refers to an ability to store files and work together with disparate colleagues via the internet. Think of it as a virtual storage or collaboration space.
Using the cloud in this way presents a raft of benefits useful not only for big business, but also for not-for-profit organisations of all sizes, particularly those that work internationally.
Here’s why I recommend charities to use the cloud:
- It’s cost effective. Using the cloud means that there’s no need to store files on physical servers in your office, which saves on running and hardware maintenance costs, and electricity bills.
- It doesn’t take up space. With no physical server or hefty filing cabinet gathering dust in the corner, you can use the extra space for something more useful.
- You have choices. With so many cloud providers out there, you can pick and choose the best deal for your requirements.
- It gives greater flexibility. No longer must you feel chained to the office! Now you can access documents from anywhere that has an internet connection, so you can work from home or abroad without having to fill your suitcase with bulky files. It also means that you can work with your colleagues on the same projects with ease, without needing to be in the same place – or even the same country.
- It’s easy. Anyone with an internet connection can sign up to access the cloud – no complex networking or server configuration is required.
- It scales with your team. If you are staffing up or bringing in a group of volunteers for a big campaign, you can set them up quickly – and also shut down their accounts easily once the project is complete.
- It saves time. With documents instantly accessible via the internet, it means you don’t need to waste time emailing files across to different parties. This also means that it’s easier to share bulkier items such as images.
- It keeps your technology up-to-date. All of your software can be configured to upgrade automatically via the cloud so that your systems stay up to date with the latest technology.
- It’s secure. Different cloud providers can offer various levels of security, so you can ensure that your sensitive information stays safe from hackers. Your files will be saved not just on one server, but also backed up on others in different locations, meaning that you don’t have to worry about losing everything if there’s a power surge or if technology fails.
If you still aren’t convinced, you can always try out the cloud for a free – many providers offer free trials before you need to commit to buy. Microsoft offers a month-long trial of its Office 365 Enterprise suite which gives subscription based online access to its suite of office programmes and services.
The hardest part about signing up to the cloud is the initial migration – transferring all of your files from your existing server, over to the cloud. This is where most organisations get stuck, but no fear, Technology Trust can provide a list of IT consultants who may be able to assist you with this so it needn’t be difficult. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
by Andy Man, Office 365 Support Engineer
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