What is the Cloud?

TechBridge Blog   John Jarvis   October 5, 2015   0

The term “the cloud” is simply what happens when someone lets their marketing team pitch “the Internet.” And frankly it’s a terrible name as the Internet is neither floating around us, nor some intangible, ethereal cloud. The cloud means expanding your network to include the tools and responsibilities your on-site servers once had to servers hosted by someone else. From the end user’s perspective nothing has changed: instead of accessing software and data on a server down the hall, they access both on a server hosted in a data center via the Internet.

Public vs Private Cloud

Public – “Software as a Service” (SaaS) model

  • Hosted email (i.e. Office 365 / Google Apps)
    • Email is the easiest service to migrate to “the cloud.” If you’re using services like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail for your personal email, congratulations! You’re already enjoying the benefits of the cloud.
  • CRM and Data Management (i.e. Salesforce)
  • Financial Services (i.e. QuickBooks Online)


Private – Renting server infrastructure per user while they provide licensing (i.e. Intermedia). Or a colocation service that physically hosts a server that you own and operate within their facility (i.e. Peak10).

  • You’re responsible for software licensing (and possibly more)


Not only are public cloud computing solutions functionally identical from the end user’s perspective, but they are also far less expensive to implement and maintain. In addition to outsourcing the cost of the physical server hardware (thousands of dollars) you also absolve your organization from the cost of:

  • Securing your data from external threats
  • Providing uninterrupted power to your server in the case of a power outage
  • Powering “always on” servers
  • On-staff IT personnel to maintain your servers
  • A VPN solution to provide access to your software and data when you are outside of your office network


Want to know how cloud technology can change your nonprofit’s impact? Just ask!