The basics of cloud storage — and how your nonprofit will benefit.
Originally written by Jamin Gluck of Amazon Web Services for TechSoup July 11, 2018. Learn more about cloud storage for your nonprofit at TechSoup.
It's about time we put an end to any myths about cloud storage and explain why it's valuable for nonprofits big or small.
In fact, it's likely that your organization is already storing files (images, documents, data, and so forth) in the cloud. So let's take a closer look at the value of cloud storage and how exactly it can help your organization better achieve its mission.
Cloud storage keeps information readily available and accessible
Getting rid of your storage hardware and using the cloud eliminates the need for your organization to buy and manage its own data storage devices (computer hard drives, USB drives, or servers). It also provides your organization with "anytime, anywhere" access to your information.
With cloud storage products like Amazon S3, your nonprofit can store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere. This information could include websites and mobile apps, program applications, or data from volunteers. Rather than relying on and maintaining your own devices (servers or desktop computers) to host your files, multiple users can access data from their computers and phones. And they can do it no matter where they are in the world.
Cloud storage helps reduce technology costs
Leveraging cloud storage eliminates the need for your organization to invest in hardware, as well as the IT staff required to maintain that hardware and operate an on-premises storage facility. Instead, outsource your storage to a cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services, so you and your team can focus on moving your mission forward.
Because demand for storage space often fluctuates, your organization does not need to "buy for peak" and then sit on unused storage space during times when storage is less needed. Instead, you can use the cloud to pay only for the storage you need at that specific time. As you need more or less storage, your storage capacity can grow or shrink in size, and you only pay for what you use.
All data should be available when needed. However, there's a difference between storing production data versus archives, or between storing frequently used content versus infrequently used content. As your organization accesses different types of data at various frequencies, the cloud allows you to specify the frequency of access needed. This way, you can pay less to store your organization's archives than you do to store content you access on a regular basis.
Cloud storage makes data more secure
Nonprofits manage sensitive information concerning everything from their programs to their donors. So it's imperative that your data be stored safely, and only available to those with the appropriate permissions. The cloud is built to meet the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations, and your nonprofit can create different login credentials with uniquely different levels of access to your data.
The advantages of the cloud go beyond just keeping your data out of the wrong person's hands. Cloud storage can also help your organization ensure that its data will never go missing because of natural disasters, human error, or mechanical faults.
Data stored in the cloud is done so with multiple redundancies. In other words, it's stored across multiple facilities and multiple devices within each of those facilities. Copies of files can be instantly available if something ever happens to your original content.