When we use the term cloud, we’re talking about the location of a software solution and the server on which it’s hosted. It’s a new model of deployment for software solutions.
The old model – often called on-premise – requires that your software, server, and user access (desktop PCs) all reside at one location, typically your organization’s main office.
Cloud computing means the software solution resides ‘in the cloud’ and is accessible with an Internet bowser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). Once you’ve assigned the users you’d like to have access to the system, they have a user name and password that provides them access – whether they are attending an AFP event, meeting with major donors, working from home, or working from a field office.
There’s another very important difference between Cloud solutions and On-premise solutions: on-premise solutions require an investment in servers and infrastructure – which, in turn, typically require the organization to invest in IT resources to maintain and update the servers. Under the Cloud model, the software solution resides on servers that the software publisher provides.
Nonprofits pay for subscriptions to cloud solutions – usually a dollar amount per user, per month. With the majority of professional level solutions, including the ones we recommend, Intacct and Orange Leap, there is a one-time initial fee to set up, configure, implement, and deploy the solution for your organization.
With an on-premise solution, you pay a very large licensing fee upfront. On top of that licensing fee, you must pay an annual maintenance fee – usually a double digit percentage of the your licensing fee. That is because every year or so, the publisher will create a system upgrade and release a new version of the software.
Speaking of upgrades, every time you log in to your Cloud solution, you are logging in to the most recent version of the software. This means enhancements are added to the software as they are available rather than distributed at some later date dictated by the new version release.
Summarizing the points from above – Nonprofits can benefit greatly from the Cloud:
- Anytime/anywhere access
- No additional investment in hardware and infrastructure
- No added burden or additional investment in IT support
- Latest version software every time you log in
- Subscription pricing
It’s no surprise that the majority of new system RFPs issued by nonprofits have “cloud” at the top of the list. Xanegy would be happy to help you calculate the savings a cloud-based solution could mean for your organization.