Our guest post this week comes from David Sturges, Chief Commercial Officer at WorkPlaceLive, who discusses the many advantages that come from switching your charity to the cloud. Many charities and Not-For-Profit organisations are facing the on-going challenge of balancing an increased demand for their services with rising costs and falling incomes. Most organisations need to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, and one area where they can achieve this is IT. Traditional computer networking within an office is becoming more expensive to maintain and resources intensive to manage, so a growing number of charities are starting to embrace Cloud Computing technology to improve their IT usage, reduce administration time and enable their staff to work flexibly and remotely. However, for every cloud computing convert, there is a skeptic. Some people have fears about security, the costs involved or are unsure what cloud computing is and how it would benefit their organisation. The first question any board member will ask about cloud computing is why is it necessary, and what benefits can be expected by implementing it. Many organisations are under unprecedented financial pressures so introducing new IT systems isn’t high on the board room agenda. After all, what should a board know about cloud computing and its benefits? In its simplest terms, cloud computing enables everything from computing power to IT infrastructure, software, storage and IT security to be delivered as a service over the internet to users, wherever and whenever they need it. If an organisation opts for a cloud computing solution such as Desktop as a Service (Daas) technology, all its software, applications, data security and back up will be hosted, delivered and managed by a third party provider – taking away the need for in house servers, eliminating unproductive hours spent in IT administration and reducing expenditure on software and software licensing. In the long term, this can generate considerable savings. The technology is offered on a ‘pay as you go’ model so charities can scale up and down as and when they need to – making it affordable and easy to budget. If the selected cloud computing provider has a UK data centre then security will be watertight. The provider will ensure the highest levels of data security, perform regular data backups and provide disaster and recovery services to ensure continual IT access without any downtime. Using a hosted desktop service, employees can access their company’s IT systems, including emails, files and their own desktop securely from any location in the world with an internet access, on any device including a tablet or Smartphone. They won’t need to be in the office and they are not reliant on their organisation’s servers and technology to work. This can reduce the need for an office completely. One charity that has recently benefited from moving into the cloud is Oakleaf, a mental health charity based in Surrey that provides vocational training for people suffering from mental health issues. The charity offers on-the-job training in IT, horticulture, upholstery and packing to help people get back into the workplace. The concept of cloud computing was introduced to Oakfleaf by Chris Bryan, a trustee with a background in IT. Chris analysed some of the charity’s IT challenges and realised that the management of its IT licensing, software and equipment was becoming timely, costly and challenging. The incumbent IT system was limited and on many occasions the internet access was running slowly or not at all so the organisation experienced more down-time than up-time! To convince the board that the decision would be a good one, Chris produced a white paper detailing the rationale behind the move and outlining the cost savings and efficiencies that could be made. With agreement from the board, he approached us and within four weeks we had moved Oakleaf’s IT into the cloud. Since taking the leap of faith, the charity now has a stable and reliable IT system that can be accessed remotely by users from anywhere. Previously, remote working had been difficult and employees were also using different IT systems. Today, the charity has one unified IT environment where IT usage is consistent. Chris Bryan comments, “The main benefits to Oakleaf have been a significant time and cost-saving. It has also provided us with a stable platform in which we can offer more courses to our clients. Aside from the reliability and stability the system offers, working with WorkPlaceLive has enabled us to make a quantum leap in terms of our remote access capability. We now have one consistent set of software applications for everybody.” So if your charity is looking to improve IT efficiency and reduce administration and costs, then moving to a hosted desktop environment can deliver many advantages. WorkPlaceLive, in conjunction with CTT, are currently offering charities a special discount on their hosted desktop solutions.