Getting the facts straight: why charities are resisting the lure of the cloud
The growing use of Cloud technology in business is nothing short of phenomenal. The reason for this is that it saves on time, cost and enables flexible working. Despite these benefits, I find that many charities are still resisting its adoption. Recent research by Technology Trust found that, of 426 respondents, 58 per cent of charities still don’t use the cloud – 65.1 per cent of which are small charities. With the array of articles written about the benefits of the cloud, I wanted to know why.
We discovered that:
- 44.6 per cent of charities surveyed believe that there is little or no added benefit in using the cloud
- 56.4 per cent are concerned about the security and believe it is more expensive than hardware solutions, such as servers.
These statistics confirm that charities still have issues in seeing the value of the cloud. So, it’s time to put an end to these myths and share the truth about cloud costs and security.
Money, money, money – it’s a word that charities love and hate in equal measure. So when it comes to updating technology for their employees, I often see charities looking at the situation in the same way they would a broken boiler. Something goes wrong with it, you call the engineer to fix it and they give you two options:
1. Pay £30 for a new part to be fixed in the existing boiler.
2. Pay £200 for a new boiler.
Many people take option 1 and it’s obvious why, because it’s cheaper in the short term. Why spend more on a new boiler when it’s only one part that needs fixing? The thing is, when one part breaks, it’s normally downhill from there – meaning that sooner or later other parts get old and break. You can keep paying for more parts at £30 a pop, but in the end the boiler is out of date and useless, resulting in you needing to buy a new one. So, you do the maths – which is really the cheaper option?
This is a similar story with hardware. Hardware incurs extra costs over time for updates and repairs. Additionally, these updates and repairs require the knowledge of an IT expert meaning that smaller charities, who more often than not do not have an IT department, need to hire an external IT expert to update or repair the hardware, adding to the costs. Out of date hardware slows down systems, meaning that it can’t keep up with the workloads and when it does finally have to be updated because it can’t cope, you’re faced with a very large bill to pay. The cloud, on the other hand, is consumed on a pay as you go basis so is cheaper in the long run. It updates automatically at no extra cost for the user, like a smart phone. Additionally, it does not therefore require an IT expert to control every update or installation, ultimately saving time and money. What’s more, you get all the new features when they’re released, not five years down the line when you do an upgrade.
Charities often tell me that they think the cloud is less secure than having their own hardware because it is on the web, meaning that it is more vulnerable to viruses and hackers. But it is important to remember that cloud providers such as Microsoft and Salesforce have put their reputations on the line, investing a lot of time, money and more people than most charities have in their entire organisations into constantly monitoring and updating the security of their services.
What many people seem to forget is the physical security risks posed by hardware. Having a box sitting in the office is more of a risk. I recently talked to someone who, on their second day in a new job, walked into one of the charity’s buildings and walked out with a server tucked under his arm without being challenged! Compare that to the security implemented by cloud service providers. Even if you could identify the location of their servers, you can’t get into the building without identity checks and invitations meaning that you certainly can’t take anything out.
Ultimately, no matter how much you invest in security, the biggest vulnerabilities in any charity or business comes down to the employees. If you allow anyone and everyone to access your computer, share your passwords, or do not set secure passwords, it will leave you vulnerable to an attack.
So what are you waiting for?
Many charities are adverse to change but it’s time to stop making excuses. The cloud will save you money, it’s more secure and it’s easy to use – what else could you ask for?
By Richard Cooper, director of programmes at Technology Trust