GreenTech LogoNubes de Dios (Clouds of God) from Flickr user Gonzalo BarrientosLast year, I wrote a post about Why Nonprofits Should Care About Cloud Computing. Well, it is time for a deeper look into the subject. Cloud computing is not going away and small and medium-sized nonprofits and libraries need to begin to understand it.

IDC forecasts that IT spending on cloud computing will grow at a rate of 26% annually for the next 3-4 years. Compare that to the projected overall IT spending increase of 5% and you can see that spending on cloud computing services are anticipated to far outstrip spending on more traditional technologies.

We here at GreenTech urge you to gain at least a basic understanding of what cloud computing is and how it might impact you, your nonprofit or library, and your way of getting work done. To that end, throughout October, we will publish information to help you understand what the cloud is, how this shift in technology might impact your organization, and we will even try and help you understand some of the criteria you should use when, you launch yourself, or get launched into, the cloud.

Find some of our existing content about the cloud, organized on our new landing page. We will update it every couple of weeks with our newly published materials about the subject. You can also follow our weekly updates in our weekly newsletter By the Cup. You can sign up for that here, if you're not already subscribed.

Our campaign aims to educate nonprofits and libraries about the basics of cloud computing, security in the cloud, and software as a service (SaaS). Specifically, we will delve into CRM (client relationship management) systems in the cloud. This is one of the more mature types of software currently offered in the cloud with companies like Microsoft, Blackbaud, and Salesforce offering nonprofit starter kits and donations or discounts for nonprofits.

We also aim to help you learn in the way that suits you best. For an interactive experience, join us for our webinar on October 14, or if you prefer we will have two new articles this month and three more blog posts. To get specific questions answered, check out our community forums where technical experts from around the world will answer your questions directly.

Also, our campaign kicks off a series of articles about software in the cloud that will run for the remainder of our fiscal year. We anticipate covering topics such as office productivity suites, backup services, and collaboration, so we urge you to check back periodically to learn about these topics in greater depth.

Lastly, you might wonder why we in GreenTech care about cloud computing. We care because it has great potential to reduce the number of under-utilized servers being built, run, and disposed of around the world. As more and more datacenters follow the example set by Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo's Flickr, then fewer fossil fuels will be burned to support our IT habits. And nonprofits and libraries become more efficient and save money too.

Attend the free webinar on cloud computing, Thursday October 14th! Post your questions for our webinar hosts and they will address these in the webinar. Learn more about cloud computing for your nonprofit or library on TechSoup's cloud page.

Photo: Gonzalo Barrientos

Anna Jaeger
Co-Director of TechSoup's GreenTech Initiative