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When you're choosing a cloud vendor, what do you really need to worry about? Not as much as you might think.
Or so I learned last week, at a webinar presented by Sam Chenkin from Tech Impact.Tech Impact is a nonprofit, and their mission is to "ensure all nonprofits can use technology to better serve our world."
Obviously, we here at TechSoup are huge fans of that mission.
Tech Impact's knowledge is also deeply practical and rooted in on-the-ground experience helping nonprofits choose and implement the right technologies. So I wasn't surprised when Sam had a lot of good information to share. What surprised me was what he said.
Sam kicked things off by acknowledging that there's often "a lot of fear wrapped up in moving to the cloud." But as I learned, there's a whole bunch of stuff you probably don't need to worry about all that much, including:
There are, of course, some things to worry about when choosing a cloud vendor. I think of these things as a yellow traffic light, indicating you should proceed with caution.
These are the things nonprofits really should pay attention to:
Migration and training: Both of these can be challenges when switching to a cloud-based solution, and there will be associated costs. Plan to put time and resources into migration and training.
The ability to change providers: Make sure you have the ability to "break up" with your cloud provider and get your data out in a usable format.
Cloud vendors going out of business: Sam's recommendation here is to pick well-established providers or have a clear "exit plan" in place.
Realistically, the big cloud vendors (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.) probably aren't going to answer your questions. Even smaller cloud vendors won't provide a lot of specifics about certain things, like their encryption techniques, disaster recovery process, or security procedures. And that's okay. This is to protect you (and them). The more information a cloud vendor shares, the more vulnerable their technologies – and your data – are to attack.
However, a cloud vendor should provide the following information, regardless of whether they're well-established or a new kid on the block:
Note that all cloud solutions and providers are different. All nonprofit needs, budgets, concerns, and priorities are also different, so there is no "one size fits all" answer about whether a cloud-based solution is right for your organization.
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