Jun 28 2021

What Nonprofits Can Gain from a Multicloud Environment

The cost, security and agility benefits of working across multiple clouds can give nonprofits an edge — but only if they implement it effectively.

Nonprofit organizations may be working within tight budgets and with limited resources, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should put all their resources with a single cloud provider.

In fact, cloud use should actually be seen as a way for organizations to better manage their service offerings, with multicloud environments as a way to get the best of all worlds when trying to innovate quickly while managing considerations such as donor privacy.

And given the desire of many nonprofits to manage themselves more like a traditional business, the corporate world’s approach to multicloud may be a good lead to follow. A recent study from TECHnalysis Research that analyzed more than 600 U.S.-based businesses found that organizations were using at least three separate cloud providers, on average, with 40 percent of respondents relying on a combination of private and hybrid cloud offerings.

Why Nonprofits May Find Multicloud a Good Fit

Nonprofits may be familiar with managing data using the hybrid cloud, which separates data on a public cloud from data managed through an onsite data center.

The need to manage private data matters to many nonprofits in part because of their fundraising approach. They must do more to protect highly sensitive information from donors, which often means taking a hybrid approach that involves tactics such as storing donor information in an encrypted database.

Multicloud environments extend this move by putting data in separate places in multiple cloud environments, which are largely public or private clouds but can also include onsite elements as well.

The multicloud approach is attractive to nonprofits, in part, because it takes the best parts of a given service and mixes them into a single offering. Say, for example, your organization finds benefits in managing its basic software or data tools through Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, but prefers to use Amazon Web Services to manage its custom infrastructure while retaining more private data in a separate database, apart from information that might be public facing.

Cost is another attractive feature, but so is flexibility. By creating a cloud offering that’s tailored to their specific needs, nonprofits can provide services in the most effective way possible, and presumably more affordably than they might have otherwise.

Multicloud Considerations for Nonprofits

While a multicloud approach can be seen potentially as a cost saver, it also can create significant complexities for organizations if not managed properly.

During Dell Technologies World earlier this spring, James Stout, senior systems engineer for data protection at Dell Technologies, emphasized the importance of data governance in managing information across multiple cloud platforms.

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“There’s little consistency when it comes to management and pricing. Data that’s easy to upload to one cloud service provider is often difficult or costly to move to another,” he warned. “Most important, ensuring your valuable data is protected from modern threats and recoverable at all times has proved to be a daunting task for most organizations.”

Compliance is another issue with multicloud environments that  nonprofits need to consider, specifically the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which may require implementing a data privacy program to properly manage information.

How to Manage Multicloud Environments

The challenges of a multicloud environment can be a lot for a nonprofit organization to manage, but much of what will make multicloud work for your nonprofit comes down to the approach.

As Gartner notes, tackling future projects with a cloud-first mindset can ensure that technology teams are properly maximizing their tools to the infrastructure they’re building, using the many parts of their infrastructure to the best of their capabilities and building those parts in a scalable way.

Another effective tool for managing a multicloud environment is to use outside help, which can make sure that what the organization is implementing across different cloud environments actually makes things easier, cheaper and safer for it.

Mission-focused nonprofits have a lot on their plate and, like everything else they do, making the shift to a multicloud environment should be in service to that mission.

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