More organizations than ever before are choosing to move their ERP and CRM solutions to the cloud. This then raises the question of ‘which cloud?’ With Altus Dynamics’ industry focus on non-profits and public sector organizations we get it can be confusing trying to understand what cloud is best for you – public, private or hybrid.
In a recent Canadian study, only 1 in 10 C-suite executives are familiar with the cloud! (Cloud Computing Survey, 2014, Northstar) So we wanted to write a quick blog to share our top 3 factors non-profits and public sector organizations need to consider when selecting which cloud deployment option is right for their organization. Every organization is different and will weigh the pros and cons of each of these factors differently.
Scalability is the amount of extra ‘juice’ your cloud servers can provide. With many organizations there are specific times of the year in which you’ll be utilizing your systems more – which means you need a platform that offers and can handle scalability. For example, your ERP solution will be more heavily utilized during your organization’s year end. With your CRM solution, if you are using a donation management platform for example this will be more heavily utilized during the holiday season as donations spike during this time of giving!
Both public and private cloud offer a degree of scalability. The public cloud has an almost infinitely scalable platform. By the very nature of a public cloud there are hundreds or thousands of servers to pull ‘power’ from. With the private cloud, you are limited to the servers you own and increasing beyond this will take time to implement and of course money. What you’ll also need to keep in mind if you are considering the public cloud is the costs. More often than not, the public cloud is cheaper than private cloud. However, if you are on a ‘flat rate’ plan that gives you a certain amount of usage a month – going above this during peak times can result in unforeseen costs (think about the last time you went over your data usage on your cell phone bill). Which means that deciding between the two will depend on the particular scalability needs of your organization. This may differ depending on the platform as well. Perhaps you need a highly scalable CRM solution and only minimally scalable ERP platform. In this case, a hybrid cloud solution could be an option, storing data that needs high scalability in the public cloud and other data in the private cloud.
Both public and private cloud have a high uptime guarantee. Microsoft Azure for example has an uptime guarantee of 99.9%. However, in recent headlines there have been stories about public cloud outages such as Google Cloud – creating headaches for users. Although this doesn’t happen often, it is a hassle if your organization has an internal IT team as they will have no control over fixing the issue.
Private cloud, as mentioned above, also has a very high uptime guarantee. However what the private cloud gives is more control for your IT team over when the servers go down for scheduled maintenance, and if an unexpected outage occurs your IT team has the control to look into it. If your organization does not have an IT department, then the public cloud is likely a much more manageable option as your Cloud provider handles support and maintenance.
This is typically at the top of an organization’s list of concerns about the cloud. Non-profits and public sector organizations deal with a lot of sensitive data, data which government laws state need to have a certain level of privacy around them. So what are your options?
If your organization has very specific government compliance needs and/or your organization handles a lot of private information then the private cloud from a local provider is a better fit – private clouds offer customizable data security options to ensure you’re meeting the needs for your organization.
The public cloud offers standardized data privacy options (which are perfectly fine for some organizations.) However, it will likely not be able to meet any complex/specific laws or regulations should your organization have them. The public cloud has certainly beefed up its security and data privacy protocols of late. Inquiring whether or not it can meet your organizations needs is something you can consult your IT team on and even your lawyers.
The last option your organization could go with is a hybrid option. With this model your organization would carry out data classification – asking yourself ‘if the data was compromised, what are the ramifications?’ Low and medium impact data could be deployed on a public cloud which gives the benefit of lower costs. High impact data could be deployed on a private cloud for the required data privacy.
As both Altus Dynamics ERP and CRM are cloud ready, this is a decision that all organizations need to make when investing in either of these two platforms. There are always going to be pros and cons to any cloud deployment option but by walking through these three factors your organization should be able to determine which option it is best suited for, as well as which option your IT team feel most comfortable with.