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A View of the Cloud from the United States

Cloud LogoDuring the month of October, join TechSoup Canada and the TechSoup Global Network for our Cloud Computing Worldwide campaign. Check back throughout the month for blog posts, webinars, and dispatches from around the world on cloud computing for nonprofits, NGOs, and public libraries.

This post is written by Jim Lynch, the Co-Director of TechSoup Global's GreenTech program.

This is a communique on the current state of cloud adoption in the United States from me, this time. What we know so far is that U.S.-based nonprofits know that cloud computing is coming, and know that they will probably be paying for their IT services in a different way, but are pretty unclear about what to do about it.

In July 2011, TechSoup.org conducted a survey of nonprofits on their current use of cloud services, their plans for adopting cloud services, their expectations on costs, and their barriers to cloud adoption. The survey project was done under leadership of TechSoup's Dan Webb. We got 495 nonprofit respondents from 43 U.S. states. They were quite representative of the larger nonprofit sector in terms of budget except that we got a somewhat larger percentage of large nonprofits with budgets over $1 million participating. Here's what we found out:

Current Cloud Adoption

Nearly half of respondents are not using cloud services (to their knowledge). About a third are using software as a service like Google Apps, or Salesforce.com, or a cloud database. A surprisingly large 15% are using cloud infrastructure services like Rackspace or another hosting service.

The anticipated timing of cloud adoption for most respondents (nearly 50%) is within three years.

Nearly 70% of respondents rate the importance of cloud technology in their future IT landscape as either somewhat important or very important. Nonprofits are very aware that this new way of operating IT systems is on the horizon.

Among the most important cloud services respondents said they plan to adopt are to get good cloud data backup in place. Of somewhat less importance are to begin using collaboration tools. The majority (69%) said that they expect to pay for those services, but of course want them discounted. Only 13% are currently paying for them. A significant minority (31%) said that they will use such services only if they're free.

Top Cloud Adoption Inhibitors

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Our findings here are very interesting in this area. Across the board, nonprofits have concerns about not having IT staff able to transition them to cloud services, being able to afford monthly fees that cloud services will require, how secure their data will be, and not being entirely clear on how all that will work for them. Here's the stats:

Nonprofit Comments

Of course we got lots of comments in the survey, mostly from people who are looking for better clarity on how to proceed in to mists of cloud computing. Here is a sampling:

  • "We look forward to this becoming a reality."
  • "Thanks for being proactive about offering what non-profits need to keep up in the digital workplace."
  • " ...a source to help us develop and implement a cloud-based strategy is what I have been looking for, so keep going, please."
  • "Thanks for staying on the cutting edge working to further nonprofit work for the common good."