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This is a communiqué from Alicja Peszkowska of Fundacja TechSoup in Warsaw, which is TechSoup's European headquarters. Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe with a population roughly equivalent to California (37 million). The country has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union; GDP per capita in Poland, however, is 61% of the EU average.
Fundacja TechSoup was established by TechSoup in 2009 as an independent Polish foundation with public benefit status, with the focus of supporting the development of civil society. The organization hosts a range of programs including our Polish Technologie Non-Profit Donations Program and Community Driven Innovation. Based out of Warsaw, Alicja works as a communications specialist and community manager. Alicja is one of our technology writers at NetSquared.org and she also does social media outreach. Here is her view of the cloud from Poland.
Cloud computing has been around since the Internet, and everyone who is connected uses it one way or another. If you asked someone in a Polish NGO if they know about or are using the cloud, they probably wouldn't know what you are talking about. I had the chance to visit some Polish NGOs recently to find out more about how they do their IT work. I visited W.A.R.K.A. Association, Association for the Development of the Kozietuły Village, and the Association for The Future of Our Children in Izabelin Górki. Like so many NGOs worldwide, each of them very much wanted more ICT know-how.
Would You Know It's a Cloud Service When You Use It?
Many Polish NGOs are already well-acquainted with basic cloud computing without realizing it. They send and receive emails, use mailing lists, and host websites on a cloud. Polish NGOs also often use online, outsourced services such as legal services or accounting.
Platform as Avant-Garde
Some NGOs go beyond software as a service (SaaS) solutions by using web 2.0 and social platforms. Polish NGOs use cloud-based social media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. Just a few months ago, a decentralized Local Groups Leaders Association received a prize for its social platform. Its purpose is to connect a distributed group of contributors and update them on strategic decisions. Nevertheless, among small local NGOs, online sharing is still commonly considered to be an online avant-garde.
Size Matters When Buying Into Cloud
NGOs that use cloud came in three groups. The more advanced cloud solutions are usually used by large NGOs who operate internationally and have to keep in touch with their partners. Cloud services are also popular among smaller organizations, which find it to be the cheapest and most convenient option. New organizations are the third group who find the cloud to be a natural work environment.
Cloud adds to the democratization and decentralization process driven by Internet and new technologies. We expect that cloud solutions that serve both public and private needs will increasingly be offered via cloud in Poland, and we are beginning to educate our NGO sector on what is available in this area.