Associations and other nonprofits are rapidly moving to cloud-based solutions. Many have all but eliminated operating local servers and the challenges to maintain them. While some might feel having their data on site is more secure, the reality is that for Internet-connected devices, there is no special security that comes with physically locating resources in the office. In fact, professionally managed data centers can afford levels of support, maintenance, and security protection not feasible for an individual organization.
The rapid adoption of third-party applications to extend and enhance AMS and website capabilities may be a leading factor in a growing comfort with cloud-based solutions. Nearly all of these applications are provided in a Software as a Service (SaaS) format, with integration back to the AMS and website content management systems. These two are increasing hosted outside the organization. Even the large, customizable AMS products, are increasingly sold as hosted solutions. According to our annual AMS study, as recently as 2012, more than half of associations hosted their AMS in-house. In 2014, that number had dropped to 40%.
The shift is clearly evident that the way in which associations manage a critical internal resource – email. In 2012, nearly 60% of associations hosted their own Exchange server. By 2014, that figure had dropped to about half and our project is that it will drop to less than 40% by the end of 2015. Most of this shift has been to the Microsoft Office 365 service that in additional to a hosted Exchange service also provides a hosted SharePoint environment to support the organization’s Intranet, file sharing and document collaboration.
There will be some bumps in the road, but we fully expect the migration to cloud-based services to continue.