What is “Cloud Computing”?

Jan 29, 2013 | Blog, Web Hosting

In this post, we try to briefly introduce “Cloud Computing,” and what it means to nonprofit organizations.

untitled-design-3Cloud Computing (or “The Cloud”) is a term that is constantly used by individuals and organizations about technology products and services. But what does it really mean? The answer: it depends!

At its core, cloud computing is a shared use of individual computing resources for a particular product or service. The hallmark of cloud computing is physical redundancy. Multiple physical computers (or servers) make up one cloud. If one computer or server on a cloud crashes, then the product or service that cloud provides remains available.

The following is a simplified example of how the cloud can work:
Traditionally, companies and nonprofit organizations would purchase individual servers for individual tasks. For example, an organization might spend $1,000 to buy a physical Microsoft Exchange email server. If anything happened to that particular server (such as a failed hard drive or bad power supply), then that organization’s email would be unavailable until the physical problem could be addressed.

With cloud computing, an organization might purchase five physical servers, turn them into one cloud, and run the applications (such as Microsoft Exchange) inside this cloud. So we see that not only is there physical redundancy (if one of the five servers crashes, all ten applications could theoretically remain available), but we also see higher levels of efficiency, because each application shares computing resources with the other applications, and more applications can be installed. There is no longer a 1:1 ratio as there sometimes was with running an application on a physical server.

This particular example leaves many details out on how this cloud is built or what physical servers were purchased. But the point remains the same, and the message is clear: Cloud computing brings redundancy and efficiency.

The imaginary cloud explained earlier is actually less common. This cloud is a private cloud – a single organization owns and manages all of the underlying physical servers, as well as the applications running on the cloud. The more common approach is to rent cloud “resources” from a third party provider in the form of infrastructure or service. For example, Sales Force is a Cloud Service. Another provider that is more common for nonprofit organizations is several of Blackbaud’s services, such as eTapestry.

People and businesses are adopting cloud computing at higher rates each year. There are several types of cloud services (Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS, Software as a Service – SaaS, etc…), and the possibilities of what a nonprofit organization can do with the cloud are huge.

To learn more about our services, visit our home page, or read about our services.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Why Choose Barred Owl Web?

The Barred Owl Web team is technically proficient, extremely responsive and provides a high level of customer satisfaction.  We highly recommend Barred Owl Web for web development, technical, and customer support.
– Enrique Fiallo, Director of Technology, NET Institute

Barred Owl Web is the hosting company to call first for nonprofits. Their solutions-oriented, customer – and client – focused approach to web hosting provides agencies the ability to consistently and reliably get their messages out to those who need to hear it. You can count on Barred Owl Web to be responsive to the unique needs of your agency. Barred Owl Web’s customer service is exceptional, and it is kind. Contact them and see for yourself!
Rebecca Whelchel, Executive Director, Metropolitan Ministries (MetMin)

Barred Owl Web has always been responsive to our needs as a small nonprofit. They have helped us immensely with issues like Web server security updates and PCI compliance.
Evan Donovan, Web Developer, Tech Mission

Contact Us


P.O. Box 21514
Chattanooga, TN 37424

10 + 12 =