There was a day not too long ago when you went to a retail store to buy a box of software. Inside that box was at least one diskette that you would slide into the drive on your CPU to load the software and then run the application you had just purchased. From diskettes, we moved to CD’s. From CD’s, we’ve moved to thumb drives. But now we can access software through “app stores” and web sites.
Even though the trend for software providers is seamless electronic delivery, there remains a great deal of suspicion for businesses and churches around what is being called “cloud computing.” For those unfamiliar with that term, it describes software that is accessed through your web browser instead of software housed on your hard drive. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access the software or service you need.
The first cloud computing software adopted by the masses was email. Google continues to hold the lead in this area. First it was called “ASP” or “application service provider.” Then, it was called “hosting.” Now, we call it the cloud.
There are some significant advantages of cloud computing that every organization (especially churches) should consider:
- You don’t have to be physically “in the office” to access important files. Ministry rarely happens inside four walls.
- Churches with multiple sites can be connected to the same system for a centralized database of member information, involvement, and interaction. (Often referred to as a ChMS,)
- Integration between applications is easier which makes them more valuable to you as the user. This reduces the amount of importing and exporting of data from one applicaiton to the next.
- The cost of cloud computing is often much less than a traditional IT infrastructure for most businesses. (e.g. updates are automatic, no onsite server to manage, back up, or restore.)
- The security built-in with cloud based software is more advanced than most server-based church technology systems.
Is your church “living in the cloud”? What has been your experience? Was it a good move?