Moving to the Cloud on a Budget – Technology Tips for Non-Profits

Moving to the Cloud on a Budget – Technology Tips for Non-Profits


Today we’re talking specifically to the nonprofit organizations that are curious about going to the cloud and may be concerned about the costs. We’ll discuss how you can move your data to the cloud economically. You can do it effectively while still staying within your budget.

Key Cloud Topics Covered:

  • Moving to the Cloud
  • RIP: Your Server Room | 1999-2017 | Not Sorry to See you G
  • Bandwidth Considerations
  • Financial Considerations
  • Product Considerations
  • Office 365 for Non-Profits
  • Office 365 Plans
  • Office 365 Software & Apps
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Azure Security Center
  • Active Directory in the Cloud
  • Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform
  • Replication vs Backup?
  • Acronis
  • Hosted VOIP
  • Hardware Failures

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See below to read the full transcription of the video.

All right, today we’ve got an awesome presentation for you. Nonprofits are close to our heart here at Executech. We really like to take care of those that have an important mission in our community and in our world. And today, we’re going to talk about nonprofits and going to the cloud for nonprofits, how to do it economically, how to save money and how to do it where it’s still super effective and meets your budget.

So we’re going to talk about a lot today. Let’s first start out with who we are. My name is Eric Montague. I started Executech 20 years ago. We have about 100 or so technicians and we have over 50 nonprofit clients. So we really like the space. We like helping those types of organizations out, so if you need anything from us, just hit us up at and we’d love to help you out.

One of the biggest expenses in IT is housing information yourself. Are you sick of your server room? Does your server room look like this server room here? Not only if you are a retail, normal paying customer can you go out to the cloud economically, as a nonprofit, you can go to the cloud very, very economically and get rid of all your on premise servers and everything that you have out there.

A couple of considerations you’ll want to think about before you go to the cloud and save that money is you want to consider, do you have enough bandwidth? Do you have enough speed? Is it the right cost? Do you have it redundant in case it goes down, because if it goes down, you’re going to be out of business, things like that. So really worry about your bandwidth and see what you have and make sure it’s sufficient.

Another consideration when going to cloud is how much is it going to cost you? I have a little spreadsheet right here that shows kind of what it’s going to cost if you are a full retail customer. And we’ve done this cost analysis based upon a normal retail paying customer and about a 30 to 40 user organization, what it costs for them to have all of their servers and infrastructure on premise versus the cloud. There’s 3 or $400 a month savings, not even taking into consideration being a nonprofit. So we’re going to talk today about how you save even more money being a nonprofit.

You’ll want to consider a lot of different products. When you go to the cloud, you have just a smorgasbord of options out there you can choose. Some of the most common ones are Office 365, Google apps or what’s now called G-Suite, Dropbox, Box.Com, Amazon or it’s commonly called AWS. A couple items you want to consider there. If you have sensitive data, which a lot of nonprofits do, you’ll probably want to steer away from Dropbox. It’s heavily insecure and they get breached all the time. But on the others, you’ll want to consider what the options are.

Both Google and Office 365 from Microsoft have free versions of their products for nonprofits, so take that into consideration. But as you go to these cloud platforms and you’re trying to decide which one to choose, realize with all of them, you have to be approved as a nonprofit to get nonprofit pricing. We’ve had many people that have gone through and put a whole plan together and then did not get approved for what they needed to get approved. For the most part, if you’re 501-C3, you’ll get approved. But if you’re one of the other nonprofit or not-for-profit designations, you may not get approved, so just be really careful before you make company-altering decisions and that you know you’ll be able to get the pricing that you want.

We’re a Microsoft shop for the most part. We do offer Google services to a lot of clients, but we’re predominantly a Microsoft shop, so we’re going to talk about Microsoft Office 365 for nonprofits today. The three most common products that you’re going to choose as an organization is you’re going to choose Business Essentials, Business Premium or E3 … They’re kind of synonymous, and I’ll explain what that means … or E5.

Let’s start with Business Essentials. Business Essentials gives you SharePoint, which is a cloud server. It gives you Skype for Business, and it gives you the online or web versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, all of those. It is free, so if you’re a nonprofit, you can get all of that for free.

The next step up is called E3 or Business Premium. The deciding factor of whether you’re going to choose the SKU Business Premium or E3 is mainly based upon the number of users you have. If you have more than 300 users, then you’re going to have to go to the E3, but most nonprofits are smaller than that and they can fit within Business Premium. Business Premium is $3 per user per month. That’s about a $12 a month savings per user, so it’s a significant savings. This SKU brings quite a few things to the table. It brings all the same things Business Essentials did, so you have all of the web versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, Skype for Business. You have SharePoint. You have OneDrive, all the same things Businesses Essentials has, but you also get downloadable versions of those programs, and then you get a few other minor things.

Enterprise E5 is only $15 a user, so nice price point. It gives you tons of security features, and it gives you a complete phone system. You may have a handset sitting next to you on your desk while you’re watching this. Maybe it’s by Polycomm or ShoreTel or Avaya or whoever. E5 gives you everything we’ve talked about and a phone system for only $15 a user a month. That $15 user a month is less than what most people pay just for their phone system per user, so quite a nice little feature there to have.

I have here in front of me the major components of Office 365 that you can use. Keep in mind, these don’t come with every SKU. You need to decide which of these you want per SKU. For the most part, everything I will talk about right now comes with at least Business Premium. Some of these don’t come with Business Essentials, but they all come with Business Premium at that $3 price point for nonprofits. Let’s talk about a few of these. These two products right here, SharePoint and OneDrive, they’re some of the most commonly misunderstood products in Office 365.

A lot of people will say, “Man, I tried OneDrive for my business and it was terrible. All my employees using it. There was just tons of problems and it wasn’t sharing well.” Well, it’s not meant to do that. OneDrive is meant to be for one person’s data. It’s not meant to be an access point to share to tons of people. SharePoint, on the other hand, is meant to do just that. You can map a drive to SharePoint. You can store tons of data there. You can set permissions, so different people have access to different folders, or some people only have view rights. Some people have edit rights, stuff like that. So SharePoint and OneDrive are very great items.

Microsoft Dell is a cool product. It’s kind of like social media within your business. It shows what everybody’s doing, what they’re talking about, the documents they’re working on, stuff like that. One of the products I really like is Microsoft Teams. Teams, as the name kind of connotes, is like a team site that you can go to. It gives you chat ability. You can have documents that you share just amongst your team. You can have to do lists or planners just for your team. You can have a Wiki where you have a knowledge base to go in and hunt stuff that pertains just to your team, so Microsoft Teams is a very great product.

Most people know what Skype is. It’s a video program where you can have a video chat with somebody. One very commonly unknown product is Microsoft Yammer. Yammer is kind of like on a broad scale, it is meant to bring together Microsoft users that are like minded. There are thousands of Yammer groups out there, and a Yammer group is somebody that is probably doing the same thing you’re doing. For example, if you’re a nonprofit for orphans, there are probably over 100 Yammer groups just for nonprofit for orphans. If you are a nonprofit for the spotted owl in Montana, there’s probably other nonprofits that work with birds of prey or something like that. And you can find those groups and the nice thing about that is when you join that group, you’re going to get updates and you’re going to learn things about your role at your job that you may never have known. I joined one as the CEO of an IT services provider, and I get lots of ideas I never would have come up with, so it’s nice to be part of a Yammer group.

Microsoft Sway, it’s kind of like PowerPoint on steroids. It’s a lot easier to create a presentation, but it’s just got some beautiful sleek lines and it just has a lot of things that PowerPoint does not have.

These three items are kind of in the same ballpark, To Do, Planner, and Flow. To Do is a to do list. Helps keep track of what you need to do. Planner is a very good project management software. It’s not super deep. You can’t have tons of Gantt charts and things like that. It does have a lot of great features where you can have your main projects, sub-projects, things that need to get accomplished for each sub-project, so it’s pretty good. And Microsoft Flow, the one that I said was kind of categorized in that, is because flow is kind of if then statements. It’s a workflow system that says, “If something happens here, then do this.” You could have emails kickoff or a document sent or something sent out for signature, things like that.

And the last product I wanted to talk about was Power BI. Power BI is a business intelligence tool. You can take data from many different sources and build reports like in one dashboard or multiple dashboards that help you track those key performance indicators within your business.

Let’s talk about Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s server cloud platform, and Microsoft is really nonprofit-focused, as you can see in some of these pricing for the different SKUs that I mentioned earlier. Azure is another area they focus hard in the nonprofit. You’ll see right here, a big number for you. They give away $5,000 to you free for Azure consumption every year. You can use that in anything you want to do in Azure. We’ll go through a bunch of things you can do in Azure, but you can set up your entire infrastructure in Azure and if you’re only consuming $400 a month or so to do that, you may get your entire cloud infrastructure and servers for free.

A new product with Microsoft Azure is called Azure Security Center. It is an overlay where the cloud syncs with an on premise server or a cloud-based server and it tells you where you can improve to be more secure, notifies you when there’s a threat, gives templates and wizards of how you can set up a server for them to be secure. It’s very cheap. The retail price on this is $15 per server, so you can see on your $5,000 Azure credit, you could use it a ton.

Another thing that you have to consider is in computing, we want to set up users in such a way that there’s control around them. We want to make sure you have a good password policy, locking out after bad attempts in case somebody is trying to hack you, two factor authentication, things like that. That happens in Microsoft’s world through what’s called Active Directory, and you can get Active Directory on the cloud with Azure and it’s very inexpensive and you can effectively get it for free from what Microsoft is willing to provide to nonprofits.

Here’s a nice little infographic that gives us a bunch of other items that are available in Microsoft Azure. One of them is Microsoft SQL. SQL is Microsoft’s database system, and in Azure, it’s actually less expensive than the on premise version. It has a lot of features and you could move your databases to the cloud very effectively with Azure SQL. One of the most common uses of Azure is the Blob storage. The Blob is basically … I know it’s a terrible name. I know all of you out there are laughing when ever you hear Microsoft Blob, but it’s what some brilliant marketing mind at Microsoft chose to call their storage, but it’s called the Blob and it’s where all the data’s held out there.

A couple other things that are really nice. You can have Azure Backup. If you’re paying for a bunch of backup products, you can just move to Azure Backup and get your backup done through there. You can put your virtual machines to set up your servers out there. You can have websites. Another nice thing that’s really nice is this multifactor authentication. It is critical to have multifactor authentication in today’s world, so you can do that. We’ve already talked here about Azure Directory, but there’s many other things. As you see on this infographic, there’s a lot that you can get out of Azure to help your business be very productive on the cloud.

Another key component to taking care of your business is making sure it’s backed up. One thing you want to keep in mind is what is backup and what is replication? Backup is where you replicate files somewhere, preferably out on the cloud. Replication is where you take a copy of your server and put it out somewhere so that when your server dies, you have a full copy of your settings, configuration users, everything to jump over to.

The most common two products out there that we like to use for replication is Microsoft Azure. It’s a great product. It’s called Azure Site Recovery. Totally replicate your server up into the cloud. Another really good product that does it as well as called Acronis. They’re both great utilities. You can go to the cloud with it and if anything happens at your facility, you’re totally safe.

Another thing that you’ll want to think about when going to the cloud is a phone system. We mentioned Enterprise E5 earlier. That’s one way to get a phone system on the cloud. It’s called VoIP or hosted VoIP, but there are many other providers out there and many of those providers have nonprofit pricing. Some of the nice things about hosted VoIP. You can have many locations all sync together. Find Me, Follow Me, meaning you’re out of the office and it will ring your cell phone, voicemail, email, unlimited long distance. There’s a lot of great features with VoIP.

Why do you want to go to the cloud? The simple thing is hardware failures. I don’t want to be that guy right there anymore. I don’t want to be him. I’m sick of being that guy where the hardware has failed. Going to the cloud is wonderful because you never have to worry about hardware failures again.

Another thing to think about is as you’re going to these things, why do you care? Really, ask yourself that question. Why do you care? You’re actually in a very risky business. You are the custodian of a lot of very important data and if someone hacks it, you’re in a lot of trouble. The nice thing about going to the cloud is you no longer really have to worry about it because you are actually more secure in the cloud than you are taking care of it yourself. You have tons of professionals using a sophisticated one, of course. You have tons of professionals watching over all your stuff 24/7, 365.

There’s a couple of considerations you might want to keep in mind of why not to go to the cloud. Some of them may be speed. There may be cost issues involved. There may be many other things that you’ll want to consider. Maybe software you use doesn’t work on the cloud. There are some considerations of why not to go to the cloud you may want to think of.

Going to the cloud will save you money. If you’re a nonprofit, it’s likely that you can go to the cloud and hardly have any expense, and if we can help you in any way, we’d be glad at no charge to give you a complete assessment of everything you would take to get you to the cloud. Hit us up at My name’s Eric Montague and I’ve enjoyed being with you today.


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