Five Tips for Associations Considering a Cloud Hosting Environment

Christopher Stark, CEO of cloud solutions provider Cetrom.

For associations, a cloud hosting environment can be the key to successfully executing missions and supporting members, according to Christopher Stark, president and CEO of custom cloud solutions provider Cetrom. The company’s CEO provides five tips focusing on vital factors that can ensure a successful cloud deployment.

  1. Understand the Security – Protecting critical member information is a top priority for associations, so choose a cloud hosting environment with three levels of security. Strong physical security includes armed guards, biometrics, pre-approved clearance and restricted access. Optimized logical security incorporates firewalls, virus protection, intruder prevention, encryption and user-defined permissions. “Methodological” security also considers the human factor and confirms every manual process is approved by multiple cleared users.
  2. Ensure Interoperability – Associations often struggle with siloed data and applications that are unable to communicate with each other. A top benefit of a cloud hosting environment is that all data and applications are in one location, so make sure the cloud you choose also enables them to work together – like integration between an AMS and accounting system, or between the member database and email marketing programs. The cloud should break down silos and increase efficiency and productivity for associations.
  3. Confirm Availability of Applications – Associations require a unique set of applications to properly serve their membership, so it’s important to make sure those applications are available in the cloud and offer the same functionality as their traditional on-premise counterparts. With the right cloud hosting environment, associations should be able to fully utilize applications such as association management software (AMS), learning management systems (LMS), trade show management systems, email marketing, accounting software and more.
  4. Weigh Cost vs. Value – Cloud solutions range in prices from a minor expense to an exorbitant amount each month. The secret is finding the one that is cost effective, meaning the value justifies the cost. Oftentimes, this option will fall in the middle range of pricing, requiring a little more investment than the low-level solutions, but proving that the more expensive options aren’t always the best. Have a budget in mind, but also be flexible. With a quality solution, the extra expense will easily be recouped through increased productivity and efficiency.
  5. Check References – Checking references is a key component in the decision-making process when evaluating which cloud is best for your organization. Do your due diligence and ask the hard questions when contacting other organizations that have had success with the cloud you’re considering. The associations you solicit for references should be organizations that are similar in size and have similar business goals.

A Microsoft Partner with multiple Gold Competencies, Cetrom is headquartered in Vienna, Va., with offices and SSAE 16-compliant data centers across the United States. The company creates IT solutions including cloud hosting environments to meet specific needs for a variety of SMBs among which accounting and CPA firms, associations and nonprofits, law offices, and travel management companies.