Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit cause-oriented corporations perform crucial functions when it comes to championing social, environmental, and governmental watchdog causes. However, running servers and data centers are generally not within such organizations’ scope of core competencies. Fair enough. So what should NGOs do with their shared IT needs considering that NGOs often have different needs compared to corporate organizations? Nethope’s Edward G. Happ proposed that NGOs band together for their IT needs so they can maximize their organization’s impact in conservation, humanitarian work, and emergency direct response. As a result, an initiative began that sought to help direct NGOs to off load their IT operations to specialized remote providers. Enter cloud computing for NGOs. By off-loading basic network and data infrastructure needs to specialized cloud providers, NGOs’ local IT resources can be devoted to tasks that move the organization forward on their specific organizational missions.
Nethope’s aim is to help NGOs implement cloud technologies so they can free up resources and time to better pursue their organization’s core missions. Nethope is composed of many NGO members and the organization hopes to disseminate information on the benefits of cloud computing to its base so more and more member organizations will take up cloud services and expand existing cloud services.
Nethope says that cloud-based technologies fit many of the technical challenges faced by NGOs regardless of their specific focus. Whether an organization is doing mobile assessments and tracking of vulnerable children or orphans or giving financial management training to small-scale farmers, cloud solutions can provide cost-effective and easy to implement mechanisms to help NGOs achieve their service delivery goals. Much of these solutions don’t require much tweaking.
To help NGOs tap cloud computing resources, Nethopes’ planned Humanitarian Cloud Services portal lets cloud service vendors list products and services. Nethope member NGOs can then search the online catalog to find cloud-based solutions that are relevant to their needs. The services are categorized based on NGO mission type. Uers can leave comments and post information on case studies and participate in discussions.
The portal’s prototype and planning phase was just completed this month. Now, Nethope is working on sifting the portal feedback from early users. The organization intends to apply this feedback to portal design changes and usability tweaks.