Cloud Computing

At the most recent TechsmARTs gathering, we discussed cloud computing and how arts organizations can take advantage of cloud services to reduce costs and increase organizational efficiency. What types of services offer the biggest bang for the buck? What is a good approach to moving to the cloud?

Corner of building and puffy clouds
Corner of building and puffy clouds / Joe Winter
The layman’s definition of cloud computing given at the discussion referred to any IT services that are not handled in-house. Most of these services are provided over the internet. One survey, conducted by Technology in the Arts back in January 2011, provided documentary evidence of the challenges many arts organizations face in managing their technology resources. Most notably, 45% of organizations with budgets over $5 million have four or more full-time IT employees. But all other organizations (those with budgets under $5 million) are far less likely to even have a single IT employee.

Considering the lack of IT staff in the arts, it makes sense for organizations to avoid having to own and maintain a server on-site. When there’s a server on-site, it’s not unusual to have to rely on a tech-savvy board member or staff person, or an IT consultant (who may or may not always be available) to come to the rescue when the server goes down. Some cloud services can seem a little pricey, but managing and maintaining a server on-site is even more expensive, and exposes the organization to extraordinary risks if there are no off-site data backups.

Some of the generic cloud services mentioned at the June TechsmARTs gathering include:

We also discussed cloud services that are specifically designed for arts organizations. ArtsReady, helps organizations in continuity planning. And there are now several ticketing services that are available as a cloud service.

At the end of the discussion, participants wanted to have more time to have a discussion about these and other cloud services. For the next TechsmARTs, we’ll have a roundtable discussion as a continuation of our June session. But this time, there will be no featured speakers and the discussion won’t be recorded. We’d like to hear from you what sorts of services you are using, and your impressions of services you’ve tried out. I’ll also share my screen with everyone so we can check out some of the options that are out there.

We’ll meet at the Warhorse Cafe coffee shop at the Goat Farm at noon on Wednesday, August 29. Coffee and other beverages will be available. We look forward to seeing you then!

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