What is the Cloud and How Does it Work?

When you hear the saying, “your data is in the cloud”, it doesn’t mean your data is actually stored in a cloud about to drop torrents of rain upon you. The “cloud” merely means that your software and services are running through the internet instead of locally on your computer or server.  Most cloud services can be accessed through your web browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox, and some companies have mobile apps for their products so that your data can be accessed anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a cell phone connection.

There are many benefits that can be gained by switching to a cloud-based system, such as:

  • Having the ability to work from anywhere
  • A potential decrease in cost
  • An increase in security over your data

Anytime; Anywhere?

The main advantage of a cloud-based system is that all you need to access your data is an internet connection. For instance, let’s say you chose Google Drive as your cloud-based data storage system and you are out meeting with potential donors who want to see your most recent set of financial statements. You would be able to pull up that information directly from your cell phone.

Another benefit from a cloud-based system is that staff members and volunteers working off-site can access their work and communicate from home as easily as they can from the office. Let’s face it, the modern-day workforce is trending this way, and this is something that millennials are looking for when they choose an employer.

How Much is This Going to Cost Me?

The pricing structure of cloud services is very different than traditional software. A lot of it depends on the provider; however, generally, instead of a one-time cost for the software, you are charged monthly by the number of users or amount of storage space required.  You also won’t have to spend as much on networking hardware and software and your outsourced IT services will be a thing of the past. In the long run, cloud-based software tends to save money, which can be used elsewhere within your organization.

Is it Secure?

In today’s environment, IT security is at the top of everyone’s list of concerns, and if not, it should be. It may not seem like moving to the cloud would be as secure as storing everything in-house, except it is. Cloud-based applications are more secure from cyber-threats than a typical in-house server environment because your server is much easier to hack than that of a cloud-based service provider such as Google or QuickBooks Online, which have teams dedicated towards securing your data. In addition, cloud-based service providers create multiple backups of your information to data centers in different locations around the world, which further guards your information.

How’s the Air Up There?

Cloud-based technology has existed for some time, and most of the software and services that are currently being developed are designed to be used in the cloud. So, get rid of that dusty server and take to the clouds! If you have questions about making the leap to the cloud, don’t hesitate to contact TDT CPAs and Advisors, we are here to help!


Dan Montgomery, CPA and Manager at TDT, discusses the benefits of moving to a cloud-based system.  With more than ten years of experience, Dan specializes in audits of nonprofits, governmental entities, and employee benefit plans.  Dan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Iowa Society of CPAs and serves nonprofit clients across all nine TDT office locations.