Is Your Association Software Really Cloud Based?

How do you know if your association management software is in the cloud? Here’s how to tell.

What’s in the “true cloud”? Read on to learn characteristics of true cloud-based software plus questions you can ask to tell if your association management software (AMS) is really cloud based.

The “cloud” has many different interpretations. Some think it simply means that an application can be accessed through a web browser. That simply isn’t the case.

The true cloud embodies the following characteristics:

Born in the cloud
True cloud software is built from the ground up as a cloud solution. It’s not retro-fitted into “cloud software.” If your AMS is more than ten years old, it’s likely old-school software that is hosted.

Most AMS systems promoted as running “in the cloud” were originally designed to run on premises. The vendors selling these systems usually do not host, manage, or maintain these “cloud” AMS solutions. Typically, they turn responsibility over to a local value-added reseller. This is reminiscent of how application service providers (ASPs) operated decades ago, and most of them went out of business as technology evolved.

In the true cloud, all customers access the same solution. This gives customers continuous and instantaneous access to the latest product upgrades.

Cost- and worry-free upgrades
Association software in the true cloud ensures frequent, free, and automatic software upgrades. Without frequent upgrades, your AMS will quickly become out of date.

A true cloud AMS is built on a platform of thousands of servers, versus being hosted in a data center somewhere. For example, Salesforce has thousands of computers with redundant data centers all over the world, advanced protection for its facilities, and a complete data recovery plan. You can visit to see performance status an updates.

The true cloud makes it much easier for software vendors to release new and innovative features. There is only one version to support and maintain, so the vendor can concentrate on delivering features versus maintaining older versions of the software.

Vendors of true cloud systems with a large customer base can dedicate a level of investment in research and development that is unheard of with on-premises or other “fake” cloud solutions. For example, every year, Forbes Magazine documents the top 100 most innovative companies in the world. In 2018, Forbes listed Salesforce among the world’s most innovative companies for the eighth consecutive year.

Low total cost of ownership
With a true cloud AMS, your organization gets more value for the money. An enterprise cloud platform like Salesforce can achieve substantially better economies of scale and pass on the savings to you.

Security and integrity
No system can be entirely secure. However, when you are part of a true cloud solution, there are many more resources to protect your data. Compliance at this level requires significant resources and effort that is simply out of reach of typical non-platform-based AMS providers.

The true cloud AMS allows you to configure your application on their platform and ensures that your configurations continue to work when new versions are released. This gives you the peace of mind that your organization is getting to use the latest functionality without delay, and configurations or code customizations do not break or need to be constantly reimplemented every time a new version of the AMS comes out.

How can you tell if your AMS is in the true cloud?
Ask these questions:

  • Is every customer on the same version? If the answer is no, the AMS is not in the true cloud.
  • When was your AMS created? Some legacy systems dating back to the 1980’s may have been originally designed to be on-premises and not created or optimized for the true cloud.
  • Are upgrades free, frequent, and painless? If the answer is no, this is an indicator that the AMS in question is not in the true cloud.
  • Is the word “hosted” used? If the vendor says that the AMS is hosted on Amazon Web Services or in a Tier One data center, it’s likely not a true cloud application. The server(s) it runs on will still need patching, and it will not have the scalability of a true cloud application.

Discover true cloud-based Nimble AMS, built on the Salesforce platform.

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