Providing IT services for a building that houses many charities can be tricky, says Andrew Croft, chief executive of Can, which provides office space for 129 not-for-profit organisations in three buildings.
Croft, who manages IT for the charity, says that operating in a shared building enables charities to access IT services more cheaply and share expertise. "There are obviously large economies of scale," he says.
Can uses 'cloud computing' to provide web-based services that anyone can use. This technology comes mostly from the Salesforce Foundation, which provides free software for charities.
"The aim is to allow people to use the services anywhere," says Croft. "For example, anyone can use any phone from anywhere in the building, and the bill is charged to their account. We just ask people to type in their extension when they use a phone."
He says that working in a single building creates security concerns, but the technology is available to manage them. "We've subcontracted these services to an outside company," he says.
The most important thing is to have an infrastructure that gives each charity its own server if it needs it, he says. If a charity has particular concerns about security, it can isolate its own network by using a network switch, a device that acts as a filter.
"Network switches are not expensive," he says. "It may even be possible to access this technology free of charge through the Charity Technology Trust."