NZ Red Cross takes on Mother Nature with cloud move

New Zealand Red Cross is moving its IT system to the cloud to improve resilience from natural disasters.

In one of the most significant IT projects involving large charities and NGO’s, New Zealand Red Cross says it is on the cutting edge of the cloud switch over.

The move is happening with help from Wellington IT Company McDonalds IT.

“We began working with New Zealand Red Cross about 9 months ago, initially checking out the lay of the land with their IT system. It was clear some improvements could be made,” says Tony McDonald, Director, McDonalds IT.

New Zealand Red Cross Head Office is in Wellington where most of the servers are tending to the needs of approximately 350 staff around the country.

New Zealand Red Cross Chief Information Officer Wayne Sims joined the organisation last April and after carrying a number of infrastructure audits he realised that improving resilience was going to be a key focus for the organisation .

“The key success criteria is that if a natural disaster hits Wellington then we can have the national office offline, but the rest of the country will remain operational,” Sims says.

“We can then set up a Business Continuity Plan which would enable the national roles to be picked up in other centres. It would also mean that if a disaster hit anywhere else in New Zealand the work from that particular office could be carried out in other centres too.”

Mr McDonald says the project has been an interesting and very significant job.

“First we had to bring the servers up to scratch before converting both the physical and virtual data onto disks.

“We had to do this with the first server on a Friday, courier the disk to Auckland (where it’s being stored) over the weekend, then have everything running as usual for staff when they came in on Monday morning.

“We have now proved that this will work and it will take us about another 3 months to complete the rest of the project.”

McDonald says McDonalds IT will manage all of the charity’s servers from now on: “We offer a fully managed service and we do all the watering and feeding for that service.”

McDonald says his company deals with a lot of charities and NGO’s but New Zealand Red Cross is one of the biggest it has helped move to the cloud.

“We don’t see ourselves as an outsource partner – we see ourselves as an integral part of New Zealand Red Cross,” he adds. “We assist with decisions involving the architecture and road maps for New Zealand Red Cross and to do this we really have to understand the business.”

OneNet is the hosting provider in a deal which was signed off in December 2013.

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