Oxfam sticks its head in the cloud

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Oxfam sticks its head in the cloud
Andrew Thomas. Thomas Duryea.

Charity Oxfam is looking to save 20 percent on its IT equipment spend as it undertakes a four-year migration to the cloud.

“Our equipment was end-of-life, and end-of-lease so it was time to refresh. Last year we looked at what we wanted to do as part of a large internal process and engaged some external expertise to assist us in that process,” said Grant Holton-Picard, technical infrastructure manager for Oxfam.

Following the scoping process, the organisation put out an RFP outlining its objectives for the coming four years.

“Our overall roadmap is to move to the cloud environment. We want to get to the point where we no longer own and operate underlying infrastructure or application layer,” he told CRN.

However, said Holton-Picard, the organisation was not quite ready to shed all infrastructure, applications and data centres (of which there are two, one in Carlton, the other in the Melbourne CBD) in favour of the cloud.

Financials and CRM, along with some legacy applications, still need to be kept in house. “We don’t have the systems in place to access some of those applications from a remote facility.”

That didn’t mean other applications were not ready for the cloud. In particular, backup and disaster recovery were ripe for the move.

Service provider Thomas Duryea responded to those aspects of the RFP. “From a disaster recovery perspective, we don’t have the in-house expertise to manage that,” said Holton-Picard.

Disaster recovery was moved to Thomas Duryea’s cloud. “As a service provider we ensure it is monitored, and so there’s a reduction cost because it’s a shift to opex rather than capex,” said Thomas Duryea managing director, Andrew Thomas. “There’s also an in increase in service.”

“Then we looked to back up so they could take it as back-up-as-a-service, which is the second part of hybrid cloud story. It’s a smooth way to do data protection and they don’t have to worry about whether data back ups have worked. It also gives them a service level agreement.”

The final piece of the beginning of Oxfam’s shift to the cloud was the move to take development and testing off premise. “We can give them in minutes an exact replica of their production environment, and they can do development and testing there,” said Thomas. “It also has the advantage of being able to scale up and down as needed.”

Oxfam’s cloud journey also involves the use of Amazon Web Services for much of its public-facing website and database hosting, said Holton-Picard. “A little over half of our CBD data centre was taken up with hosting, testing and development,” he said. “This has all gone to the cloud now.”

Along with the website, there were also edge servers, as well as servers hosting applications such as Microsoft Lync, he added.

“Overall we are intending to move all our applications and infrastructure to the cloud over the next four years, including productivity applications and line of business applications,” said Holton-Picard.

“Whether or not we get there, we will see,” he added. “However by our calculations we will save 20 percent on the previous four-year period.”

And for a charity, that’s a saving that can go direct to the bottom line of helping others.

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