The Documentalist

Building a private cloud server to cut IT costs in human rights

Posted in technology by Sarah on September 1, 2010

In a press release dated August 31, 2010, Riverbed Technology, an IT performance company, announced that  International Justice Mission (IJM) has created a private cloud server to support their digital documenting activities using Riverbed(R)  Steelhead (R) appliances to support the system.  As stated in the press release, though the upfront investment in the technology is substantial, the long-term savings in tech support is considerable.  The system also allows IJM more reliable access to the internet as well as considerable back-up and storage capacity.

IJM is a “human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression” (press release) and they rely heavily on email for communicating case information and protecting the safety of workers.  However, with 13 offices on four continents (the U.S., Asia, Africa and Latin America), dependence on dial-up or satellite service made for unreliable connectivity.    IJM explored ways of centralizing their IT needs in-house and found that purchasing servers, bandwidth and constant systems upgrades would be cost-prohibitive, so they decided to build their own cloud.  As IJM’s vice president of information systems, John Lax, stated:

“As we faced trying to reduce IT expenditures, we decided to centralize our email servers to reduce software and hardware costs — in effect build a private cloud… However, in order to ensure email was accessible in our 13 remote offices, we chose WAN optimization instead of costly bandwidth upgrades. Based on our research we determined that bandwidth upgrades would not address the latency issues we were experiencing.”

The result of this decision being:

As a result of its Steelhead appliance deployment, IJM was able to build a private cloud that addressed its Exchange 2007 performance and upgrade issues, while avoiding costly bandwidth upgrades and accelerating access to critical applications. “For example,” said Lax, “in Uganda we have a 128K satellite link delivering only 64K performance, which is insufficient to support an office of 12-14 workers. With Riverbed WAN optimization, we get five times the throughput with the performance of a 256K link. The Riverbed Steelhead appliances effectively doubled our bandwidth capacity while saving us nearly $60,000 in Uganda alone during one year.”

See the entire article, “International Justice Mission Builds Global Private Cloud and Cuts IT Costs With Riverbed,” for further details on this innovative approach to cutting IT costs in a digital human rights world.


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