Help for Heroes is shifting its current hybrid cloud environment from Rackspace’s systems to Microsoft Azure, but retaining Rackspace support to manage the new environment and meet demand as donations flow in.
The charity currently has its systems hosted on a hybrid setup on Rackspace infrastructure. This was put in place in 2013 after the organisation required a more flexible setup to cope with a surge in visits following the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby.
However, Charles Bikhazi, head of application management at Help for Heroes, explained to V3 that the rest of the organisation’s technology is based around Microsoft and that the time was right to shift to Azure.
“We’re a Microsoft shop here. We use Exchange and do development in Windows software and we're looking at moving to Office 365, so it made sense to move our infrastructure to Azure so we can scale demand as required,” he said.
But Bikhazi said that the support offerings from Microsoft were akin to “cracking a nut with a sledge hammer” as they were aimed at larger enterprises with far bigger budgets.
So the ‘Fanatical Support’ offered by Rackspace seemed ideal, especially as the charity already works with the firm and has had a good experience in that time.
“We don’t have a lot of experience with Azure or managing applications on Azure but Rackspace does so if there’s a problem we can lean on them to help,” he said.
“Additionally we don’t run a 24/7 IT team, but they do, so we know we always have people on call that can help us if there are problems with our main line of business services.”
The move to Azure is expected to be completed by August after the charity's biggest event of the year, The Big Battlefield Bike Ride.
Help for Heroes is also redesigning its mobile and desktop websites after researching how people use the sites and ensuring that it delivers the best experience possible, especially around donating.
“This work is going to be reflected in a change later this year that should improve user journeys on our website,” Bikhazi said, noting that this will also use more Microsoft applications.
“This will also involve us moving our core website systems to Azure on its platform-as-a-service offering."
The mobile website is part of this, but Bikhazi said that the charity has no plans to build a mobile app as there is no demand for such a service.
“We’re mainly focused on making sure everything works and runs for as long as possible so we can support the team and make sure the fundraising is the main focus,” he said.
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