Migrating the fundraising and donations website diabetes.ca to Microsoft Azure, managed by Scalar, Diabetes Canada experiences the advantages of the cloud.
End Diabetes is the rallying cry of the Diabetes Canada organization, a monumental challenge to be sure. Diabetes Canada is the national voice for millions of Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. According to Derrick Shanahan, Executive Director, Information Technology at Diabetes Canada, cloud technology is helping his company reduce risk, removing dependency on technology that is quickly out of date and a small staff that naturally struggles to keep pace.
With so much of the charity’s fundraising and donation success riding on the organization’s website, Shanahan and the Diabetes Canada management team are acutely focused on guarding against downtime and performance issues. Shanahan comments, “we did not have the internal manpower to support the site 24/7 for first level type issues that could be as simple as server reboots or resets. If a potential donor is in the middle of making an online donation and the site were to go down, this represents a big loss to the organization – a risk we cannot tolerate.”
Cloud technology is helping his company reduce risk, removing dependency on technology that is quickly out of date and a small staff that naturally struggles to keep pace.
Like most modern organizations, Diabetes Canada had been assessing cloud technologies for quite some time before making the move to the Microsoft Azure platform. “Mid-sized companies and non-profits do not have an army of infrastructure experts on hand to manage these complex and often outdated data centers,” said Shanahan. Frustrated with application downtime and issues that were not getting resolved, Diabetes Canada got serious about planning their move to the cloud. They conducted an infrastructure audit, identifying 3 applications to migrate. Part of this audit process included finding a local cloud service provider that could provide strategic cloud advisory services, architecture expertise, and ongoing day to day management of the Azure environment.
“I did not want to have 2 or 3 different vendors managing cloud for us, I wanted to find the right partner and we found that in Scalar. They pretty much understood what we were trying to do right off the bat, making it easy on us,” said Shanahan.
I did not want to have 2 or 3 different vendors managing cloud for us, I wanted to find the right partner and we found that in Scalar. They pretty much understood what we were trying to do right off the bat, making it easy on us.
Diabetes Canada is a Microsoft shop – all Windows-based operating systems and .net apps, so they were naturally leaning towards the Azure platform, and Scalar backed this decision. “Part of Scalar’s value is that we help determine which cloud our customers should leverage for different workloads,” said Neil Mistry, Senior Account Executive at Scalar.
While the website migration took priority, Shanahan and his team are moving a new financial management application to the Scalar managed cloud service. The financial management application represents a large investment for the organization and will be critical to day to day financial operations when the application goes live in the fall.
Also up for migration is a legacy line of business application for the arm of Diabetes Canada that manages drop box clothing and household item donations. This internally built Microsoft.net app is many years old and has gone through numerous iterations. Shanahan is clear on the benefits this move will produce, “it wasn’t having major issues, but the key is that it is critical to the business; we run coast to coast from St. John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, BC and we need to have this application up and running constantly. Having it managed by Scalar means we have the proper 24/7 monitoring.”
Shanahan no longer worries about the inevitable traffic spikes that come with year-end charity donations. “Now we can scale up our ability to handle the load that comes in by doubling our server capacity for a period of a few weeks and then go right back down again. This flexibility and scalability is something that is very valuable to us.”
Improving performance and SLA targets while reducing risk and modernizing the infrastructure has been a big win for Diabetes Canada, helping pave the way for further investment in a cloud strategy and managed services.