Month: July 2015

Claranet gives Unicef UK the support it needs to extend its charitable reach

Leading children’s charity calls on Claranet for a reliable hosting solution to cope with web traffic surges

Unicef UK has called on IT services provider Claranet to provide a hosting solution for the charity’s websites.

As the leading organisation for promoting the rights and wellbeing of children Unicef UK is supported entirely by voluntary donations, which means having reliable digital channels is vital.

With digital being at the heart of Unicef UK’s work the charity called on Claranet to provide a hosting solution to help the charity maintain its online exposure and support its campaigns.

Joanne Di Rosa, Digital Technology Manager of Unicef UK explained, the charity’s path to digital success has not been without its challenges:

Digital technology can be difficult to work with because website traffic can vary, particularly if there is a big campaign being executed, which then puts pressure on our hosting arrangements. It’s vital for Unicef to have a live website that is reliable and support our aims to drive support for its important causes and accept donations.”

Joanne continued:

We turned to Claranet for a Managed Hosting solution. They were able to design a more reliable and resilient infrastructure for our websites to sit on, and streamlined the management of the environment to a single point of contact, allowing us to dedicate more of our time to campaigning.”

The Managed Hosting solution, which is underpinned by Claranet’s private MPLS network, supports the majority of Unicef UK’s web presence including the main website, donations funnel and other transactional applications. The infrastructure includes load balancers and Claranet’s Web Acceleration service, which cache the applications and divert traffic away from the servers themselves. This allows the sites to perform effectively during crucial times and when Unicef UK needs their websites most.

Joanne concluded:

“We wanted a provider that could lead us in the right direction and give us the help we needed to get on with our fundraising efforts. Claranet immediately understood the way we work and our aspirations to use digital channels to engage more supporters. We feel confident that, were an emergency to hit, we have the right technical solution in place to support our digital estate and engage the public, driving digital innovation to maximise funds going to children in danger around the world.”

Read the case study in full: http://www.claranet.co.uk/case-studies/unicef-uk-extends-its-charitable-…

Unicef UK case study

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Many of Unicef’s campaigns are digital and their website is key to fundraising efforts, but they were outgrowing their infrastructure with downtime significantly impacting the charity’s effectiveness. Claranet designed a fully Managed Hosting solution that allowed Unicef to build more reliable and resilient infrastructure and streamline their IT management – letting them dedicate more time to campaigning.

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Unicef UK extends its charitable reach with support from Claranet

Executive summary

Challenge: Many of Unicef’s campaigns are digital and their website is key to fundraising efforts, but they were outgrowing their infrastructure with downtime significantly impacting the charity’s effectiveness.

Solution: Claranet designed a fully Managed Hosting solution that allowed Unicef to build more reliable and resilient infrastructure and streamline their IT management – letting them dedicate more time to campaigning.

Result: Unicef doesn’t have the resources to have in-house hosting expertise and benefited hugely from Claranet’s support structure. During their Soccer Aid event, for example, Claranet migrated and load tested the website, before adding the required load balancers and bandwidth at short notice – all of which played its part in raising £6.5 million on the day.

The challenge

Unicef UK’s digital channels are central to everything they do and their websites are key to its fundraising efforts. However, the path to digital success has not been without its challenges and with some big campaigns on the horizon, for which website performance and support were key, the charity called on Claranet to migrate its online presence to its secure and flexible Managed Hosting solution.

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child in everything they do. Unicef UK is a registered charity supported entirely by voluntary donations, which they rely upon to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. Many of charity’s campaigns are digital, which helps to gain exposure and share the amazing work they do with the public. Donations are generated through its websites, which in turn allow Unicef to protect children in danger and build a safer world for children.

However, digital technology poses significant challenges because website traffic can vary, particularly if there is a big campaign being executed, which can put pressure on its hosting arrangements. Any downtime can seriously impact Unicef’s ability to drive support for its causes and accept donations, so the charity’s digital team set about finding a more secure and reliable platform on which to host its websites.

Joanne Di Rosa, Digital Technology Manager at Unicef UK, explained:

We had outgrown the infrastructure we were using and were experiencing significant performance issues with our websites. 2014 was a busy year for Unicef UK, with two significant fundraising events; Soccer Aid and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, so it was important to have reliable hosting in place.”

The solution

That’s when we turned to Claranet for a Managed Hosting solution, who designed a more reliable and resilient infrastructure for our websites to sit on, and streamlined the management of the environment to a single point of contact, allowing us to dedicate more of our time to campaigning.”

The Managed Hosting solution, which is underpinned by Claranet’s private MPLS network, supports the majority of Unicef UK’s web presence including the main website, donations funnel and other transactional applications. The infrastructure includes load balancers and Claranet’s Web Acceleration service, which caches the applications and diverts traffic away from the servers themselves. This allows the sites to perform effectively during crucial times and when Unicef UK needs their websites most. During the Commonwealth Games, for example, their websites saw peaks of 18,000 visitors, but in spite of the pressure that this level of traffic entails, the hosting went off without a hitch.

A good example of what it is like working with Claranet was ahead of our high profile sporting event Soccer Aid. Unicef worked with Claranet’s dedicated Service Management team in order to migrate and load test the website on the newly commissioned hosting environment. After load testing it became clear that we needed to increase the scope of the solution and Claranet were quick to add dedicated load balancers and more bandwidth at short notice. This meant that on the night itself Claranet’s solution played its part in helping us raise an amazing £6.5 million for children all over the world.”

Joanne Di Rosa
Digital Technology Manager, Unicef UK

The result

As a charity, Unicef UK doesn’t have the resources to dedicate to being experts in hosting, so according to Joanne, a key benefit of the solution has been the support structures offered by Claranet: “We wanted a provider that could lead us in the right direction and give us the help we needed to get on with our fundraising efforts. Claranet immediately understood the way we work and how the internet supports our outreach. We really value the service they offer. It’s nice to have someone looking at our business impartially who cares about us and proactively looks at ways to help. We have a great relationship with the Service Management team – they just ‘gets things done’ when we need them to.

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The future

Unicef UK’s future aspirations are to use its digital channels to engage more supporters for the work that it does for children.

Joanne concluded: “When an emergency hits it’s vital to have the right technical solution in place to support our digital estate and engage the public. Unicef UK’s relationship with Claranet is that of a trusted partner, and we know that we can rely on them to help us drive digital innovation so we can maximise funds to support children in danger around the world.”

Download full case study in PDF

Gaining competitive advantage through the cloud

When was the last time that individual giving was the largest source of income for the voluntary sector?

Any ideas?

March 2004.

Insight: recently it’s proved very tricky to attract and keep those new donors.

At the same time, the public sector is reducing its responsibilities in related respects, putting greater pressure on the third sector to overdeliver whilst underesourced.

Charities need to find a way to maintain competitiveness under these less-than-ideal conditions.

Hosted VoIP can not be left to the mercy of the public internet, warns Claranet

Network integration critical to ensuring reliability of service for hosted voice solutions and safeguarding corporate reputation

The critical nature of voice to business communication dictates that businesses cannot afford to take any risks with the performance of their cloud-based telephony systems. According to Claranet, cloud services are only as reliable and secure as the network down which they are delivered, and by throwing their VoIP services out to the public internet, many businesses are unnecessarily risking their ability to communicate effectively.

The benefits that hosted VoIP solutions can offer businesses has seen this sort of telephony take off in recent years. Today, around 1.4 million people actively use hosted voice services in the UK and 100,000 more are joining them each month. However, according to James Mitchell, Senior Product Manager for Unified Communications, the move to hosted voice for early adopters of the technology has not been as seamless as many would have liked.

Mitchell commented:

Hosted voice solutions have been around for quite some time and are quickly growing in momentum. Given the benefits that these technologies can offer, in terms of cost, agility and flexibility that should come as little surprise, but the migration away from traditional PBX systems has not been without its challenges, particularly when it comes to connectivity. Many of the early hosted voice solutions relied either on the public internet or a private network run by a third party separate to the application host, and while these delivery methods can be effective, they simply can’t guarantee the quality of service that businesses need for something as critical as voice communications.

He continued:

All businesses that have outsourced, or intend to outsource, parts of their IT infrastructure should consider the vital importance of the network to the successful operation of their cloud service. Leaving your telephony at the mercy of the public internet renders the service vulnerable to fluctuations in bandwidth, while if multiple providers are involved in an overall service – e.g. a carrier, hosting company and application provider – there may be problems when it comes to identifying the root cause of service disruptions and fixing the problem. The consequences of this include having to pay over the odds for networking technology that is often unsuitable for taking full advantage of the cloud-based telephony, with businesses suffering from poor application performance as a result.”

Mitchell went on to say that whether a business is moving to a hosted voice solution, or just thinking about it, they must consider who is accountable for the performance and availability of the network upon which these services rely:

If you are going to outsource business-critical IT functions to the cloud, such as voice, then you need a connection with strict performance and availability guarantees. Downtime could have a significant reputational and operational impact and the best way to guarantee the performance and reliability of hosted voice is to opt for a provider that offers integrated cloud hosting, application management and network services. Accountability is clear and the provider is able to monitor and respond to downtime in a holistic way, reducing the length of time that an issue exists. Mindful of these issues, Claranet recently launched a Hosted Voice service, which we deliver via our private MPLS network, which allows us to supply our customers with all of the benefits of cloud telephony services but with less potential for service disruption.”

How mobile communication in the cloud can connect your charity

Mobile devices and applications that allow us to go about our everyday tasks on the move create enormous amounts of value. Mobile technology has taken the workplace by storm, with an estimated 40% of employees using personal mobile devices for work (Gartner.com).

This all-hours access through mobile and tablet devices is facilitated by the cloud.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Single Cloud Services Provider

73% of enterprises would prefer to have a single committed cloud partner. [1]

Either to manage relationships with other channel partners or as a single provider.

Here are 5 reasons why they think that way.

1) Free up your IT department to innovate

One of the advantages of the cloud is that it unburdens your IT department from faffing with hardware and lets them focus on directly contributing to business value.