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Help for Heroes picks hybrid cloud to optimise databases and website

Archana Venkatraman

UK charity Help for Heroes is to build hybrid cloud infrastructure to improve its websites and databases.

The charity, which provides support for wounded soldiers, was formed in 2007 and relies on public donations to fund its work – so its website and database resources are vital.

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The IT efficiency gained from the hybrid cloud platform will help it better serve more British armed forces and veterans, according to the charity.

Help for Heroes has picked open-cloud company Rackspace to build the cloud platform.

Prior to the cloud project, the charity’s main website, ecommerce site and related databases ran on a dedicated platform hosted and managed by Rackspace.

The traditional IT arrangement worked well for Help for Heroes until earlier this year when it experienced a sudden ten-fold increase in visitors overnight to both its main website and its online shop. The IT team realised it needed a more resilient infrastructure to handle the growing strain on its online applications.

When online demand jumped overnight, the team approached Rackspace’s support staff to help it cope with the demand on its IT.

“In a matter of hours we had a stripped-down version of the website on public cloud servers in a load-balanced environment,” said Charles Bikhazi, head of development at Help for Heroes.

Building IT for the future

After seeing the benefits of having a cloud platform as a short-term and quick solution to manage demand spikes, IT at Help for Heroes decided to start building an infrastructure for the future.

The charity is deploying a Rackspace Hybrid Cloud solution that includes a public cloud platform, to provide the agility to accommodate sudden data peaks at any time, as well as dedicated servers. These will host its database applications and e-commerce platform and ensure their performance, resilience and security.

This hybrid-cloud solution is designed to work as a unified platform linked by a single network powered by RackConnect.

“The colossal demand we experienced earlier in the year was a wake-up call for us,” Bikhazi said. “We depend on the generous British public for our work, with almost 100% of donations going to servicemen, servicewomen and veterans, and proceeds from our online shop going towards our overheads.

“Any downtime means we may miss out on this vital income, the hybrid cloud is therefore mission-critical.”

According to Bikhazi, the migration to the Rackspace public cloud is complete, and building the clustered database for its main website is “progressing well”, which will end up in a true hybrid solution.

“Help for Heroes is a positive force for so many people in Britain, and an innovator in the charity sector with its adoption of cloud technologies,” said Jeff Cotten, managing director of Rackspace International.

“With the hybrid cloud, Help for Heroes is now in a strong position to manage future peaks and ongoing growth in online activity, as well as more donations and other offers of support.”


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