Red Cross ensures IT stability

Red Cross ensures IT stability

Charity gets faster data recovery as part of new business continuity plan

The British Red Cross has updated its business continuity systems to ensure that critical applications and information are available to support the charity’s fundraising and disaster recovery work.

A packaged service from supplier Capital Continuity replaces the previous “patchy” process ­ which took 24 to 48 hours to recover data ­ and now takes 30 minutes to one hour to retrieve information.

“We cannot afford to have slow recovery processes when fundraisers are working as fast as they can to bring in donations. We have set dates for the collection of direct debit contributions, so system stability is a must,” said Red Cross head of IT Miguel Fiallos.

The charity needs to be able to recover its fundraising system, booking database for first-aid training, medical loans data, as well as human resources and volunteers systems, an intranet and a messaging and tracking database for missing people.

“Given the critical nature of these applications, there is a real threat that systems downtime would affect our ability to respond in the event of a disaster, such as the London bombings or the tsunami of 2004,” said Fiallos.

Trials for the integrated platform, which is now fully implemented, started in August following a long process that involved Fiallos convincing the organisation of the importance of a resilient business continuity plan, and of finding the right supplier at the right price.

“Once we found a product that matched our needs and budget, we moved on to risk
assessment and discovered that there would be a lot of opportunities to roll it out across other areas of the IT infrastructure,” said Fiallos.

With 350,000 donors on the database generating £80m per year, and information such as names, addresses and financial records dating back 10 years, the charity is looking at other strategies it could employ to manage data efficiently.

Future plans include extending the new platform to the online donations system and the new Red Cross fundraising database, which is part of an integrated customer relationship package, scheduled to go live in September.