Oxfam’s Nick Mitrovic explains how the international aid organisation has seen real benefits from its cloud migration – letting them serve vulnerable people more effectively
“Unlike many other organisations, Oxfam can’t predict when the next disaster will happen and when we need to ramp up or deploy new systems” says Nick Mitrovic, CTO of the charity. Technology staff at charities, government bodies, international organisations and some private sector firms know this scenario all too well. When disaster strikes, a co-ordinated response is needed fast. “At any given time, on average, our teams are responding to more than 20 emergencies worldwide.”
This demand for rapid response to unpredictable situations was a large part of the reason that Oxfam decided to initiate a migration of the charity’s infrastructure to the cloud. In the past, the organisation’s IT teams found themselves continually fighting fires, while also dealing with the pressure to save money. The cloud just made sense: “Oxfam is very cost conscious as every pound we save goes to someone in need. With public cloud we pay only for what we use, when we use it.”
Oxfam completed their ten-month migration to Microsoft’s Azure in Dec 2017 and the results have been impressive. “In the first year we had 32 percent increase in regular giving, a 22 percent increase in online sales, our customer journeys in key applications were more than 50 percent faster and at the same time we managed to reduce our Azure costs by 20 percent.” Besides these headline figures, Mitrovic points to the deeper benefits of going ‘cloud first’: “it enabled Oxfam to be a more agile organisation and to develop new capabilities.”
Mitrovic will describe Oxfam’s successful migration in detail at London’s Cloud Expo Europe conference this March. What can similar organisations learn from the charity’s experience?
Organisations like Oxfam face a series of specific challenges when it comes to technology. The charity has a global mission, with country offices across the world as well as staff at disaster locations who all need to connect with a secure central IT environment. At the same time, they must run all the standard support technologies that any large organisation requires, such as HR, finance and logistics. Lastly, they generate income through donations and payment systems and a nationwide network of bricks and mortar charity shops.