Managing company data involves more than just stable network architecture. Outsourcing data storage means putting trust in a company to keep mission-critical applications up and running. For not-for-profits, it means all of those issues plus turning to service providers for effective economies of scale.
This was a challenge once faced by Toronto-based TakingITGlobal (TIG), an online forum that encourages youth to take progressive action in their communities, both locally and globally. Co-founded in 2000 by Jennifer Corriero and Michael Furdyk, TIG operates as a multilingual, multicultural site with over five million users around the world and an average of 2.2 million hits per day.
As a charitable organization, TIG’s data management needs require cost-effective solutions. Constant uptake of new members and bandwidth-heavy projects continually place pressure on TIG to meet new network access demands. By 2002, TIG had grown to the point where it had to make what one analyst calls the “make-or-buy” decision around the organization’s future network infrastructure.
“If they don’t have the internal capabilities, such as facilities or people, then outsourcing has to be one of the alternatives they look,” says Mark Schrutt, research manager for strategic outsourcing at IDC Canada.
Furdyk says TIG began the process to find an outsourcing service in order to manage its growth.
“Originally, we just had one server and then we got quite a lot of traffic increase, so we were looking for different solutions to manage that growth,” says Furdyk, director of technology for TIG.
TIG took on the services of Mississauga, Ont.-based Fusepoint Managed Services Inc. Fusepoint, offered TIG firewall security, data back-up, Web monitoring, and bandwidth solutions.
“The main thing that has been critically important for us is firewall services. There have been some attempts to hack into our servers and there’s been a bunch of intrusion detections and [Fusepoint] helped us deal with it before they become issues,” says Furdyk.
“They’ve really been great in terms of providing support especially since we’re a charity,” he says.
Fusepoint calls not-for-profits a “niche growth market” that has some unique challenges.
“Their applications have increased in importance over the years as they leverage technology to gain and retain members and also raise funding online,” says George Kerns, president and CEO of Fusepoint.
Kerns says Fusepoint provides TIG with managed cabinets with dual power feeds, four incoming bandwidth providers, data back-up and restore services, and a combination of HP Proliant and Dell PowerEdge server technology.
“All the servers have their own storage, so we’re not using a RAID storage solution as a separate device. We back all that up so they help us manage the back-up processes, storing all our data offsite,” Furdyk says.
Kerns also says security is paramount when it comes to organizations of all stripes in managing sensitive, private data. Both he and Schrutt think security has a key role in driving companies to outsourcing firms, simply because the resources to realize high-end security plans aren’t usually available to a client.
“When it comes to disaster recovery, it’s better to look outside and it steps up responsibility, but you can’t outsource responsibility,” Schrutt says.
Furdyk says Fusepoint’s services have helped TIG meet the needs of its global audience.
“One of the big issues with us is connectivity globally. A few years ago when we just had the one server, were complaining about load times, but now we’ve implemented a few things that really help us. We’re now up to 10 servers.”