Friday, January 20, 2012

Avanade: Nonprofit Saves 20 Percent in Data Center Costs with Cloud Solution

Avanade and Accenture expertise reduces migration costs

Business Situation
The Aidmatrix Foundation has developed a global reputation for helping business, nonprofit, and government partners make a difference in the lives of people around the world. When disaster strikes, organizations in charge of providing humanitarian relief—food, clothes, medical supplies—turn to Aidmatrix for its webbased, supply-chain technology. The company’s solutions cover procurement, warehousing, donation management, transportation, and consulting and are built from the ground up with one goal in mind: to help disaster response organizations deliver aid as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. 

Natural and human-caused disasters follow no agenda, so Aidmatrix must be ready at all times to quickly deliver its solutions to partners anywhere in the world. Unlike typical businesses, demand for the nonprofit’s products follows unpredictable spikes interspersed with periods of relative inactivity. During and immediately following a crisis, demand can reach up to 1,000 times the normal rate. Aidmatrix stays prepared by hosting its solutions in three data centers across the United States and one in England.

“We have to maintain a certain level of assets at these data centers to be prepared for any eventuality,” says Michael Ross, Vice President for Delivery at Aidmatrix. “Until recently, outsourcing the management of the physical servers at the data center was an ongoing expense. We paid up front for space and physical infrastructure that we didn’t use all the time. We also paid for server maintenance and for updating our software. We would have preferred to allocate our IT resources toward enhancing our solutions.”

If a crisis occurred where Aidmatrix had no preexisting infrastructure, the company used to go through a long and expensive process of identifying a location to host servers and run its software to help local aid delivery.

Read the full case study from Avanade

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Aidmatrix President & CEO Keynote Speaker at the International Disaster Conference & Expo

Aidmatrix President & CEO Governor Scott McCallum was a keynote speaker at the International Disaster Conference & Expo in New Orleans on January 18th. He also served as Moderator on a panel titled "Public-Private Sector Synergies - Mobilizing International Resources for Global Disaster Aid, Response and Recovery". Panelists include:
  • John "Jock" Menzies (American Logistics Aid Network)
  • Ty Prettyman (AirLink)
  • James Lee Witt (Witt Associates)
  • Dan Stoneking (FEMA Private Sector Office)
  • Ky Luu (Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy)

Read more about IDCE

Accenture: Helping Aidmatrix deliver critical humanitarian relief assistance via the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform

Client Profile
The Aidmatrix Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit organization committed to providing supply chain management, fundraising and volunteer management solutions that, in turn, help relief organizations procure, manage and deliver aid when humanitarian crises arise around the world. More than 40,000 business, nonprofit and government partners use Aidmatrix’s solutions to mobilize more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian relief each year.

Business Challenge
While Aidmatrix had historically managed its applications from third-party data centers in the United States and several other countries, the organization recently decided to move the provisioning of its IT infrastructure to “the cloud.” Aidmatrix believed a cloud-based IT infrastructure would not only lower its operating costs, but also allow it to access additional computing capacity as needed to respond more quickly and effectively to crises anywhere in the world.

Ultimately, Aidmatrix selected Microsoft® Windows® Azure™ as its cloud platform because of its high efficiency, agility and ease of use. Also important was the fact that Windows Azure is hosted at one of six data centers worldwide, meaning that Aidmatrix’s critical applications would almost always be hosted close to a disaster area.

Microsoft, which had helped Aidmatrix develop a proof-of-concept to confirm the appropriateness of the Windows Azure platform, suggested that Accenture and Avanade—an Accenture majority-owned company dedicated to helping clients maximize returns on their Microsoft investments—be engaged to help migrate and integrate a number of critical applications to the new platform. Aidmatrix agreed. In addition to having extensive Windows Azure skills and experience, Accenture brought a deep understanding of the Aidmatrix organization, its technical environment and its business objectives. For nearly 10 years, Accenture had provided technical and consulting services to help the organization chart a course toward high performance. As Michael Ross, Vice President of Delivery at Aidmatrix, noted, “We had a long relationship with Accenture, so we had no questions about the quality of the work that would be delivered or the experience that would be brought to bear.”

Read the full case study

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Microsoft: Organizations Solving the World’s Toughest Problems Turn to Windows Azure

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 12, 2011 — When the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan last March, it took the lives of more than 20,000 people, destroyed or damaged nearly 750,000 buildings, and wiped away virtually all aspects of the region’s critical infrastructure. 

With lives on the line, Dallas-based nonprofit Aidmatrix needed to deliver services immediately to help more than 40 humanitarian organizations throughout the region affected by the disaster. Aidmatrix quickly created a Windows Azure account and got its aid application up and running in two hours. 

The University of Washington Baker Laboratory also works to save lives by developing cures for diseases such as HIV, malaria and anthrax. When scientists at the laboratory needed more computational power for their research on salmonella, they chose Windows Azure for instant access to high-performance computing capabilities and on-demand scalability.

Here are two examples of how academics, scientists and humanitarian organizations are using Windows Azure and the power of the cloud to make an impact around the world. 

(Today, Microsoft is improving Windows Azure with a series of updates to its platform, offering customers greater value, simplicity and interoperability. More details of today’s update can be found in the Windows Azure blog.)

Read the full story

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Trucks For Change Launches New Online Freight Matching Tool

TORONTO, Ont. -- Trucks For Change Network, a nonprofit association of leading Canadian trucking firms helping community charities with donated transportation services, has launched MOVEmatrix, an online freight matching tool developed for the exclusive use of its member trucking and charity partners.

"MOVEmatrix offers our members a quick and secure way to find and respond to charity needs which match their available resources," said Pete Dalmazzi, president and founder of Trucks For Change Network. "It has all the features to become the one-stop transportation marketplace for charitable organizations across Canada."

MOVEmatrix was developed in a partnership between Trucks For Change Network and The Aidmatrix Foundation, a Dallas-based firm specializing in supply chain management technology for humanitarian relief.

Read the full story

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TechSoup App It Up Presents: Apps By and For Nonprofits

Blog entry by agilbertknight, a Technology Analyst for TechSoup

We've talked a lot about mobile apps during the App It Up project. But apps come in many other forms. Browser plug-ins, widgets, web apps, and templates: all of these are apps, too. And they all have the potential to help your organization do its work more efficiently and easily.

That's why we’re excited to highlight two great (non-mobile) apps built by and for nonprofits, over on our App It Up page.

Simplifying Online Fundraising with Aidmatrix

Virtual Aid Drive is a set of web-based online fundraising and donation drive management tools. It's a cloud-based tool, built on the Windows Azure platform. Virtual Aid Drive helps organizations run drives to collect food, books, clothing, and other needed items.

The cool twist? Virtual Aid Drive does away with the collection boxes and shelves full of donated items and replaces them with an easy-to-set-up, easy-to-run online drive.

Virtual Aid Drive was created by Aidmatrix, a nonprofit organization that develops technology, processes, and partnerships to increase the efficiency of gathering and distributing humanitarian aid.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Microsoft Case Study: Humanitarian Aid Provider Uses Cloud Solution to Respond Faster to Global Needs

The Aidmatrix Foundation
Humanitarian Aid Provider Uses Cloud Solution to Respond Faster to Global Needs 

The Aidmatrix Foundation creates web-based supply-chain management solutions that simplify the distribution of humanitarian aid. To meet growing demand for its expertise from partners worldwide, it sought a more cost-effective, scalable method for delivering its solutions. After evaluating several cloud services solutions, the organization selected Windows Azure. It wanted to take advantage of existing skill sets and investments in Microsoft technologies while maximizing the global reach of its services through the use of Microsoft data centers worldwide. Aidmatrix worked closely with Accenture and Avanade, members of the Microsoft Partner Network, to convert three of its standard web applications to cloud services. By adopting Windows Azure, the organization has reduced its data center costs by 20 percent while providing more responsive, scalable service to help those most in need. 

Increasingly, technology plays a vital role in enabling the rapid, targeted distribution of relief supplies to those affected by catastrophic events. Formed in 2001, the Aidmatrix Foundation specializes in developing web-based supply-chain management solutions that make it easier to get the Right Aid to the Right People at the Right Time™.

The organization’s software-as-a-service–based solutions are designed to address the two main challenges of disaster response: the efficient collection of donated materials and the precise matching of those supplies with evolving needs on the ground. To capture and accurately process the maximum number of donor offers, Aidmatrix needs to ensure that its applications can consistently deliver the highest levels of stability and throughput performance. Because Aidmatrix works with so many different kinds of partner organizations, its solutions—most of which are based on Microsoft technologies—need to synchronize with business systems that run on diverse operating system platforms. Also, its applications need to flexibly scale to handle massive bursts in demand. Following several recent natural disasters, Aidmatrix applications have experienced usage spikes on the order of 1,000 times the standard rate.