American International Health Alliance

Going Virtual: How A Nonprofit Organization Overcame Physical Location Challenges By Moving to the Cloud

Background:

American International Health Alliance (AIHA) is an international nonprofit organization working to advance global health through locally driven, locally owned, and locally sustainable health systems strengthening and human resources for health interventions. AIHA’s mission is to help resource-constrained communities and nations make positive, holistic, and sustainable changes that improve health outcomes. Since 1992, AIHA has supported more than 170 partnerships and other capacity building initiatives in 34 countries around the globe.

Challenges:

AIHA was in the process of moving its Washington, D.C. headquarters to a new office space. The move, however, was complicated by uncertainties in the construction schedule and the actual move-in date. With operations around the world, it was essential for AIHA to keep all of its computer systems up and running at all times. There could be no downtime, no interruption of services – a situation further complicated by the fact that AIHA relied on several third parties to provide interconnectivity, high-speed bandwidth, and other infrastructure services.

  • As a nonprofit, AIHA also had concerns about the costs involved in potentially investing in new hardware and a sufficiently high level of security to prevent external hacks.
  • AIHA wanted to make certain that any new business tools it employed would deliver a positive end-user experience.

Goal:

AIHA needed to make certain that all of its systems would operate effectively and without interruption, regardless of any complications or delays caused by the organization’s physical move to new office space. In addition, all infrastructure upgrades had to be made in a cost-effective manner and with an eye toward enhanced security.

Solutions:

ATS worked closely with AIHA to:

  • Move the entire infrastructure to Amazon’s AWS where AIHA retained eight virtual servers, recommending a cost effective site-to-site VPN connection.
  • Build servers for AIHA in AWS from scratch, moving the data over a long weekend, ensuring optimal business continuity;
  • Establish a backup and disaster recovery system using MozyPro, a cloud based solution that supports replication from anywhere.

Results:

Shifting to a cloud-based environment enabled ATS to create a seamless, secure, and cost-effective solution for AIHA that guaranteed business continuity. Operating in a virtual environment allowed AIHA to:

  • Be more agile and flexible, without concerns about hardware or physical space;
  • Have 24/7 access to the files, data, and email anytime, anywhere, from any devices, anywhere in the world;
  • Boost productivity, flexibility, and collaboration among members of the AIHA team working around the globe.

Initial estimates showed a conservative cost savings of 10-15% over current operations on premise, but after deployment, the actual savings was more than 35% below current costs.