Nonprofit Enterprise at Work – A Virtualized Desktop Case Study
After working with their nonprofits, NEW discovered that many of their small and medium-sized clients did not have the funding or resources for IT equipment or staff to operate effectively in a technology-driven business landscape. In fact, many nonprofits did not even have access to the Internet nor did they have basic office functions like email, shared files, secure data backup or remote access.
As a way to provide nonprofits essential technology support and infrastructure, NEW developed the program, npServ. npServ helps nonprofits cut IT costs, operate more efficiently and stay focused on their missions. “The idea behind npServ is to go into an organization, install relatively unique IT systems and manage them remotely from our locations,” says Neel Hajra, NEW President and CEO.
The npServ program is essentially a virtualized desktop platform using a combination of open source office technologies hosted at Online Tech’s SAS-70 certified data centers. The open source desktop virtualization uses older, cost effective desktops to connect through a portal to the hosted servers. Nonprofits can avoid purchasing expensive workstations and having to replace hardware when it becomes obsolete by moving to npServ’s thin client devices. With npServ, a single server hosted at Online Tech runs all of the different working environments for all of their clients’ workstations. Plus, the thin client model reduces NEW’s maintenance costs and makes it easier to support their customers remotely. NEW is able to serve more nonprofits and support them at a price point lower than they expect to pay for other IT services.
While developing npServ, NEW realized that they would need an enterprise-level server infrastructure to support the program. npServ would require a centralized server in a secure data center for all of their nonprofit’s data to be backed up and stored. With these technical requirements, NEW realized that they had to go beyond the usual nonprofit “mom and pop” solution. They would require a managed server with 24x7 support.
“We knew that we needed a world class data center with world class service and support and Online Tech is the leading managed data center operator in Michigan,” says Hajra. Through a generous grant, Online Tech agreed to provide managed dedicated servers and back-up services to NEW and their nonprofits.
NEW recently aided a Detroit-area nonprofit who had been without email for a week and no access to their server. It had become nearly impossible for this organization to continue to serve their community without access to documents and email.
“As we started troubleshooting and eventually added them to our Linux thin client program, we learned that data security was a sensitive issue for the organization. Not only was there data that needed to be HIPAA compliant, but like many nonprofits, there was staff turnover creating an increasingly difficult challenge in maintaining institutional memory,” says Linh Song, Director of npServ. Installing a fileserver with different permissions was a first step for the organization. But more importantly, this organization needed to make sure their critical data was saved and secure offsite. NEW was able to get this organization back up and running and set them up in Online Tech’s secure HIPAA compliant data center.
“It is nice to work with experts in the field who are the best in the business,” says Hajra. “From Yan Ness (Online Tech’s CEO) down to the support staff our team works with, we get treated like every one of other Online Tech’s clients even though we are a relatively small nonprofit. We have been really happy with the support and it has given us the confidence to expand and grow knowing we have a strong data center partnership backing us up.” In fact, Hajra has found that when NEW talks with potential nonprofit partners they are always reassured that npServ is supported by a world class managed data center operator like Online Tech.
ABOUT NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work)
NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work) is a management support organization that helps nonprofits succeed by strengthening nonprofit management and offering solutions to issues facing the nonprofit community. Since its founding in 1993, NEW has developed and delivered programming to meet the changing needs for 600 nonprofits across southeast Michigan. NEW currently offers four programs to their nonprofit customers including npServ,™ a shared IT services platform.