By Charles Bikhazi,, head of development, Help for Heroes
Founded in 2007, Help for Heroes is a relatively young, fast-growing charity. Our aim is to provide an enduring national network of support to British servicemen, servicewomen and veterans. To do this we rely on the generosity of the public.
We receive support in many ways; two of which are direct donations and proceeds from our online shop. Our main website is an important channel for raising awareness and taking donations. This of course means that the performance of our online properties is vital to our funding and our work. We learned just how vital earlier this year, when we had a sudden tenfold increase in visitors overnight.
Before this event, our main website, ecommerce site and related databases ran on a dedicated platform hosted and managed by Rackspace. This had worked perfectly well, but wasn’t geared for an unprecedented avalanche of online visitors.
We’ve always had outstanding support from Rackspace, yet its Fanatical Support truly comes into its own when you’re in need. Our Rackspace support teams in the UK and US went over and above any expectations we had when demand spiked that night. In a matter of hours we had a stripped-down version of the website on public cloud servers in a load-balanced environment, and could continue receiving support from people.
The colossal demand we experienced, however, was a wake-up call for us. We knew that our organization was entering a new stage of development, and we had to implement a long-term solution to manage similar demand spikes and set us up for future growth.
That’s why we’re in the process of deploying a Rackspace Hybrid Cloud solution that incorporates public cloud and dedicated servers working in combination. It’s the best platform for our specific requirements. The former hosts our web servers and provides the scalability to accommodate sudden data peaks at any time. Our database applications and ecommerce platform will be hosted on the latter to ensure their performance, resilience and security. Our hybrid cloud will work as a unified platform linked by a single network powered by RackConnect.
Most recently, we finished building the clustered database for our main website, after migrating to the Rackspace public cloud. The Rackspace team continues to help us with the entire process, and we know that with such Fanatical Support we have experts and specialists available when we need them and we’ll be able to keep innovating.
Overall, the Rackspace Hybrid Cloud will help us ensure optimal performance and resilience of our websites and databases cost-effectively. With it in place, we’ll be in a strong position to manage future peaks and ongoing growth in online activity, as well as more donations and other offers of support. Ultimately, this will enable us to fulfill our core objective and help even more British servicemen and women over time.
This is a guest post written and contributed by Charles Bikhazi, head of development at Help for Heroes, a Rackspace Hybrid Cloud customer. Help for Heroes is a major UK charity that supports servicemen, servicewomen and veterans who have been wounded in Britain’s current conflicts. It’s also an innovator in the UK charity sector with its adoption of hybrid cloud technologies.