NSW Centre for Volunteering helped by technology donation

A new infrastructure, which was donated by EMC, has helped the NSW Centre for Volunteering increase the speed of its operations, as well as establish the foundation for a number of new initiatives.

A technology donation by EMC, in partnership with its local distributor, Ingram Micro, and partner, Always Up IT, has helped the NSW Centre for Volunteering speed up its operations and create a foundation for a possible national volunteer database.

The donation saw the implementation of the EMC VSPEX Proven infrastructure by Always Up IT during the first half of 2013. The infrastructure compromised of two Cisco unified computing system C200 M2 servers, VMware vSphere server virtualisation, EMC Unisphere storage management, and an EMC VNXe 3100 storage system. It replaced the Centre for Volunteering's Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011, which ran on a Dell hardware with SCSI storage drives.

As a result, the Centre for Volunteering saw a dramatic increase in application speeds. For example, remote connections saw a 200 percent speed increase, while programs that were regular used, such as Microsoft Word and Outlook, opened 400 percent faster.

NSW Centre for Volunteering chief executive Lynne Dalton said the results were immediately noticeable.

"From my perspective, as a user, I immediately noticed we weren't crashing. Being a charity and not having any spare money, it was something we ended up tolerating," she explained.

"I live 120km from Sydney and it enabled me to work remotely and not worry about the lack of access from the system. It was always reliable, always efficient, and it was a real burgeon for me that I was able to work from home."

The infrastructure update has also helped the Centre of Volunteering form the basis for a range of other initiatives, such as the creation of a NSW-wide database of 40,000 volunteers, which the organisation hopes will become a platform for a national database. Currently, a list of available volunteers has to be re-created each time it is needed.

"The government wants to find out more about volunteers in Australia. This includes who is volunteering, what tasks they are performing, where they live, where they participate in volunteering, how old they are, and what skills they have. At the moment, every time there is an emergency, we need to gather all that information again," said David Fisher Dobbin, the NSW Centre for Volunteering development manager.

"If we can use the infrastructure to build a system that allows us to know at any time how many volunteers are available, there has to be a benefit to the community when there are extreme weather events or threats."

The technology is also expected to support an upgrade of The Centre for Volunteering’s training capabilities. Through its partnership with Clubs NSW, the Centre is considering stepping up its training courses that are delivered through the systems available in individual clubs.

Dalton concluded that an efficient system can make a difference to how an organisation operates.

"Like most, we haven't got a lot of money but if you're going to save up for anything, forget the new chair or the new kitchen, and invest in new technology because it's going to drive your ability to actually operate more efficiently, effectively, and make maximum use of the funds you've got," she said.

"Also, it enables you manage your clients better so you're able to offer a service that is going to give you a return. If you run an efficient service people are going to look at that in terms of reputation and are more likely going to consider for grants because they'd want an efficient organisation."

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