WWF Australia: Even non-profits need smooth-running IT

After its donated IT kit reached its end-of-life, WWF Australia turned to Veeam.

WWF Australia has a challenging brief down under; it aims to conserve biodiversity in the country and throughout the Oceania region. Although part of global network, the local arm of the organisation raises funds and spends that funding in Australia -- which means it needs to justify every cost.

Although a not-for-profit organisation, WWF Australia IT manager Semir Hasanbegovic told ZDNet that WWF Australia is just like any other business; it still needs to raise money and it still needs to make sure its back-office operates smoothly.

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When the Australian organisation was stood up, WWF was lucky enough to receive free kit from a now market-dominating vendor; they donated their software and support services.

However, when the tech came to its end-of-life, the donation arrangement wasn't continued, and WWF was required to pay full-price.

According to Hasanbegovic, the vendor that originally supplied the kit was in its early days in Australia and the arrangement worked well until the vendor got big enough that it could push its market dominance around.

"They essentially couldn't extend that any more in 2012-13 -- they wouldn't extend the free support," Hasanbegovic said. "The solution was quite cumbersome and it was a little bit of an overkill for us, so when it came time to do a renewal for support and to buy new licences, it was very expensive."

The end of the agreement coincided with WWF coming to the end-of-life of its current server hardware kit, so it went to tender to see who could help replace everything in the most cost-effective way. As part of that, the organisation looked into general backup and recovery, and found Veeam.

"Once we came to the hardware refresh cycle, Veeam was the best solution," Hasanbegovic explained.

"[Continuing with the previous vendor] also didn't make sense for an organisation of our size -- we're not that big in terms of IT -- Veeam was perfect for that small to medium-sized enterprise and the cost was accessible."

WWF Australia comprises around 110 official staff, with a lot of volunteers also requiring access to the network. Hasanbegovic is one of only two IT-focused staff in the Australian operation.

"From an IT perspective, the organisation might have about 150 people to take care of," he said. "It's a reasonably small team -- we're also spread around Australia, including in capital cities and more remote locations such as Cairns."

As a result, he said it's important for the organisation to partner.

"The solutions we choose are pretty much always off-the-shelf; something that's easy to use, but also potentially has a lot of easy to get expertise outside of the organisation if we don't have time to gain expertise fast enough -- we need to be able to get external resources at a reasonable rate," he added.

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