Action for Children charity selects Rackspace to tackle big data challenges

By Sooraj Shah
17 Jan 2013 View Comments
stephen fry

UK charity Action for Children has chosen cloud provider Rackspace to tackle its big data challenges and scale up its IT infrastructure on demand.

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In an interview with Computing, the charity's digital communications data scientist, Darren Robertson, explained that the charity needed to find a hosting company as it moved away from a shared server.

"We had our hosting combined with our web development agency on a shared server with other charities, which was OK for a while, but if we ever wanted to change the web development agency we would have to move the website. This triggered us into finding an independent hosting company that we could set up our website with," he said.

In addition, the charity had to deal with large spikes in traffic. For example, when Stephen Fry tweeted about the website, five million of his followers were encouraged to visit the website.

"This could bring down our website, and was very expensive. We used to take a image of the website and put it onto another dedicated server a couple of days before [an anticipated traffic spike], then there are a couple of days when that traffic spike is happening and then it takes another couples of days to pull [the image] across," Robertson explained.

"What we loved about Rackspace's offering was that we could spin up an instance or as many instances as we needed and only had to pay for what we needed, and then easily turn that back down to a normal state afterwards," he added.

The charity did look at several other large players in the industry but Rackspace was chosen because of its customer service and support.

"They are fanatical about what they do and their customer service is absolutely brilliant. No matter what time it is we can get hold of somebody to help us. Rackspace gave us all the support we needed and the architects helped us to understand what we needed to do and how we needed to do it," Robertson said.

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