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«A decentralized organization that uses shared applications and processes must have a strong digital backbone.»

Thomas Rubatscher, Inter­national Director ICT,
and Oliver Vavtar, Team Leader for Network Services and Project Leader for the SOS Data Highway

About SOS Children’s Village International

Hermann Gmeiner set up the first SOS Children’s Village in Imst, Austria, in 1949. Ever since, SOS Children’s Villages has been an independent, non-governmental development organisation which has been working to meet the needs and protect the rights of children. Active in 134 countries and territories, it works to prevent family breakdown and provide alternative care for children who have lost parental care.

www.sos-childrensvillages.org

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Every day, staff at the organization «SOS Children’s Villages International» work to ensure that children in 134 countries and territories can grow up in a loving, caring family environment. Global networks and the use of standardized applications play an important part in their success. In this interview, Thomas Rubatscher, International Director ICT, and Oliver Vavtar, Team Leader for Network Services and Project Leader for the SOS Data Highway, explain how they and their teams make an important contribution to the organization’s success despite limited resources. 

Mr. Rubatscher, can you give us a quick overview of how SOS Children’s Villages is organized?

Thomas Rubatscher: Our main goal is to be as close as possible to the beneficiary – the child in need. To achieve this, our 134 country subsidiaries and territories work with a great deal of autonomy, in some cases even operating as independent legal bodies with their own boards and statutes. All the national organizations are members of the international umbrella association «SOS Children’s Villages International», which coordinates global initiatives and uses regional offices to support country subsidiaries in the areas of finance, fundraising, IT and communications. 

What are the implications of this decentralized organizational structure for IT?

→ T. R.: A certain degree of global coordination always makes sense in IT. Coherent, universal systems are cheaper to operate and generally easier to manage. Although we have to get by with fairly modest means, we still want to run everything in a professional manner and support our colleagues directly in their work with a reliable, secure and high-performance infrastructure. Nowadays, a stable and secure IT system isn’t just a workplace necessity, it’s also a clear indication that you’re a professional and trustworthy organization. For us, this is especially important, since we’re increasingly involved in collaborations at all levels with external partners fundraising and support associations. Oliver Vavtar: We provide the organization with a range of standardized applications, including databases, specialized accounting and fundraising applications, Office 365, an intranet, and Skype for Business. And how do you guarantee the availability of these applications?

 O. V.: A decentralized organization that uses shared applications and processes must have a strong digital backbone. The SOS Data Highway, which connects the 14 different regional offices, is run with this purpose in mind. The network is based on internet technology and is secure and highly available, ensuring that the applications can be used around the clock. At the same time, we also provide the regional offices with secure local access to the internet.

«Thanks to Open Systems’ operational support, we have the internal resources we need to take care of our core business.»

And how do you guarantee the availability of these applications?

→ O. V.: A decentralized organization that uses shared applications and processes must have a strong digital backbone. The SOS Data Highway, which connects the 14 different regional offices, is run with this purpose in mind. The network is based on internet technology and is secure and highly available, ensuring that the applications can be used around the clock. At the same time, we also provide the regional offices with secure local access to the internet.

You run the SOS Data Highway in collaboration with Open Systems. What were the deciding factors in your choice of partner?

 T. R.: We wanted an integrated solution, which means we needed connectivity, security and a 24x7 service all from the same provider. In our view, that’s the only way to ensure a high-quality network in terms of security, availability and speed

«Nowadays, a stable and secure IT system isn’t just a workplace necessity, it’s also a clear indication that you’re a professional and trustworthy organization.»

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