Cost-cutting, social media, cloud hosting: All in a day's work for Amnesty International's IT dept

Interview: Head of IT Kamesh Patel on how tech is supporting the cause of global human rights...

...Claranet's private cloud infrastructure - which will help it better cope with spikes in demand for the website during popular campaigns - the organisation plans to build on this foundation with a new Amnesty International website set to go live by the end of 2011.

"It's really the beginning of something we will continue to develop further. Amnesty is currently engaging in redeveloping its website and so this platform with Claranet is really the underpinning piece which will enable that to happen well," Patel told

Cloud computing and software as a service

Hosting is not the only piece of Amnesty's technology that relies on the cloud. The organisation is using software-as-a-service tech from MessageLabs for email security and other services.

However, Patel said the organisation is yet to decide whether the financial and efficiency benefits are sufficient to move other inhouse systems to cloud-based technology.

"Because we're a cost centre, essentially we need to ensure there's either an efficiency saving or there is a benefit back to the organisation that takes away the need to have such a system inhouse," Patel said.

"We're constantly looking around, we're always interested in what's out there in terms of cloud computing and inadvertently we use cloud computing for various pieces of stuff - not very heavily, but we do, like virtually every organisation out there," he said.

Cloud may be a consideration, but more traditional tech priorities are never far from Patel's mind. "About a year and a half ago we completed our business continuity and disaster recovery plan which we continually test to make sure that no matter what the event is the organisation continues to run its critical systems and teams," Patel said.

And while for most companies managing costs is a key area of focus, it's an especially important one for a charitable organisation.

"Pretty much every month we're looking at producing savings from every aspect of the organisation, whether it's IT or marketing or campaigns, we're always looking at making savings through various means," Patel said.

"We have contracts going under tender, we look to push providers to provide more for either the same or less on an ongoing basis and we always question why there are increases. Those are the only real ways we can do it," he added.