Handicap International deploys Open Source IT solutions in the field thanks to Bull
The international non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to help disabled people, Handicap International, is involved in many emergency situations and implements development programs in almost 60 countries worldwide.
To respond to the need for a structured approach to computerizing its missions in the field, beyond the use of isolated laptops, Handicap International wanted to develop an IT solution that would facilitate collaborative working and ensure data security. The main challenges were dealing with hostile environments (in terms of temperature, humidity, etc.), the requirement for an extremely simple system to meet the needs of local teams with no IT expertise, and need for a very cost-effective solution.
The answer that Bull provided, integrated and continues to support is the ‘NGOBOX’: a Linux and Open Source-based infrastructure contained in a single, highly robust ‘black box’, including two redundant Linux servers, network-attached storage (NAS), a mail server, print server, file server, LDAP directory, anti-spam and anti-virus measures, and a firewall, amongst other things. The NGOBOX provides a base-station to which up to 16 user workstations can be connected, and to which additional features can easily be added, such as Voice-over-IP, Intranet, application servers, a distributed OpenOffice software suite, charging via solar panels, satellite Internet connections, and access to future ERP/CRM applications that Handicap International may introduce (also based on Open Source solutions such as Compiere). A veritable all-terrain IT ‘Jeep’ for the workgroup in the field, the NGOBOX was successfully tested in Vietnam and Cambodia in June 2006. The solution is currently being rolled out to Handicap International missions in ten countries: China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Maldives, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast, Burundi, Angola and Colombia.