From collecting research to presenting data internationally, SkySync enables world-wide collaboration for non-profit Innovations for Poverty Action.
It works flawlessly and is totally transparent to people in the field. All they know is that they have ready access to the data they need, even in challenging environments. Together, Box and SkySync enable us to truly collaborate globally. We also see this helping us long-term as there are myriad use-cases that are applicable for SkySync.Niall Keleher, Senior Director, Research Methods and Knowledge Management - Innovations for Poverty Action
WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP NON-PROFITS DO WHAT THEY DO
When two companies as synergistic as Box® and Portal Architects get together to help non-profit organizations help make the world a better place, only good things can happen. Box recently established Box.org, a program designed to provide its cloud services to nonprofit organizations across the country at a highly discounted cost. Likewise, Portal Architects, the creators of SkySync® platform file synchronization technology, is mirroring those discounts. Both companies are dedicated to helping these groups gain a higher level of data access and collaborative ability.
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is an organization devoted to addressing global poverty through research and translating evidence to action. Its research studies investigate solutions for effective agriculture, education, health, finance, governance, social protection, and post-conflict recovery. Headquartered in New Haven, CT, the IPA supports work in 17 countries, where it routinely consults with governments, foundations, and non-governmental organizations. Since its founding, the results of IPA’s research have improved the lives of over 50 million people around the world.
Performing the research and outreach IPA does around the world depends on connectivity: to people, data, and process. Whether it’s with researchers collecting data on the ground in an African village or arranging the analysis of these data across numerous sites, the process requires an enormous amount of data sharing and collaboration. Policymakers, academics, social action organizations and funding sources scattered across the globe are all important allies in what IPA does. Its business model depends on centralized oversight and control as well as consistent, two-way access to information amongst all of these stakeholders.
IPA’s challenge is orchestrating the high level of collaboration required for their success across a multi-national landscape that has inconsistent access to technology and internet connectivity and where various partners may employ different networking methods. Niall Keleher is IPA’s Senior Director, Research Methods and Knowledge Management and is in charge of the organization’s approach to research data collection. Niall explained that up until recently, IPA relied on a SharePoint® infrastructure and that most data sharing and distributed was done via e-mail. “We had to make a serious change to enable better collaboration,” explained Niall. “We completely transitioned from a SharePoint® environment to Box® because we think it offers the best, most efficient way we can securely store, access and collaborate with our data. SkySync enables IPA to retain the connection with SharePoint in order to permit collaboration with our partner organization.”
Niall continued, “The challenge was to be able to sync with a variety of different data infrastructures and cloud services. This requires a lot of complex data handshaking and translation between systems,” Niall explained. “Also, the issue of inconsistent, part-time or low speed Internet access out in the field was huge. If a file transfer to or from Box was interrupted as often happens at remote field offices, it would require starting that transmission over. Sometimes just the size of a file is the issue. For example, a 50 or 100GB data set can simply outstrip a day’s data access time. These were major challenges.”
Utilizing Portal Architect’s SkySync file synchronization software together with Box cloud services IPA was able to directly address these issues. “The combination of Box and SkySync gave us the ubiquitous access we had been looking for via the cloud but with the ability to centrally control access, all while seamlessly integrating with a wide variety of existing partner and collaborator storage systems,” explained Niall. “For example, one of our main partners utilizes a SharePoint® infrastructure while many others leverage a variety of other storage platforms. These multi-platform use-cases present complex translation challenges.”
“SkySync completely handles these issues totally in the background,” explained Niall. “In addition, SkySync helped address the problems associated with inconsistent and slow speed Internet access. When a line is dropped, SkySync waits for service to come back on-line then picks up sync transfers right where they left off. This alone has solved a critical problem for us.”
The combination of Box® and SkySync® provided a cloud distribution strategy that helps IPA accomplish its goals. “It works flawlessly and is totally transparent to people in the field. All they know is that they have ready access to the data they need, even in challenging environments,” commented Niall. “Together, Box and SkySync enable us to truly collaborate globally,” he said. “We also see this helping us long-term as there are myriad use-cases that are applicable for SkySync.”
WORKING WITH PORTAL ARCHITECTS, creators of SkySync
Working with SkySync to get the software up and running is something that Niall described as a great experience. “The Portal Architects’ team was incredibly helpful through the entire process,” said Niall. “They were amazingly responsive and put in a lot of effort and helped us at every turn, from testing through implementation. The software itself does exactly what it’s supposed to do. We couldn’t be more pleased.”