American Red Cross: When Disasters Don’t Stop at 5 P.M.

Founded by Clara Barton in 1881, in Washington, D.C., the American Red Cross today is a nationwide network consisting of nearly 270 chapters and 36 blood service regions. It is the nation’s frontline when it comes to disaster relief. Yet, like many long-standing organizations, the American Red Cross is increasingly challenged by outmoded, legacy computer systems. To solve this problem and ensure that it continues delivering its life-saving services, in the most effective and efficient ways possible, the organization is implementing a comprehensive digital workspace solution.

Bringing Mobility to a Mobile Organization

The mission of the Red Cross makes it, almost by definition, a mobile organization. But as Dave Bullamore, the organization’s vice president for end-user services, says, “The technology wasn’t really mobile.” When volunteers responded to an emergency, they often arrived with their own personal digital devices. The Red Cross realized it had to, as Bullamore says, “provide flexibility and choice and not restrict people to one corporate-provided asset” for communications and coordination on-site.

What I love about the Red Cross is the mission to alleviate and prevent human suffering . . . and it drives us to provide the right technology.

Dave Bullamore, Vice President, End-User Services, American Red Cross

In 2015, the Red Cross began implementing a digital workspace solution to allow its staff and volunteers to access any of its applications, data, and related resources—from anywhere, from any device, at any time. As Bullamore says, “This is especially important, not only for employees, but for volunteers who respond to an emergency. It enables them to use their own devices.”

The digital workspace seamlessly integrates and supports the organization’s many legacy and service-based applications developed for chapters around the United States. The automation built into the solution provides another major benefit by allowing the Red Cross to deliver applications and provision new hardware faster and more efficiently than before.

Delivering Comfort in the Worst of Times

“It was always a real challenge going into a site,” says Michael Spencer, one of the organization’s technology leads. “Now I can go in, log in, and have my desktop right in front of me. It’s really changed how we deploy technology.”

The organization’s digital workspace solution, powered by VMware Workspace ONE, is a unified platform that combines VMware vSphere® for virtualization in data centers with VMware Horizon® Enterprise, VMware App Volumes, and VMware User Environment Manager to provide virtual apps and desktops with single sign-on. “It doesn’t matter what operating system you have,” says Chris Moore, lead solutions architect. “All you need is a browser to get to the latest versions of applications. It doesn’t matter what browser it is. We had a mantra that we’re going to make this available to any device, anywhere.”

“What I love about the Red Cross,” Bullamore concludes, “is the mission to alleviate and prevent human suffering, and I get a real sense of that when I talk to the volunteers in our organization. That’s really rewarding, and it drives us to provide the right technology, to help us provide services to people at the worst time in their lives.” And that is just as rewarding to VMware, the proud partner of the American Red Cross in its care-giving and life-saving mission.