Red Cross last upgraded its IT in 2002


in brief The Australian Red Cross last upgraded its IT infrastructure ten years ago, it has been reported in the wake of news that the organisation will receive a $10 million grant from Microsoft to modernise its infrastructure. Computerworld quotes the organisation’s director of IT, Warren Don (click here for the full article):

“the organisation’s previous investment in technology had been minimal, with the last rebuild conducted between 1998 and 2002 … previously, users were working on what Don describes as “old mainframe technology” with Citrix terminals around the country and old versions of Microsoft Office”

Microsoft has issued a media release, available online here, with further information about its donation to the Red Cross. Some quotes from the organisation’s chief executive, Robert Tickner:

“Our focus is delivering humanitarian programs, not just in times of disaster, but every day to support those who are most vulnerable. In the past, our investment in technology infrastructure has been set at minimal levels to keep our humanitarian programs running, which means that we have lagged behind the rest of world. This grant will enable us to update our technology platforms significantly, which in its most basic terms will increase our ability to do what we do best and help more people.”

Now, I’ve seen some old IT environments in my time, but … 1998 to 2002? That’s at least a decade, and perhaps 14 years ago. I shudder to think what gremlins are lurking within the Red Cross’ desktop and network infrastructure, let alone in its datacentre. Sounds like a bit of a fixer upper. We wouldn’t be surprised to find that the organisation was still using version 5 of Lotus Notes. After all, that was the latest release until late 2002.


  1. This isn’t terribly surprising. Having worked with a number of 3rd sector organisations, they usually run their tech on the sniff of a not-very-oily rag as their priorities almost always lie elsewhere.

    So too, budgets are rarely very good. Most money goes to paying wages (at pretty miserable rates in comparison to other sectors) and actually doing the stuff the organisation is supposed to do.

  2. I read somewhere a few years ago that Red Cross has the best ratio of the amount donated going to their constituents of any charity (globally) something like >98%. They deserve any support they can get!

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