Founded in 1940, the Baptist Foundation of Alabama administers more than $250 million in gifts that benefit Christian ministries around the world. In addition to managing these resources as effectively as possible, the foundation provides estate planning services for churches and individuals.
When you work in a smaller organization, you tend to wear many hats. That was certainly the case for Rodney Bledsoe. In addition to his work as chief development officer at the foundation, he often found himself managing the foundation’s day-to-day IT needs. “I was a computer programmer before I went to law school, so I’ve always enjoyed that kind of work,” he says. “But I’m not an IT expert by any means. And the simple fact is that I can’t do my primary job if I’m spending all my time loading software updates.”
In addition to the ongoing administrative burden, security was a growing concern. The Baptist Foundation of Alabama is a financial services organization with client data similar to a typical bank trust department. But with people traveling around the country to meet with investment managers and staff based outside the home office, some team members were relying on less-than-secure methods to store and transfer files. “In some cases, people would keep local copies of files on their laptops,” says Bledsoe. “That made us a little too vulnerable from a client data perspective.”
When it came time to replace the foundation’s servers, Bledsoe began considering another way of doing things. “Our servers were aging fast, and replacing them was going to be a huge expense,” he says. “It was clearly time for us to try something else.”
As Bledsoe began looking at other options, he sat down with TekLinks, a Citrix Service Provider and integrated solutions provider based in Birmingham, Alabama. TekLinks suggested trying its TekVDI hosted desktop solution, which uses Citrix-based technologies for Desktops-as-a-Service to deliver a secure workspace experience directly from the cloud. All data is secured and monitored out of the TekLinks datacenter, enabling workers to run applications and access individualized desktops from anywhere without being restricted to a specific device. “We trusted TekLinks’ recommendation on this one,” says Bledsoe. “They assured us it was a good solution, and after performing our thorough due diligence we decided to move forward. And I’m really glad we did.”
Today, all 15 employees at the foundation can conveniently and securely access critical desktop applications—everything from Microsoft Office to specialized tax and accounting software—using the TekVDI solution. “If I’m going on an estate planning visit, I have access to all my files, just like I would in the office,” says Bledsoe. “Just as important, I can use a personal device like a home laptop, iPad or smartphone to access my files as well, and I don’t have to worry about compromising the security of our clients’ data. That’s been especially helpful for one of our staff members who is a new mom because it’s easy for her to work from home on her own computer.”
Weather can cause major disruptions for any business. For the Baptist Foundation of Alabama, the most significant weather threat often comes in the form of a tornado. But with Citrix technology, the foundation is in a much better position to recover from any disaster that might come along. “We sometimes conduct thousands of transactions in a single day,” says Bledsoe. “If a tornado hits our headquarters, we can’t just ask for a week off. With this Desktops-as-a-Service technology in place, we don’t need access to our brick-and-mortar building to do business—we can head down to the local Starbucks to complete the necessary transactions.”
Perhaps most importantly, the TekVDI solution has played a key role in simplifying operations, enabling Bledsoe to spend more time on development and estate planning—and less time on IT administration. “Not too long ago, a simple software update could occupy two days’ worth of my time, just doing the same thing 15 or 20 times from one computer to the next,” he says. “Now I can send a quick email to TekLinks and it’s usually done within a matter of minutes.”
Before moving to the TekVDI solution, the Baptist Foundation of Alabama faced a lot of unknown variables when it came to IT costs. That’s simply no longer the case. “You can’t really know the true life of a server,” says Bledsoe. “Before we started working with TekLinks, we always faced the possibility of suddenly needing to replace a server at $5 000 a pop. Now our IT costs are stable and predictable no matter what.”
As the Baptist Foundation of Alabama prepares for future expansion, the TekVDI solution powered by Citrix-based Desktops-as-a-Service technology should prove even more crucial to the foundation’s ongoing success. “Our mission is to manage the funds entrusted to us as efficiently and effectively as possible,” says Bledsoe. “This technology enables us to do that, not only here in Alabama but wherever we happen to be.”
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