Oxfam guards Trailwalkers' safety on public cloud

Oxfam adopts Microsoft Azure for Trailwalker website managementOxfam Trailwalker, one of the largest fundraising sporting events in Hong Kong, now runs on public cloud to ensure the safety of thousands of its  participants.

As the three-day 36th Oxfam Trailwalker event kick starts on 17 November 2017, 5,200 Trailwalkers will form teams of four to complete a 100km trail within a 48-hour time limit.

Originated in Hong Kong in 1986, more than 98,000 Oxfam Trailwalker participants have raised over HK$538 million to support Oxfam's poverty alleviation and emergency relief projects in Africa and Asia, including Hong Kong and mainland China. Last year, the event raised HK$34 million in Hong Kong alone. This year, the charity group targets to raise HK$36 million.

Same as the previous years, all Trailwalkers this year are to complete the 100km MacLehose Trail, which runs from Sai Kung to Yuen Long, covering eight country parks in Hong Kong. The Oxfam Trailwalker route comprises nine checkpoints and three control points.

Fulfilling communication needs

"Data transmission is key for all our participants," said Leung Pui Fung (pictured, middle), Oxfam Hong Kong's director of fundraising. To complete the trail successfully, Oxfam needs to facilitate seamless communication among all participants. These include the 5,200 contestants, another 5,200 supporters who supply drinks, food, snacks, and clothing, etc. to the teams they support, some 3,000 volunteers, Oxfam staff members, plus numerous relatives and friends who log on to the Trailwalker site to view the status of the contestants and to show support via social media channels.

To enable timely provision of supplies to the contestants who are constantly on the move, Oxfam needed a system that could pinpoint the exact time each Trailwalker arrives at a particular check point. Should the supporters miss their target teammates, they would run the risk of failing to supply a badly needed blazer to endure a cold night in the wild, for example.

Prior to 2012, Oxfam Hong Kong ran an on-premise system to serve the above communication needs. Needless to say, such a non-scalable system had much room for improvement. "The system was particularly unstable after start time, when a lot of users log in to the system to view the participants' progress. But this had hindered the support teams from obtaining timely information of the Trailwalkers they support," said William Lee (pictured, left), IT manager, Oxfam Hong Kong.