Global information technology infrastructure for a global non-profit organisation : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Technology at Massey University
With the recent worldwide growth of the Internet, computers are becoming interconnected in a global communications network. Most people view the Internet as a universal communications medium that can replace telephone, television, and radio. Historically, for organisations and enterprises that could afford to do so, expensive telecommunication lines and Wide Area Network technologies were used for global communications, which allowed computers to communicate using proprietary protocols. For non-profit organisations in particular, the Internet has made it possible to connect offices and individuals, using open standard protocols, at a fraction of the cost of other alternatives. This study focuses on the investigation and development of a global communication system and information technology (IT) infrastructure that uses the Internet as its communication platform for a particular non-profit organisation, OMF International. Without a clear understanding of the limitations of the technologies involved, the development of an IT project is likely to be flawed or fail. (Standish Group, 1995) The findings from this investigation revealed that a global communication system and IT infrastructure, suitable for OMF International, needed to overcome limitations in the use and access of the Internet, the unreliability of different email systems to deliver email messages, and financial and human resource constraints. The study found that methods used in 'for-profit' organisations for the development of an IT infrastructure, were applicable to this non-profit organisation, resulting in the successful implementation of a global communication system and IT infrastructure. The choice of IT solutions and technologies within OMF was often based on functionality rather than feasibility, and its global IT infrastructure requirements were overlooked. The study found that by comparison Lotus Notes' client/server IT infrastructure requirements were considerably less than that of Microsoft Exchange client/server, however, alternative low-cost open standard messaging options were more affordable. Conclusively, open standard IT solutions for global communications are better suited that for this non-profit organisation, than proprietary solutions. The study also highlighted the need for an IT architecture, that would provide a plan and strategic context for future IT development within OMF International, which would overcome problems with concurrent IT projects using different technologies.