TechSoup’s Recipe to Help Nonprofits Succeed

Size: 200+

Industry: Nonprofit

Location: San Francisco, CA

Customer Since: 2011

Have you ever heard of TechSoup?

Despite its name, TechSoup is not a company that uses the latest tech to create a recipe for tasty soup. Rather, it’s a nonprofit that gathers all the ingredients (in this case, a myriad of technology solutions) to support other nonprofits in achieving and accomplishing their missions. The organization manages donation programs through 60+ partnerships with hardware and software service providers such as Symantec, Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft, and PagerDuty.

With over 200 employees worldwide, TechSoup supports more than 60 web platforms globally in a variety of different languages. It provides this service through its partner network to nearly every country in the world, and works with those partners to manage their donor programs.

It also manages a lot of the back-office work and coordination tied to the donor programs. “In addition to the product or donation side of the house, we also bring nonprofits together so they share their thoughts and experience, and leverage what each has done in terms of using their technology,” shared Michael Enos, Senior Director of Community and Platform at TechSoup.

Monitoring a Swirling Stew of Applications

Working with companies and partners around the globe meant TechSoup needed to stay on top of a number of their own internal applications. “We monitor our main website and our back-end systems—which includes a fulfillment system and an enterprise service bus—which are all used to feed other various systems and services that are also monitored,” Enos explained.

In addition to these applications, TechSoup also needed a system to monitor 300-400 isolated nodes that provide service to its entire network. With all the monitoring required, the organization needed a soup-to-nuts solution—and one that could be customized to its unique network. That’s where PagerDuty came in.

“The fact that we could customize PagerDuty’s features was the deciding factor,” said Enos when asked why he chose the platform over other solutions. With over 1,000 servers and systems in different environments and using their own event monitoring systems, TechSoup decided to use PagerDuty to centralize the escalation of issues so that upper management could easily stay informed. “Considering the number of systems we’re supporting, there’s usually something going on at any given time, and they’re usually handled close to where the action is,” Enos explained. “We needed something that would send an issue up the escalation chain when someone’s not responding within a certain amount of time.”

A Soup-erb Solution for Support Staff

TechSoup also needed to optimize its off-hours support staff, which included sending alerts to first responders when an issue arose—and escalating that issue if necessary. In the past, if someone couldn’t log into their computer or they got locked out of their accounts, they would call TechSoup’s help desk, and the help desk would then contact whoever was scheduled to be on call. If the phone lines went down, no one would be alerted about issues.

That all changed with PagerDuty. “We were able to configure PagerDuty so that if an alert comes in and matches specific criteria, it would then create an incident and alert someone,” said Enos. “We wanted something cloud-based so that if there are any issues with our infrastructure or if our network goes down, we would still be able to get in contact with our first responders.”

Taking Stock of the Current State of Affairs

Today at TechSoup, PagerDuty is used by the help desk, infrastructure, community, and platform teams. “It just works; we’ve never had an incident where PagerDuty wasn’t available,” Enos shared. “We can get as granular as needed or use it for the most basic alerting. Additionally, the extensibility of multiple platforms—my Mac, my PC, the PagerDuty app on my phone—means I can acknowledge or resolve an issue through a number of different ways.”

“We all sleep better at night now because the calls that are being picked up are the ones that are truly important,” concluded Enos.