Servers in a suitcase help mission

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Western Territory I.T. department helps Army workers overseas obtain needed computer equipment.


If Barbara Simpson, I.T. (Information Technology) Procurement Specialist at Western Territorial Headquarters, has her way, no Salvation Army territory anywhere in the world will lack the basic computer equipment they need to fulfill their mission! She is determined that I.T. employees of the Western Territory will cast a global vision, direct (our personal) resources to mission, and help Salvation Army workers overseas get the technology they need to do their work.

Over the past several years various professional I.T. staff members of the Western Territory have traveled to countries around the world to assist with I.T. needs. We have sent people to Kenya, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines and elsewhere. The common theme voiced upon return home is that computer equipment in these countries is just inadequate to perform the Army’s work.

At the Territorial Business Conference earlier this year, Mark Calleran, IT Manager and chief information officer at International Headquarters, told delegates of a strategy to address the computer equipment needs in grant-aided territories around the world. The concept was inspired by work that has gone on in the Western Territory, whereby preconfigured cookie-cutter systems are deployed to our ministry units. That same idea was considered for computer needs overseas, and a configuration developed that is suitable for deployment into grant-aided territories. It wasn’t easy, since the systems must be transportable, self powered, easily configured, able to support many concurrent users, and convenient to replace in the event of breakage or theft. The resulting design consists of two notebook computers, several thin-client terminals, network equipment and other miscellaneous hardware and software. It all fits in a suitcase, and thus has been code-named “servers-in-a-suitcase.” Calleran told business conference delegates that servers-in-a-suitcase have revolutionized the IT capabilities of those territories where they have been deployed. He further explained that there is just not enough funding to deploy servers-in-a-suitcase everywhere they are needed.

That didn’t discourage Barbara Simpson. She sprang into action proclaiming that the I.T. staff of the Western Territory would raise the $7,000 required to provide at least one needy territory with their servers-in-a-suitcase. Since then she has conducted several small fundraising events and has more planned. Other I.T. staff members have also pitched in with private donations and fundraising ideas. Simpson says “I plan to organize a soccer night in late September, featuring the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. Tickets are $30 each and we hope to make at least $1,000 towards the project.”

If you wish to contribute to the servers-in-a-suitcase cause, you may contact Barbara by email at or by phone at 562-491-8711.

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