Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

"There was a time when we'd want to open source, but the problem is that users are used to Microsoft products and they don't always get the conversion. The TechSoup advantage for a nonprofit is huge. It makes a difference in how productive an organization can be."

— Spokesperson for MIRA

MIRA Crafts Virtual Desktops For for Faster Access Across Multiple Platform

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) represents 1 million immigrants and refugees in New England. It provides policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training development, and strategic communications. It is a unified voice of more than 140 organizations. Technology demands can be both extreme and constantly changing. The core organization has a staff of about 15 to 20 people, but students from local universities sometimes double its numbers. Employees are often in transit and large document sharing is a must for the organization to meet its mission. 

The organization decided that a good solution would be to provide virtualized desktops that would keep up with in-house staff and their interns as demand dictates. The actual hardware they use is simply terminals to access their virtual machine desktops, which range from their own supplied mobile and tablet devices to a dozen or so low-end laptops kept onsite. Rather than constantly putting resources toward updating hardware and software, they created a system of server-based virtual desktop machines that offers faster, more robust access in the face of the ebb and flow of users.

With server hardware donated by Boston-area nonprofit (and TechSoup member) Earthworm Recycling, MIRA has moved its entire network to rack-mounted mainframe computers. The nonprofit no longer has to deal with the issue of finding a desk or a machine for each worker, but everyone has access to all internal software and the network. Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel; Intuit QuickBooks; and Adobe Creative Suite, all of which were donated through TechSoup, will greatly increase MIRA's access and productivity and allow them to have an additional 40 desktops available from anywhere at very low cost.