AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Age UK Scales to Connect with 7 Million People Each Year

Age UK is the UK’s largest charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. They have the vision to make the UK a great place to grow older and they work every day to achieve this by providing companionship, advice, and support for older people who need it most.

Scalability, cost savings, and security are key in delivering Age UK’s services to more than 7 million people every year. In 2012, Age UK turned to AWS to help revamp their technology to better support the older generation in the UK.

The initial migration to the AWS Cloud allowed the team to launch a new server in minutes instead of the weeks it took previously with their on-premises environment. Since 2012, Age UK has shifted all of its development and testing environments into the cloud.

“One of the biggest benefits has been allowing our digital team to experiment and deliver services faster. We are able to spin up test environments and get new features out quicker. Before we were reactive. When we wanted to spin up servers, it would take a couple of weeks to put in a request, process the request, and then make improvements to the services,” said Richard Holland, Solutions Architect at Age UK.

One service they offer is the Call in Time service, a telephone befriending service that helps Age UK fight loneliness among older people. Once a week for 30 minutes, Call in Time connects older people with volunteers over the phone. Barbara, a Call in Time member, explains, “That regular, reliable call was a godsend to me… Mel is a very special friend.”

Call in Time uses AWS Lambda to scale the system on demand, using serverless offerings, while saving Age UK money with low compute costs. The old system could handle 2,500 calls per month, and now Age UK is working to scale the new system to 5,000 calls per week. This supports the charity’s bottom line: tackle loneliness, get older people active, and support people to stay independent longer.

With these recordings comes data. Age UK used AWS Snowball to import historic call recordings from an on-premises infrastructure to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for improved security and redundancy. In addition to S3, Age UK uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). They also use Amazon CloudFront for secure content delivery and AWS Elastic Beanstalk for deploying and scaling web applications and services. And they make use of AWS CloudFormation to automate infrastructure tasks.

“AWS allows us to operate more efficiently at pace and scale up services when needed, while also saving money,” said Richard. “As a charity, having enough technical resource is always a challenge, AWS allows us to do more with less, while still operating secure and highly available environments.”

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