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Anthony Nolan Partnership

We built a powerful, future-driven platform in the cloud to support Anthony Nolan’s plans to help more people.

The Challenge

Build a powerful, future-driven platform in the cloud to support Anthony Nolan’s vision to save and improve the lives of everyone who needs a stem cell transplant.

Who are Anthony Nolan?

Anthony Nolan is a charity that matches incredible individuals willing to donate their blood stem cells or bone marrow to people with blood cancer and blood disorders who desperately need lifesaving transplants.

Founded in 1974 Anthony Nolan now has a register, in the UK, of more than 600k potential donors, which it uses to help more than 1k people a year.   It also works closely with the World Marrow Donor Association joining the global registers to provide international matches.

What challenges were Anthony Nolan facing?

To match donors with recipients, Anthony Nolan relies on a sophisticated algorithm and a complex network of tools to manage its operations.

These systems had been operating over many years and were approaching the end of their lifecycle. A complete IT refresh was needed to support vital enhancements to their services and meet changes in data processing requirements, including the recent GDPR regulations.

How could Softwire help?

Anthony Nolan needed a long-term IT strategy with a new architecture design, built for modern development and operations practices and compliance with data processing regulations.

To support these changes, they needed an understanding of the skills they required and a delivery plan to make sure their tools could be updated with minimal disruption to critical functions.

Our Solution

What started as a consultation in IT strategy quickly developed into a full delivery partnership as we helped them design, develop and deploy their new infrastructure and technology across key functions.

Detailed IT discovery

Our discovery enabled us to understand Anthony Nolan’s business-level goals and how its IT architecture, skills and processes needed to evolve to support these. We worked with the charity on a new strategic architecture and implementation plan.

Enhanced user experience

We integrated with Anthony Nolan’s teams to develop user interface improvements, adding features to better support the way the search team worked to find the best-matched donors.

New donors could register more easily, with a cloud-powered data processing system to automatically update relevant systems downstream.

Modern architecture, designed and built for the cloud

To compliment Anthony Nolan’s Microsoft development ecosystem, we designed and built their new services and databases for Microsoft Azure. By utilising Azure PaaS offerings, we reduced the amount of overhead to maintain infrastructure, allowing technical staff to focus on their goals to transition and implement features for the new system.

Phased transition of functionality

We designed cloud-hosted wrapper services to connect to the existing legacy database while creating a clean interface on which to build the new infrastructure. Each domain function was then isolated and migrated independently into its own self-contained service.

Adaptable search algorithm

The complex algorithm was broken into distinct functional pieces which were then hosted in the cloud. Each component of the algorithm could be scaled independently to meet demand and enhance the user experience.

Introduced DevOps best practices

Our expertise in operating using DevOps practices was used to bring velocity and orders-of-magnitude improvement to productivity to Anthony Nolan’s delivery pipeline. Our developers implemented continuous integration infrastructure; automated unit and integration testing; automated one-click deployments; structured code reviews; and improved version control branching techniques.

Refactored shared functionality

Any code shared between the services was  to be extracted into libraries, which was deployed into a private Nuget package repository to be used across multiple projects.

Easily updateable, GDPR-compliant forms

An API was developed that allowed forms to be collected and validated independently of their processing, ensuring that the data could be checked for GDPR compliance before being processed.

Azure service bus technology ensured processing capability could scale automatically with demand and downstream systems could easily be updating by subscribing to published messages

The Result

We’ve made it more efficient for Anthony Nolan to match potential UK donors to patients.

Softwire’s close partnership with Anthony Nolan played a key role in enabling them to begin utilising the features of its new system ahead of its busiest sign-up period, and has made an immediate difference. The charity now has a clear picture of the IT systems and skills it needs to underpin its growth plans.

Softwire continues to work with Anthony Nolan to advise on new features and improvements, and to transition even more services to their new cloud platform.


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Anthony Nolan Partnership

Microsoft Azure, .NET, Nuget, React

The project
Strategic IT advisory and delivery services to support the charity’s plans to help more people.

The results
Clear IT architecture plans and quick delivery of key projects in the cloud make an immediate impact.