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Christmas Cards for Schools Clustered Print Generation

Christmas Cards for Schools – Case Study

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Summary

Christmas Cards for Schools based in Middlesbrough here in the North East, part of Fundraising Creations, offer Fundraising solutions for Schools, their primary product being the production of bespoke printed and customised Christmas Card packs personalised with the pupils name, class and of course their own drawing. Having been responsible for the production of in excess of 1.1 million cards in the Christmas 2013 season efficiency and scalability are high priorities

Technical

Client Christmas Cards for Schools Ltd – Middlesbrough based School Fundraising
Platforms Linux, Web, WebServices,
Technologies PHP, Perl, CSS, Jquery, MySQL, REST, ImageMagick, Apache, Clustering
Development Web Development, Web Services Integration, Synchronisation

Case Study

To understand the scale and requirements to create, print and distribute in excess of 1million Christmas Cards in a 3 month period each year it’s probably beneficial to understand the workflow required, and the stages at which dotUK have been able to build out and scale, thus adding capacity each year.

christmascard

  • Participating Schools are sent Artwork kits
  • Kits are returned and the drawings are scanned, grouped, and filed into our Web Based storage system
  • School batches are processed within our processing cluster leading to the creation of digital print ready personalised images (1 Per child)
  • Print ready images are synchronised to the print partner who takes responsibility for print and distribution, feeding back status to the storage system dashboard.

Due to the system being highly seasonal dotUK have built a bespoke hosting infrastructure that offers a cost effective, but highly scalable hosting solution. Services that are required year around are separated from the seasonal processing cluster, thus offering a base line cost for the majority of the year. The processing cluster is build in such a manner, that additional processing nodes can be added at 15minute deployment windows, and will automatically join in the pool of processing power, but can be removed when surplus thus reducing hosting and running costs that are unwarranted.

To maintain maximum data integrity, control, and compliance in excess of UK Data Protection requirements, the hosting cluster and processing engine is a bespoke, privately hosted solution provided, hosted, and monitored by dotUK

Depending on the solution offered to the school the workflow may include digital samples that are offered initially to the school prior to order, but ultimately school co-ordinators enter their school order quantities online through their own access portal, which triggers the print cluster and sync services to push final orders to the print partner.

In addition to the core card generation workflow, we also generate supplementary personalised products, and fully automate other ancillary services such as billing, marketing / kit requests and the ability for parents to view online samples prior to order

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