This Tech Snafu May Have Cost Romney the Election

September 30, 2016 • Blog Post • BY JENNIFER GOFORTH GREGORY, HPE MATTER CONTRIBUTOR

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • IT mishaps can have a catastrophic impact on political races
  • Utilizing composable infrastructure can quickly shift tech resources to support various assets on the campaign trail

The Romney campaign ORCA fail may have been caused by inadequate IT infrastructure

Campaigning for political office is a very different process than it was even 20 years ago. Instead of being all about TV ads and direct mailers, candidates focus on having a strong online presence through their website, apps, social channels and videos.

Over the last few elections, most political campaigns have quickly adapted to changes in how people get information, and a crucial part of digital campaigning is having a reliable IT infrastructure. Without the necessary servers, data storage and other components needed to support digital channels, candidates would not be able to campaign effectively. And if voters cannot access a campaign’s digital content, or if it crashes, it reflects poorly on the candidates’ chance of getting elected.

  • If voters cant access digital content, or if it crashes, it reflects poorly on the candidate.

Constantly changing resource priorities on the campaign trail

One of the biggest challenges with building a proper IT infrastructure for campaigns is that the resources needed to manage both traditional IT and cloud-based applications can change on a daily basis. The candidate’s website may need the majority of IT resources on a day that the candidate sends an email message with a donation function to a massive subscriber list. On other days, the campaign’s app may need prime bandwidth because the team has been heavily promoting the app on social media.

If a popular media outlet promotes the candidate’s app, or a specific campaign video on a candidate’s website starts trending on Twitter, IT resources are unexpectedly needed for a specific network. And for IT leaders, it is time consuming to manually reallocate resources as quickly as needed.

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Case study: Romneys ORCA app

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign experienced the effects of inadequate IT infrastructure during the 2012 election. To help keep track of activity at polling locations, as well as coordinate volunteer efforts on Election Day, the Romney campaign distributed an app called ORCA to 37,000 Romney volunteers. The goal was to help volunteers track which Romney supporters had arrived at their polling location and then contact no-shows in the afternoon to encourage them to go to the polls.

However, on Election Day, the app crashed repeatedly. According to Ars Technica, “Part of the issue was ORCA’s architecture. While 11 backend database servers had been provisioned for the system—probably running on virtual machines—the ‘mobile’ piece of ORCA was a Web application supported by a single Web server and a single application server.” As a result, the app was completely useless and the thousands of volunteers were not able to help get out the vote as intended.

The solution: composable infrastructure

Composable infrastructure could have been the key to helping Romney’s campaign avoid the bandwidth issues that mostly halted the Election Day volunteer effort. Composable infrastructure allows enterprises to manage resources effectively as infrastructure requirements change. IT leaders can choose their infrastructure resources—compute, networking and storage—based on the needs of specific applications. This allows enterprises to maintain the structure and security of traditional IT while increasing flexibility and accelerating new applications as needed.

  • Composable infrastructure could have been the key to helping Romneys campaign on Election Day.

With composable infrastructure, political campaigns can create specific rules so that resources are reallocated based on need. The best part is that this happens automatically without IT staff having to manually make these changes. Resources are simply reallocated from areas with less usage to meet the needs. This is especially helpful during campaigns with periods of exceptionally high usage, such as during debates and on Election Day.

Campaigns—and enterprises—that shift to a composable infrastructure can better manage resources and give voters and customers the digital experience they have come to expect. And hopefully, no other campaign will have to experience the consequences of the ORCA Election Day snafu.


 

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