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Albuquerque Public Schools protect Synergy and Lawson with Veeam and NetApp

The business challenges 

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is the largest district in New Mexico and the largest employer in Albuquerque. Nearly 100,000 people depend on APS to educate their children and employ their family members. In turn, APS depends on the district’s IT team to ensure systems supporting education and payroll are protected and available.

Synergy is one of those systems. It helps APS manage student information such as attendance, grades and immunization records. A teacher portal within the system helps educators track student progress, differentiate instruction and provide timely, effective intervention to children needing extra support. If Synergy isn’t protected and available, APS runs the risk of losing student data.

Payroll data is critical too. APS recognizes the value of teachers, administrators, specialists and support staff, so the district uses a payroll system called Lawson. If it’s not protected and available, employees may not be paid on time. When legacy backup failed to protect Lawson and Synergy adequately, the IT team contacted cStor, a leading provider of data center, digital transformation and cybersecurity solutions.

cStor has worked with APS since 2012 when the district virtualized its IT infrastructure. Later cStor helped APS implement a FlexPod environment comprised of Cisco UCS servers, NetApp FAS Storage and NetApp ONTAP (operating system for FAS).

“FlexPod is ideal for APS, but their legacy backup solution didn’t integrate well with NetApp ONTAP, resulting in unreliable backup and slow, complex recovery,” said Tony Dolan, data center consultant at cStor. “Legacy backup didn’t integrate well with VMware vSphere either, so they didn’t have sufficient monitoring, reporting and capacity planning. That meant they didn’t have visibility into vSphere to resolve issues proactively rather than reactively.”

Dolan demonstrated Veeam® Availability Suite™ for APS. He said 30 minutes later, the IT team was ready to replace legacy backup.

“They were amazed by Veeam’s simplicity, but they were even more amazed by Veeam’s integration with NetApp and vSphere.”

The Veeam solution

APS replaced legacy backup with Veeam to ensure the district’s IT systems are protected and available. Veeam integrates fully with NetApp to back up 100 % reliably and recover 95% faster. Veeam also integrates with vSphere to provide full visibility for proactive issue resolution.

“Veeam and NetApp simplify and improve data protection, giving us confidence that our IT systems supporting teaching, learning and payroll are available,” said Lucas Gutierrez, executive director of technology at APS.

Veeam and NetApp protect another key system — VMware Workspace ONE, a digital platform that securely manages any app on any device. When COVID-19 hit New Mexico, APS sent teachers and students home with laptops and tablets loaded with apps for remote teaching and learning. Workspace ONE supports these apps on nearly 50,000 devices.

“Our re-entry plan for starting the new school year included a combination of remote and in-school teaching and learning in a sanitized and safe setting,” Gutierrez said. “However, if the coronavirus spreads and public health orders call for people to stay home, we’ll swiftly move back to our remote model. Knowing Veeam and NetApp protect remote teaching and learning is a welcome relief, demonstrating how technology supports student success, whether they’re in the classroom or at home.”

Veeam backs up 50 TB across 400 virtual machines (VMs) from NetApp FAS Storage Snapshots on-premises to Dell EMC Data Domain in two data centers. Veeam sends backup copies between data centers and NetApp SnapMirror replicates between them.

Because Veeam integrates so well with NetApp, recovery speed increased by 95 %, thanks to a feature called Instant VM Recovery®, which recovers an entire VM from a backup in minutes. The team will use Multi-VM Instant Recovery to restore multiple VMs at once — the perfect solution for bringing multi-server applications back online fast. For APS, that includes Synergy and Lawson.

Veeam also provides advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning for proactive issue resolution.

“We have complete visibility into vSphere for the first time because of Veeam,” Gutierrez said. “Visibility is just as important as backup and recovery, and here’s why: Now we know when a VM drive is filling up. If you don’t know it’s almost full, teachers and students accessing that app might experience a delay, and we want their access to be seamless.”

Veeam offers something else that could be helpful to APS in the future: Cloud Data Management™. Veeam helps simplify cloud adoption by helping organizations protect, recover and migrate workloads across any cloud infrastructure. Veeam automates data management and ensures data is always available.

The results

Improves backup reliability by 100 % and increases recovery speed by 95%
“Veeam and NetApp integration is amazing,” Gutierrez said. “By simplifying and improving data protection, they give us more time to focus on improving the quality of education, communication, safety and operational services for students and staff.”

Provides full visibility into VMware vSphere for fast, easy proactive resolution
“We had very limited insight into our virtual infrastructure before Veeam,” Gutierrez said. “Being able to resolve issues proactively rather than reactively saves us from a lot of headaches.”

Supports remote teaching and learning across nearly 50,000 laptops and tablets
Veeam and NetApp protect VMware Workspace ONE, a digital platform that enables the district to provide remote learning opportunities.

Albuquerque Public Schools
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Company:

Albuquerque Public Schools is among the top 40 largest school districts in the nation and the largest in New Mexico, serving nearly 84,000 students in 143 schools across 1,200 miles. The district is also the largest employer in Albuquerque, providing full-time jobs for more than 12,000 people including 6,000 teachers. 

Challenge:

The district’s IT team provides innovative, world-class technology services that meet the needs of the entire education community including a student information system and a payroll system. Ensuring they are protected and always available are a top priority. The challenge was legacy backup. It didn’t integrate well with NetApp ONTAP in the district’s Flexpod environment, so backup was unreliable, and recovery was slow and complicated. Legacy backup didn’t integrate well with VMware vSphere either, so the IT team didn’t have visibility into the virtual environment, making it impossible to resolve issues proactively. 

Results:

  • Improves backup reliability by 100% and increases recovery speed by 95%
  •  Provides full visibility into VMware vSphere for fast, easy proactive resolution
  • Supports remote teaching and learning across nearly 50,000 laptops and tablets
Albuquerque Public Schools
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