John XXIII College in Perth, Western Australia, has about 200 staff and 1,550 students ranging from pre-Kindergarten to Year 12. It is the College’s philosophy to provide high quality, well rounded Catholic education which stimulates enjoyment in learning and prepares graduates to be people of competence, conscience and compassion.
Aiming to manage resources efficiently, the information & communications technology (ICT) team currently has four full time staff, however at key times throughout the school year the department can grow to as many as 10 when supplemental staff are bought on.
One of the top priorities of the College is to support students to achieve academic and personal excellence, and IT is a core supporting element. Data and applications for learning, administration and former students’ use cases need to be accessible 24/7 from any device that students or staff use. An easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use availability solution was needed to help bring systems together seamlessly, ensure uptime and future-proof the ICT environment for future advancements.
Students are the primary focus at John XXIII College, hence the information & communications technology (ICT) operations needs to ensure the learning experience in the classroom is of the highest standards. This includes allowing students to consume the digital services that they rely on for lessons, anytime, anywhere, on any device, and also teachers having access to resources for teaching curriculum on and off-premises.
Having Hyper-Availability is paramount not only to student’s learning. Administrative support, payroll, finance and Alumni development are some of the services that also must be constant and stable.
The College maintains Dell EMC host servers which load balance 25 virtual servers and 20 virtual desktops, comprising a total of 5TB of data. Its primary data storage target is a Pure Storage Flash Array with a primary backup target being a Dell PowerEdge R430 server. The secondary backup target is a Data Domain DD2500 system.
Yugon Chobanoff, John XXIII College’s ICT Operations Manager, says he and the school’s leadership knew the hardware and data environment had to align with data availability best practices – anywhere, anytime and on any device. “As time goes on and our staff and students become more dependent on ICT, the pressure of consistent and available uptime is greater,” he says.
And with the changing times, John XXIII College is mindful of the security aspects of timely disaster recovery (DR). With data assets both on premise at the College and in the cloud, Chobanoff says the College is assessing its place in the new threat landscape, and he considers his position an opportunity to do it right with the right partner.
Like many organisations, John XXIII College’s current ICT environment evolved out of several fragmented and specialised legacy systems. Chobanoff says that while the previous setup was capable enough, it was overly complicated, requiring several products to work in tandem to achieve the best possible outcome – which made for a lot of potential weak links.
“We found, with Veeam® Backup Essentials™, we could consolidate our disaster recovery and availability of resources under the one umbrella,” he says. When asked ‘why Veeam?’, he does not hesitate; “Why Veeam? It just works. It’s intuitive, scalable and reliable.”
While the College has saved time and money in both quantitative and intangible ways, perhaps the biggest change is in Chobanoff’s peace of mind. “We’re now confident our systems are protected and easily restored if we need,” he says. “It’s easy to scale and anyone on the team can own the process intuitively and with simplicity.”
John XXIII College deployed Veeam on their primary backup target system, an onpremise Dell PowerEdge R430 server. It backs up payloads across the College virtual and physical machines, from the uniform shop point-of-sale system and everything in between. Each device and/or application is backed up to the server, which is replicated at the end of every week to a full backup stored in the remote Dell EMC Data Domain environment.
It all means John XXIII College is standardising disaster recovery (DR) across the entire organisation, and that put Chobanoff and his team in a position to meet future demands and manage future risks. He says Veeam is giving the College the power to leverage expanded cloud backup and archival with ease, something that was missing from former products and platforms. Furthermore, the ICT team can consistently meet the specialised and demanding data security compliance requirements of the education sector.
Veeam has given ICT staff more time to devote to other work instead of spending all day managing DR processes, and time – as always – is money.
“Our recovery times are much quicker, and we now have some great visibility into our virtual machine stack with Veeam ONE™ monitor,” Chobanoff says. “It lets us address an issue before it becomes a serious problem and causes an outage.”
In fact, he found he was saving time using Veeam from day one. “For our previous product, I spent nearly six months working with a vendor to try and get the backups consistent. It could take up to three hours in a day trying to deal with different time zones and the availability of engineers in another country.”
Even when the worst happens, Chobanoff has found Veeam to be as painless as it is critical. He tells the story about when a snapshot of one of the College’s server was overlooked before an update was applied. Subsequently, the update caused a server failure. Accessing the archived storage container and restoring the server took only 20 minutes. “Of the one major restore we’ve had to do, Veeam was clearly faster and easier than previous products we’ve used,” he says.
In day to day usage, perhaps one of the biggest advantages to the team is the simplified visibility Veeam offers. “A good example is when an application has an issue and starts eating up memory or CPU resources,” he says. “Veeam ONE alerts us to the problem and we can intervene and avoid a potential server failure. I get an immediate snapshot of where my virtual machine stack is at, and if there are any problems I can jump on them straight away. Where I might have been spending up to two hours a day before, it takes 20 minutes now, that’s all.”
Also critical to the success of Veeam’s deployment at the College has been the integration with other partners and products. In fact, Chobanoff thinks it might be the most important aspect of the platform. “When considering Veeam, it was important that it leveraged our existing investments,” he says. “In our case, the support of Dell PowerEdge R430 and Dell EMC Data Domain Boost DD2500 were key factors being considered.”
He adds that Veeam’s extensive vendor support and integration puts the College in a position to take advantage of existing investments in its Dell EMC systems, as well as scale yearly backups to the cloud for long term retention and compliance. “We’re currently looking at cloud storage providers and so far, Veeam supports every candidate we’re considering.”