Quinnipiac University, named for the Native American tribe that once inhabited the area, has always been a highly respected institution known for academic innovation and research. By the mid 1990s, the university had garnered an additional accolade: world-renowned public opinion polling organization.
Universally regarded as the gold standard in national and statewide polling, the Quinnipiac University Poll is frequently cited by researchers, public officials and national and international media outlets including The New York Times, The Financial Times and the Associated Press. It covers topics such as politics, elections and issues and is widely recognized for exactness and thoroughness.
“Protecting our polling system is a top priority, but that’s just a fraction of what we protect,” said Fabiano Iacusso, Associate Director of Systems, Technology and Planning at Quinnipiac. “Like all universities, we protect all systems supporting teaching and learning.”
Quinnipiac uses Blackboard Learn to manage educational content, Ellucian Colleague for enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Ellucian Self Service so students can schedule classes, retrieve grades and pay tuition. Additional systems support digital documentation, departmental file sharing, electronic medical records and Campus ID Card and Credential solutions for students, faculty and staff.
“The challenge was protecting our systems,” Iacusso said. “We were using two back up legacy products so we lacked centralized monitoring and management, making it difficult to ensure system availability. We often had to restart backup jobs or re-protect data from scratch because of vague error logs. Recovery wasn’t efficient either and could be time-consuming. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that data loss would cripple our environment and set the university back many years, so we searched for a better backup solution.”
The university considered two: Unitrends System Recovery and Veeam® Availability Suite™.
“Data protection is our number one priority, so we chose the number one solution,” Iacusso said. “Veeam restores our confidence in data protection and has become the center of our disaster recovery (DR) strategy.”
Veeam simplifies and centralizes data protection so Quinnipiac’s IT systems are always available to support teaching, learning and polling. Veeam reduces recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) from one day to 15 minutes and guides data compliance requirements for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
“Veeam is the single most critical piece of software in our IT environment because it keeps our core systems operational,” Iacusso said. “Veeam is clearly the gold standard for modern data protection and a one-stop shop for business continuity. It protects all of our workloads—nearly 80 TBs across 15 physical servers, 253 virtual machines (VMs) and network attached storage (NAS)—under a single pane of glass.”
Veeam provides powerful NAS backup via changed file tracking, which shortens the backup window and enables more frequent backup for more recovery points. This is key because the NAS workload includes 20 years’ worth of departmental file sharing. File loss would be devastating to faculty because files often contain their life’s work.
Powerful NAS backup contributed to RPOs decreasing from one day to 15 minutes. RTOs decreased to 15 minutes as well for most workloads, thanks to high-speed recovery features such as Instant VM Recovery®, which recovers VMs from a backup in minutes. The team knows backups are viable and recoverable because Veeam also monitors and reports on the backup environment.
“Veeam provides a simple yet powerful platform for monitoring, reporting and alerting that gives us visibility into the status of our backups — a first for us — making backup and recovery management so much easier.”
Another first is Backup as a Service (BaaS) and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). After backing up VMs on-premises, Veeam sends copies to OffsiteDataSync, a Platinum Veeam Cloud & Service Provider. If Quinnipiac encounters a disaster situation, OffsiteDataSync will provide DRaaS for business continuity.
“Thanks to Veeam and OffsiteDataSync, we can also check the boxes for ‘offsite availability’ and ‘data compliance’ for FERPA and HIPAA,” Iacusso said. “At any given time, Veeam is in the DR driver’s seat, helping us maintain compliance and get the lights back on quickly if needed.”
Quinnipiac is a private, coeducational university in Connecticut offering more than 100 programs to approximately 10,000 students from 44 states and 54 countries. Founded in 1929, Quinnipiac has 50,000 alumni and employs 4,800 faculty and staff.
Like all universities, Quinnipiac protects the IT systems supporting teaching and learning. Unlike all universities, Quinnipiac also protects a widely acclaimed polling system that serves as one of the nation’s most accurate measures of public opinion. Quinnipiac’s challenge was protecting these IT systems. Backup and recovery were decentralized and unnecessarily complex, making it difficult for the IT team to ensure system availability.