The Business Challenge
The mission of Val Verde Unified School District SD is to provide academic environments that produce life-long learners who become responsible and contributing citizens in a culturally diverse society.
“It’s our job to support the district’s mission through the use of technology,” said Matt Penner, director of information and instructional technology, Val Verde USD. “We don’t simply train students how to operate technology — we also teach them how to use it as a resource to further their educations and careers. To accomplish this, our data must be backed up and protected at all times, especially if we experience a catastrophic event such as an equipment failure or a cybersecurity incident.”
A new cybersecurity incident strikes a school district approximately every three days according to The State of K-12 Cybersecurity: 2018 in Review. Released by the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, the report cited 122 incidents in 2018 that resulted in the theft of millions of taxpayer dollars, stolen identities, tax fraud and altered school records.
No school district wants to become a victim of a cyberattack, so Val Verde USD proactively sought to increase its data protection. The most critical data is in a student management system called Aeries. It contains students’ grades, test scores, attendance records and more. The district’s business data is critical as well. It includes financial, HR and payroll — everything that enables the district to operate smoothly.
“Recovery with legacy backup was horrendously slow, taking an average of three hours for a single file,” Penner said. “When recovery takes that long, it makes you question whether getting data back is worth it, and that’s not a position you want to be in. You certainly don’t want to ask the superintendent how badly he needs a file recovered.”
Penner said legacy backup was also difficult to use. “We spent an hour each day on management and maintenance, so combined with slow recovery, legacy backup was consuming eight hours each week. Like most school districts, we have a small IT team, so every minute counts.”
He understood that he would need to engage a partner with expertise updating a legacy backup system. Val Verde USD contacted several resellers for advice. One stood out among the rest: Logicalis, a leading global provider of digital enablement solutions.
“We shared the same list of requirements with each reseller, but only one really listened,” Penner said. “That made Logicalis’ role invaluable. They put us at the center of the process, making sure they understood what we were hoping to accomplish, and really provided the expertise to guide us accordingly. Throughout the experience, we felt that we were working with a true partner who operated with our best interests in mind to ensure the product would be successful.”
Logicalis operated as more than just a vendor, but as a trusted advisor. Logicalis already had a prior relationship with the district as a network solutions advisor, which enabled a deeper understanding of Val Verde USD’s needs. Logicalis then leveraged its customer-centric partnership approach to fully understand the expectations, timeline, and requirements of this project, in turn capitalizing on its vertical-specific expertise and equally longstanding vendor partnerships to guide Val Verde USD towards a solution that would comprehensively—and quickly—enable success.
The Veeam Solution
Logicalis listened carefully to Val Verde USD and recommended Veeam® Availability Suite™.
“We replaced legacy backup with Veeam and significantly improved our ability to protect data,” Penner said. “Recovery speed increased by 98%, so if we find ourselves in a catastrophic situation, we know we’ll be able to recover quickly, avoid data loss and operate as normally as possible.”
“It’s amazing how quickly Veeam restores data,” said Brian Falk, Network Services Manager, Val Verde USD. “Rather than asking someone how badly they need us to restore something, we ask, ‘How fast do you need it? No problem!’ We have full confidence in our ability to do our jobs, and we’re able to do our jobs faster. We save eight hours each week because Veeam is fast, simple and easy to use.”
Falk said Veeam checks all the boxes on the district’s list of requirements beginning with primary storage integration. Veeam is storage-neutral and integrates deeply with many storage providers, including HPE Nimble, which is the district’s primary storage. Veeam backs up 30 TB across 100 VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) from Nimble Storage Snapshots on-premises for fast recovery. Nimble replicates VMs off-premises for disaster recovery (DR).
Integration with HPE Nimble doesn’t stop there. Veeam On-Demand Sandbox™ for Storage Snapshots lets the IT team create isolated environments for testing software updates before deploying them in production. “Sandboxing is a big benefit for us,” Falk said “When our engineers want to test something in Active Directory, we build them isolated environments, giving them full range to completely destroy Active Directory if they need to because we know we can restore it fast with Veeam.”
Another requirement was cloud backup. Veeam provides fast and secure backup, replication and direct restore to the cloud. Val Verde hasn’t chosen a cloud yet, but Veeam can leverage any public cloud provider, including AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud, or a managed service provider.
Veeam also provides a Cloud Data Management strategy. By taking a holistic approach to data across its lifecycle, Veeam merges the traditional disciplines of backup, recovery, protection, security and management with cloud mobility, visibility, orchestration and automation. Veeam will help Val Verde USD evolve the way it manages data to ensure its always protected and accessible on-premises, off-premises and in the cloud.
“One of the things we like best about Veeam is it can protect all workloads — virtual, physical and cloud — from a single management console,” Falk said. “But we also appreciate that Veeam supports tape backup, which was another requirement.
A lot of resellers pushed us away from tape, but Logicalis understood our reasoning: It’s additional security for cyberattacks, particularly in the case of ransomware. Tape is our second media in the 3-2-1 backup rule.”
“Veeam plays a critical role in protecting all of our data,” Penner said. “It’s an excellent product that’s easy to set up and configure, but most important, it has a proven track record. Veeam makes our lives easier.”
- Backs up and recovers data quickly from HPE Nimble Storage snapshots
Val Verde USD replaced legacy backup with Veeam to improve data protection. “School districts experience the same cyberattacks as corporations and government agencies, so we have to be proactive and diligent in how we protect data,” Penner said. “Veeam is fast, reliable and easy to use. We know we can recover data quickly if we need to.”
- Recovers data 98% faster (takes three minutes versus three hours)
“Before deploying Veeam we sometimes had to asked users if they really needed us to recover something because the process could take hours,” Falk said. “Our job is to provide what they need as fast as possible, and Veeam helps us do that.”
- Provides comprehensive cloud backup and a Cloud Data Management strategy
Veeam protects all data for Val Verde USD by backing up to disk, tape and eventually to the cloud when the district is ready. Veeam ensures data is recoverable and available in the event of an outage, attack, loss or theft. Veeam also offers broad data management capabilities and an extensive orchestration engine to facilitate DR readiness.
Logicalis is an international, multi-skilled solution provider of digital enablement services. The company’s customers span many industries including financial services, education, healthcare, retail, government, manufacturing and professional services. Logicalis employs 6,000 people in offices throughout Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa.