Public school districts share a common goal—sustained student achievement—yet they’re under extreme budgetary pressure. Districts are expected to do more with less, and their success in part is measured by how well their students perform on standardized tests.
Students have been taking standardized tests in the United States since the 1960s. Today, the average student takes approximately 112 standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and high school graduation according to the Council of the Great City Schools.
Test results help determine the amount of government funding districts receive. Districts are required to report test scores within a specific timeframe. If they miss the deadline, funding decreases. Similarly, if a district fails to distribute report cards on time, fines are levied. Reduced funding and fines could cost a district tens of thousands of dollars.
Microsoft Active Directory supports standardized tests and report cards in Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS). Microsoft Exchange supports communication among district staff, students and their families, which is equally important.
If Exchange fails, staff can’t email parents about their children missing time-sensitive assignments, or alert them to health issues such as outbreaks of head lice and whopping cough. If Exchange is unrecoverable, the district can’t meet court-imposed deadlines to provide subpoenaed emails. When a district can’t meet its legal obligation, the court will impose fines.
Slow, unreliable backup and recovery threatened continuous availability of Exchange and Active Directory, so AACPS took action.
Veeam® Backup & Replication™ delivers 24x7 Availability of Active Directory and Exchange to help AACPS preserve the integrity of standardized tests, report cards and email, while saving $150,000 each year.
“When I talk to school districts struggling to keep critical systems available because legacy backup is slow and unreliable, I tell them about Veeam,” said Manish Patel, Senior Systems Administrator for AACPS. “Veeam supports our top business priorities and saves us a substantial sum during this time of funding deficits and tight budgets.”
Veeam saves AACPS $150,000 in several ways. Hardware accounts for $4,000. Prior to Veeam, AACPS purchased redundant hardware each year so Active Directory and Exchange would have a place to run if they failed in production. The district saves the equivalent of $86,000 because legacy hardware required field engineers to travel to 126 schools daily to check backup success or failure (mostly failure). With Veeam, they spend minutes checking backups on their laptops.
The remaining $60,000 is saved as AACPS transitions from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. Veeam supports the Microsoft Hyper-V host installed on Nano Server (part of Windows Server 2016), allowing the district to virtualize backend infrastructure services and complete its digital transformation. A 100 percent Hyper-V environment requires fewer physical servers, saving $20,000 each year. The physical backup tool won’t be needed either, saving $40,000 per year.
Veeam makes the transition to Windows Server 2016 fast and easy, saving the district 80 hours’ worth of time while testing the upgrade. With Veeam’s On-Demand Sandbox™ feature, Patel and his colleagues spin up exact copies of their production 2012 R2 VMs to test the upgrade from 2012 R2 to 2016 without impacting production VMs in use. The 2016 VMs and the 2012 R2 VMs run in parallel so users aren’t impacted during the testing phase.
Following the Windows Server transition, AACPS will master Veeam Management Pack™ (MP) for Microsoft System Center. Veeam MP extends System Center monitoring capabilities by providing detailed insights into Hyper-V VMs and hosts, plus the hardware, storage and network resources they run on. Veeam MP automatically integrates System Center’s native monitoring of Active Directory and Exchange—by providing a drill-down view from each application to the virtualization layer to the hardware data.
“We look forward to deep visibility into our virtual and physical environments,” Patel said. “Veeam MP will help us identify and repair issues before they become problems that impact the district and our users. Veeam is our software for backup and disaster recovery and it allows us to meet the state and federal regulations.”