Until recently, Shire Christian School had never invested in off-site backup or disaster recovery solutions, and operated in a legacy Mac environment requiring manual backups by USB to Apple Time Machine hard drives. The process was very time consuming for the school’s 3-man IT team, with very high risk of human error.
“The unreliability of the network that we had in place is the kind of things that keep IT workers awake at night,” says Chad Walsham, IT Manager, Shire Christian School. “There were many hours chewed up in the manual process, and sometimes people wouldn’t have time to do backups, or it would be forgotten. It could be a bit disastrous.”
In shifting into a hyper-converged production environment — going from zero to 70% virtualization in just 12 months — Shire Christian School required a simple, reliable and cost effective availability solution that would support the school’s upscaling and consolidation of its IT infrastructure, including a shift away from Macs to a Microsoft environment, and a new off-site private cloud facility.
The threat of unreliable backup and recovery meant the possibility of interrupted workflows for days at a time, not only affecting the productivity of staff, but also the school’s ability to deliver on its promise of providing quality education and support for its students and their families.
“IT has a pretty strategic role in education, definitely the landscape at the school has changed over the past 10 years, from general computer labs to now more one-to-one use of devices and so on,” says Walsham. “It’s critical to keep the infrastructure and core systems running to deliver quality learning.”
Further, the threat of losing student records to unscheduled downtime, or leave them vulnerable to malware attacks, could not only mean losing access or compromising sensitive data but also would result in non-compliance with privacy legislation.
“There’s a lot of delicate handling required around the security of important student data, like their medical records or family information, so part of our job is making sure that data is held in a secure environment that is always very accessible to selected people, not just from a business continuity perspective, but from a regulatory standpoint too,” says Walsham.
To mitigate these risks, Shire Christian School sought a new availability solution that would support its unique requirements and that would integrate well with existing new systems, and guarantee positive results.
The first indication that Veeam Backup and Replication™ was the solution for Shire Christian School was the recommendation from cloud provider, BEarena, which served as the “glue” for a successful tailored implementation thanks to its complementary product and strong knowledge of each component of Shire Christian’s IT environment. Walsham first worked with the vendor to implement its new off-site private cloud storage facility in 2016.
“We needed to improve our backup and restoration processes, so as well as providing excellent implementation guidance and ongoing technical support, BEarena recommended Veeam in conjunction with their product,” says Walsham. “We still carried out peer-based research, asking other IT specialists in independent schools around Australia, and those that had implemented Veeam all gave positive reviews, so we were happy to go ahead.”
Today, Veeam allows Shire Christian School to store and backup to its on-site Nutanixsupported Dell servers, backup its VMs to off-site private FlexDR cloud (using Veeam Cloud Connect) for downloadable recovery, while providing immediate disaster recovery capability for critical systems, regularly replicated on-site.
The new backup process has shaved off hundreds of hours a year previously dedicated to manual backups, as well as removing the risk of human error. Backups and replications are now carried out more regularly on and off-site through Veeam’s automated schedule to ensure all data is up-to-date, secure and compliant.
“Veeam has filled gaps we didn’t even know needed filling, and the automation has really clawed back our time so that we can better spend it on managing our infrastructure and other areas that need attending to,” says Walsham.
“The biggest benefit would be the immediate restore process. Previously, a server failure would mean between 1 and 3 days of rebuilding the server and configuration. Now we have same-day restoration, plus immediate failover on key systems, meaning our student, business and financial records and systems are always available, and their integrity is maintained.”
Veeam’s monitoring capability has also played a huge role in the reliability of Shire Christian School’s data and overall productivity.
“Since we’re running on two disparate systems, the centralization of our backup has been incredibly helpful; and with regular reports we can identify any pain points before they have a chance to impact the school,” says Walsham. “Where previously we would have to trawl through loads of information to determine the issue, with Veeam’s advanced visibility we now know immediately what issue to address.”
Trusting that the school can maintain data integrity with Veeam has been a major relief for Shire Christian School, its IT team, and its leading executives who not only have seen major improvements in productivity, but who also benefit from peace of mind, knowing their important and sensitive data is secure and reliable.