The Oyster River Cooperative School District is a highly rated school district in Durham, New Hampshire. Established in 1954 and located in the southeastern corner of the state, the district serves 2,200 students and employs 400 people.
Back-to-back nor’easters dumped several feet of snow and ice on the district in 2018, closing schools for days. The challenge was keeping critical IT systems running, including the payroll system. The district is the largest employer in the area, so if the payroll system is unavailable, staff won’t receive paychecks and the local economy will suffer.
New England is prone to nor’easters, a winter storm infamous for hurricane-force winds, pounding rain and heavy sleet and snow. In 2018, four nor’easters pummeled the region in three weeks, flooding communities, knocking down power lines and destroying homes.
Nor’easters wreak havoc on school districts too. Several feet of snow and ice walloped the Oyster River Cooperative School District that year, closing schools for several days.
“Our schools close, but our IT systems have to keep running which includes our payroll system,” said Josh Olstad, Director of IT at the Oyster River Cooperative School District.
The district employs more than 400 people who spend thousands of dollars each week at local businesses. Keeping the payroll system hyper-available is a top priority.
Hyper-availability is the new normal for today’s school districts. It enables faster reaction to a district’s needs and greater agility during times of crisis, including bad weather.
“When you live in New England, you have to be prepared for heavy snow and ice each winter,” Olstad said. “You have to be resilient; you have to have a safety net. Veeam is our safety net.”
Veeam® Backup & Replication™ has helped the Oyster River Cooperative School District maintain hyper-availability of critical IT systems since 2016.
“Our payroll system would not have survived four nor’easters in three weeks without Veeam, and our local economy would have paid the price,” Olstad said.
On one of the coldest days of the year, the district’s HVAC malfunctioned, pulling subzero air into the data center. Servers couldn’t function at 17° Fahrenheit, rendering the payroll system unavailable. Veeam restored it in minutes.
“Restoring that system would have taken up to a month if we didn’t have Veeam, leaving staff without paychecks and the local economy at risk,” said Ryan Moriarty, Systems Administrator at Oyster River Cooperative School District.
Veeam delivers hyper-availability of critical systems through reliable backup, recovery and replication—three prerequisites the district didn’t have before Veeam.
“There’s something else about Veeam that’s unique,” Moriarty said. “It offers the best technical support in the industry. I spent 30 to 40 hours on the phone with the previous vendor, yet we never had a reliable backup. I spent 10 minutes on the phone with Veeam, and we had a new DR strategy.”
Veeam helped the district build a better DR strategy through replication.
“We can restore our entire IT infrastructure quickly and easily in a disaster situation,” Moriarty said. “That’s hyper-availability at its finest. Our most critical systems will always be available.”
The student information system (SIS) is another critical system. It’s a hub for student data that includes grades, transcripts and attendance. Veeam keeps the SIS hyperavailable so teachers can intervene when students struggle in school, eliminating the risk of them failing or dropping out. The SIS also supports district business, such as registration, enrollment and scheduling. Hyper-availability helps these processes stay on track.
“There’s another big benefit when you use Veeam,” Olstad said. “It’s affordable. We save $10,000 annually, which is a lot for a small district. We have 2,200 students. In larger districts, a single high school serves that many students. Veeam helps us maximize our investment in IT.”
Every district strives to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. Oyster River Cooperative School District surpassed that goal.
“There’s no better bang for the buck than Veeam,” Olstad said. “Our return on investment is defined by money saved and features gained. I dare anyone to find a better solution for hyper-availability.”