The Business Challenge
Community colleges play an important role in American higher education.
They open the door to postsecondary studies, they’re affordable and they
reach a diverse group of people. AWC provides all that and more. It transforms
lives through education and partnerships to create thriving communities.
To build on its success, AWC created a strategic plan. One of the objectives
was an IT transformation to improve the student experience and
organizational effectiveness. AWC wanted to further automate student
services and eliminate negative findings by state auditors.
Automating student services begins with the registration process. Several
documents are required for registration, and for the majority of applicants, that
includes a student visa. AWC is seven miles from the Mexican border, so many
students cross the border regularly to attend classes. The challenge for the IT
team was backing up the server that supports document processing.
“Backups were only successful 20% of the time, and if a backup was
successful, recovery could take 24 hours,” said AJ Buchtel, cloud services
architect at AWC. “If the server failed and couldn’t be recovered, registration
could come to a grinding halt.”
The second task was eliminating negative audit findings. The State of
Arizona provides AWC with approximately $3.5 million in funding each year,
but only if AWC passes an IT audit. One of the requirements for passing is
implementing the 3-2-1 Rule: three copies of data stored on two different
types of storage with one copy off-premises. The challenge for the IT team
was getting backup copies off-premises.
“Legacy backup didn’t support cloud backup,” Buchtel said. “Cloud backup
was the missing piece of the 3-2-1 Rule, and if we didn’t add it the state
wouldn’t fund us. State funding is critical because it supports our mission of
transforming students’ lives.”
The Veeam Solution
AWC resolved both challenges with Veeam®. Student registration is a highly
efficient process and state funding is anticipated for the foreseeable future.
“It all started with a free trial of Veeam Agent,” Buchtel said. “The server
supporting student registration was physical. The drive was so full that it was
close to crashing, so I installed Veeam Agent to turn it into a Microsoft Hyper-V
server. Then I backed up and recovered it so I could expand the hardware.
Veeam saved the day and hasn’t stopped since.”
AWC deployed Veeam Backup & Replication™ next. Veeam backs up 90
Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere virtual machines (200 TBs) on premise
to Dell EMC Data Domain. Veeam also transfers backup copies off-premises—
the missing piece of the 3-2-1 Rule — to Azure (and to Azure Blob for tiered
storage). Veeam makes everything about the cloud easy: backup, DR and
storage tiering. It’s called Veeam Cloud Data Management™.
“Veeam Cloud Data Management enables us to comply with the 3-2-1 Rule
required by the state for funding,” Buchtel said. “It also helped us create
the college’s first truly comprehensive business continuity (BC) and disaster
recovery (DR) strategy.”
The BC and DR strategy contains several components in addition to off-premises
backup to Azure. A built-in, automatic-tiering feature called Veeam Cloud Tier
offloads older backups to more affordable storage. For AWC, that’s Azure Blob.
“One of the things we like best about Veeam is it’s always on the leading edge of
new technology,” Buchtel. “In this case it was tiered cloud storage using native
The BC and DR strategy also includes automated backup testing and
high-speed recovery. Veeam SureBackup® verifies the recoverability of
backups, and Instant VM Recovery® reduces recovery speed from 24 hours
to minutes. AWC is prone to flash floods, so another Veeam feature may be
required at some point. Veeam Direct Restore to Microsoft Azure will restore
on-premises virtual machines in Microsoft Azure.
Buchtel said Veeam provides AWC with one additional benefit: a savings of
$50,000 over five years.
“Veeam is so much more affordable than legacy backup that we were able
to purchase Data Domain,” Buchtel said. “Veeam and Data Domain integrate
well, delivering a dramatically improved compression ratio of 16:1, which will
significantly reduce our storage footprint and save money on storage in the
long run. It’s really easy to justify purchasing Veeam.”
- Retains funding by transferring backup copies to Azure
to comply with 3-2-1 Rule
“The state auditors were as excited as we were to watch Veeam in action,”
Buchtel said. “We passed the audit and received funding.”
- Enables backup testing and the first comprehensive BC and DR strategy
Veeam automatically tests the recoverability of backups for AWC.
“It’s a really good feeling when you have complete confidence in your
ability to recover,” Buchtel said. “If students lose the assignments they
completed and saved on their desktops, we can recover for them.”
- Saves $50,000 over five years and affords purchase
of Dell EMC Data Domain
“Veeam licensing cost so much less than legacy backup that we were able
to use that savings to replace dumb storage with Data Domain,” Buchtel
said. “What a difference Data Domain makes in storage utilization.”