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Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery in Edtech: How Schools Use Zetta

by Maggie Getova

Backup and disaster recovery can be a drag on a thin budget, but the cloud has given smaller operations like educational institutions more affordable backup and options. Here is how a few of these schools have used Zetta’s cloud backup and DR to keep all of their important data and applications safe without breaking the bank.

Affordable Offsite DR: St. Francis High School

In 2012, California private school St. Francis High School had a cumbersome-to-manage, onsite-only backup solution in place. Their technology director, Larry Steinke, was using disk to back up the most important data, then storing media in a fireproof safe at the school.

Offsite backup had been cost-prohibitive, and he started running into more problems when backups started failing frequently. Recovering data from those disks also became problematic, because it was a time consuming task to look through all the accumulated disks for the right data or file. Because Steinke was one of the few IT staff, he needed to find a backup solution that would take considerably less time.

When Steinke first started searching for an alternative offsite backup and recovery solution, he realized most were beyond his budget. He discovered Zetta and found that the solution was not only affordable, but also resolved all of the issues that came with his old backup system.

Backups became easy to manage through the online console and were automatically scheduled. The data was also sent to the cloud and in-house storage simultaneously. Steinke was especially glad that the operation became hands-off, since it allowed him to focus on other technology in the school, rather than wasting limited time keeping up with maintaining backups.

Easy Backup Management: Merced College

California’s Merced College had a complex backup and recovery system in place in 2011. Their director of IT, Don Peterson, used disk-to-disk for their onsite backups and disk-to-tape to send their backups offsite. These solutions worked well enough at first, but as the school’s data grew, the backup system couldn’t keep up and became difficult to manage.

Tape backups went over their daily backup windows since their deduplication process was inadequate, which put data at risk and slowed other applications down. Managing the tapes also become a concern, since they were aging and could not be relied on to work properly. The entire backup system became unreliable, putting the whole school’s data at risk.

It was up to Peterson to find a simpler backup and DR solution. He wanted backups to be available online at all times, so Zetta looked like a good fit. Soon after using the solution, Peterson could restore files almost instantly through Zetta’s online portal rather than having to wait a day for the right tape to arrive.

Longer backup versioning was also a major plus, since with the prior solution files older than two weeks could not be recovered. Running out of room on tape also became a problem of the past because Zetta was cloud-based and scaled along with the school’s data growth. Peterson no longer had to spend so much of his time or budget on backup, so he could focus the extra resources on solving higher priority issues at the college.

Disaster Recovery for Massive Archive: University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography

University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography had a major project to undertake in 2014 – to digitize a massive photography archive consisting of over 6 million objects. Not only that, the center also lacked a reliable disaster recovery plan at the time, which was a big concern. Their DR was done on a quarterly basis along with the other university departments, which meant that months of data would be left vulnerable at a time. Jim Coleman, the head of Institutional IT Applications, was left with the task of finding a disaster recovery solution for the photography center.

Backup speed was an important factor because Coleman needed to the ability to restore 500GB of data that the organization couldn’t function without, like email and various office applications, within an 8 hour window. Scalability was also really important, since the backup requirement was estimated at 20TB of digital files. In addition, the center had the goal to lower its archive footprint, so a cloud-based solution was an important criteria.

After much research and testing, Coleman decided Zetta Data Protection was the best fit for the photography center. Just a few months into implementing Zetta, he successfully recovered a 20GB folder of image data that had been lost. Prior to having the cloud-based solution, manual recovery would have taken considerably longer, since archives were kept on reel-to-reel tapes. Both disaster recovery and archiving were made an easy and reliable process for the IT department, and the priceless photography archives were kept safe in the cloud.

Maggie Getova
Maggie G

Maggie is a content writer and editor at Zetta. She writes for the blog and manages web content.