Zetta Blog

Disaster Recovery for schools

It’s Hard Out There for an Edu IT Tech

by Maggie Getova

As summer comes to an end and tech finds its way into more classrooms, IT departments in schools have more and more responsibilities piling on a daily basis.

One of those responsibilities is ensuring that school data is kept safe from harm by having a disaster recovery plan that works in case something goes seriously wrong. All of those records, administrative files, lesson plans, and everything in between are critical to keep a school running – so a solid disaster recovery plan is an absolute must.

Unfortunately, many school IT techs are faced with an overwhelming reality: too much data to back up, not enough time or staff to manage it, and not nearly enough in the budget to help alleviate either of those road blocks.

Disaster Recovery on a Budget: Less Money, More Problems

Anyone who’s spent much time in a public school knows that money is usually tight for every department. This tends to put schools on the “last ditch” upgrade cycle – things only ever get upgraded when the duct tape holding them together will no longer stick to new duct tape.

In the IT realm, this means many schools still use old-school backup methods like backing up to tape. This can seem like the budget option, since the school already has the necessary equipment. Unfortunately, administrative and scalability issues become major road blocks for these types of solutions. Tapes take a lot of time to manage. Switching between tapes, finding the right tape when looking for a lost file – all of these tasks can be incredibly time consuming, which translates to a waste of the limited budget.

Data increases every year, so the solution needs to grow with it. With tape and disk, that equates to spending more of the budget on additional tapes and disk space, not to mention finding a place to store them offsite. One of the benefits of backing up to the cloud is that cloud storage capacity grows along with data, so there is no need to manage or buy any additional equipment or hardware. For a monthly fee, data is automatically and simultaneously backed up to the cloud and locally. That allows the IT admin to focus on other tasks, and saves the budget for more important endeavors.

Keeping Data Safe: No Staff, Even More Problems

Since many schools use solutions like tape backup, the school IT department ends up having to spend a lot of time managing those backups. Frequently switching between tapes (which are prone to being damaged and losing data) is time-consuming enough. Having to find a lost file by going through countless tapes can take hours or even days – assuming the file is still on the tapes at all. This task is not just frustrating, but also a major waste of already-limited admin time.

With online backup, daily backups are automatically scheduled to occur, so IT admins need not get involved. As there are no physical copies to manage, the process doesn’t require a lot of (or really, any) human intervention, which in itself can save an IT department hours of managing system backups. Cloud offers significant time benefits for recovery as well. If a single file is lost, the admin can recover it directly from the cloud via a web-based management console in a manner of minutes.

Disaster Recovery & Large Datasets: More Data, Still More Problems

Most organizations, educational or otherwise, have to contend with continually increasing dataset size. Big data can be hard to manage when it comes to doing daily backups with a solution that can finish those backups in a timely manner.

Like we mentioned earlier, tape and other physical backup solutions become problematic when it comes to managing more data, because they do not scale and grow along with it. Increasing capacity with physical backups gets pricy fast because it involves having to buy more hardware every time the dataset gets too big.

If the large dataset size means the backup system cannot handle completing backups within the daily backup window, that also becomes a major issue – it means having to choose between backing up less data, or risking losing more data in case of disaster by extending the window. The unfortunate IT admin responsible must choose between the lesser of two evils.

Enter, DR in the cloud. Backing up large datasets to the cloud can be problematic with many service providers because transferring all of that data can take a really long time, and go over the allotted daily backup window. The good news is that not all online backup solutions work the same way. With Zetta’s cloud disaster recovery architecture, the solution is built to be able to transfer large datasets to and from the cloud through incremental backup and parallelization. Zetta Data Protection can transfer up to 5TB in 24 hours, so depending on which solution a school decides to go with, having to choose between what to back up and not can become a problem of the past for IT departments.

IT admins really don’t have it easy with everything they need to do on a daily basis in the limited time they have in any given day. But it’s important to keep in mind that their roles are becoming more important as technology becomes an integral part of keeping educational institutions running. Implementing cloud DR can help alleviate most, if not all of the painstaking tasks involved in managing backups, and really just makes life easier for everyone – and who doesn’t want that?

If you are interested in checking out our cloud DR solution, you can get yourself a free trial here.

Maggie Getova
Maggie G

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