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Houston School Recovers From An Unexpected Network Outage

Before Christopher Hodge became director of technology for St. Thomas High School in Houston, the school suffered a huge outage to its network-attached storage. At the time, the school was backing up its data to tape, a time-consuming, inefficient and — at least in this case — unreliable process.

“The tapes were taking two backups a week, and maybe one of them was good,” Hodge says. “We had a fireproof safe where we kept our backups, but with the amount of data the school was generating, it was becoming quite expensive to have all of those tapes. And then, every week, someone would need to take an hour to drive the backups to an offsite location.”

When the network-attached storage failed, it took IT officials almost two weeks to recover, and the school still lost what Hodges calls a “significant” amount of data. Teachers suffered the greatest impact, with some losing a decade’s worth of lesson plans. Along with their lost files, Hodges says, many teachers lost trust in the school’s IT systems.

To modernize its backup and recovery processes, St. Thomas High School adopted Commvault. The solution performs daily backups that are stored both on a virtual machine on-premises and in the public cloud with Amazon Web Services. Commvault backs up about half a dozen on-premises servers and some virtual machines. To minimize data costs, the solution pushes backups to the cloud during off-peak hours. If the school ever needs to rapidly recover its backups, Hodge says, it could do so by paying a higher data rate. He tests the solution every week.

“We were looking for a solution that would not only allow us to back up our data to a local server or appliance,” Hodge explains, “but that would also push those backups to the public cloud, so that if we had a catastrophic failure within the server room, we could go out and pull that data back down.”

“You can always buy new hardware or install a new operating system, but you can never get back employee data after it’s lost,” he adds. “Backups are the most critical system we have.”

RELATED: K–12 IT leaders should ask these five questions about disaster recovery configurations.


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