Case Study: Central Carolina Community College Teaches Importance of Disaster Recovery

MontE Christman (Profile)
Wednesday, January 2nd 2013

At Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), we understand the importance of having our data available around the clock, and we know the traditional and old-fashioned methods of data protection and disaster recovery (DR) do not work. Our students, professors and staff expect constant data availability. The college has more than 20,000 students using our systems every year. Key applications and the data which resides on these applications must be fully protected and accessible by these groups regardless of an equipment failure in our main data center or a true disaster that moves us all off campus.

Like dusty chalkboards, overhead projectors and the slide rule, we saw that tape-based data backup should no longer be a primary part of the educational landscape for DR. The modern community college is digital, and it deserves a comparably updated and efficient approach to data protection. In terms of DR planning, it is critical for community colleges such as CCCC to be prepared to handle their expanding student bodies and the associated data needs. There are many community colleges that are searching for strategies and technology solutions to manage growth, improve user experience and ensure a path to recovery in the event of disaster. In order to cost-effectively reach this goal, CCCC revamped its data center. Through effective planning and preparation of a business continuity (BC) and DR plan, our institution is in a better position should a disaster occur.

DR planning is important for all companies, but even more so within educational institutions, as many students turn to online learning systems and classes. Faculty and student work is becoming increasingly digitized, and IT departments find themselves tasked with more than the administrative issues that occupied them in the past. If the entire educational process – from online lectures to electronically submitted assignments – is dependent on the data center, the backup and recovery technologies must be up to par. This means that colleges can no longer have downtime due to data backup and protection solutions.

Implementing Effective Disaster Recovery

Based in North Carolina and serving students on three campuses in Lee, Harnett and Chatham counties, CCCC recognized a need in its operations several years ago. The data center relied on a tape-based backup system that required an enormous window of time for securing files housed on database and email servers. Our small IT group handles a large workload across all three campuses with 40 to 50 servers running on Solaris, Linux and Windows platforms. As the team is often busy with additional infrastructure items, we sought a low-maintenance solution that would incorporate disk-based protection and deliver hourly snapshot and replication capabilities to meet the stringent expectations of the college community for always-available data access.