As the regional school network grew the administrators found that the backup facilities had not kept pace resulting in a patchwork of backup systems that were unreliable and hard to manage, thus putting the IT resources and critical data at schools and the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) HQ at risk. Each school site ran a standalone backup product, monitoring of the backup was done at the school level and prone to error. The restore of data was often delayed until technical support could get onsite. The CSO was also planning to roll out updated server technology based on virtualisation which created additional backup challenges but also provided an ideal opportunity to solve the backup problem in an integrated way. The new platform was based on Novell Open Enterprise Server Release 2 (OES2), SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES10), Windows Server 2008 and VMware ESX5 virtualisation.
The regional network contains 46 campuses and is spread over a rural area of over 28,000 square kilometres, an area comparable to some European countries such as The Netherlands and Belgium. The wide area data connections available are not universally high speed or high reliability, the connections range from 2mb to 10mb, which means that it was impractical to transfer backup data across the network and it must be stored at the schools. This dictated a distributed backup solution based on tape storage devices at each school. The control and management of remote backups then became a key requirement as it had to be low bandwidth and robust enough to work reliably on unreliable network links.
It also proved desirable to upgrade the CSO head office backup architecture using the same technology to maximise consistency. There were also some existing backup problems that had to be solved for specific sites urgently before the updated server technology roll out would start.
Initially the CSO rolled out a small number of SEP sesam ONE installations to specific sites to solve the existing urgent issues. This proved the SEP sesam backup technology in the field and allowed the CSO team to gain experience with the SEP sesam solution. When the updated server technology roll-out started, the CSO was able to migrate the existing SEP sesam ONE installations into the full solution architecture. This is based on the SEP Master GUI plus SEP sesam ONE and the SEP sesam Remote Device Server at each site, depending on the exact needs at each site. The SEP Master GUI provides a central point of graphical backup management for the entire network. “After a brief learning curve with SEP sesam, we were able to solve our existing backup problems quickly and with minimal cost compared to other solutions” states Mick Howell, the Diocesan Learning Technology Officer.
The Diocese of Lismore CSO was able to solve their existing urgent problems and then build on the initial experience to a fully integrated distributed backup solution that is robust enough to work with imperfect rural communications networks across 46 sites. Being able to backup all their key systems in a consistent and manageable way means that they can focus their energy on delivering improved services to the school community. “We calculated that the CSO will save considerably by moving to SEP sesam backup software. The acquisition cost is much lower than other products we researched and the ongoing maintenance cost is even less,” according to Mr Howell. “Added to the simplicity and ease of use of SEP sesam, the CSO will continue to benefit from the new backup software platform for years to come. Fewer administrative resources are required and several regional staff have been trained to provide oversight for the backup processes,” stated Howell.
About Catholic Schools Office Lismore
The Diocese of Lismore extends from Tweed Heads to Laurieton and west to the foothills of the Great Divide. The region has an agricultural, service industry, tourist based economy and continues to experience significant growth. The Catholic education system currently includes thirty four primary schools with an enrolment of approximately 9,100, eleven systemic secondary schools with an enrolment of approximately 7,700. There is also one non-systemic school with a further approximately 1,300 students at secondary level, giving a total of approximately 17,700 pupils attending Catholic schools. All forty six schools are co-educational. Total school staff exceeds 1,300.
“As with any complex system there have been a number of technical hurdles to overcome during the implementation and we appreciated the dedicated support of the ANZ distributor (Custom Technology) in resolving them,” said Mick Howell (Diocesan Learning Technology Officer).
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