Founded in 1963 as a comprehensive school and established as an academy in 2011, The Academy, Selsey forms part of The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT). This trust is the largest Multi-Academy Trust in the South of England comprising over 40 Primary and Secondary Academies.
Located on the South Coast of England, The Academy, Selsey has approximately 400 students and prides itself on the role it has within the local community. The Academy’s overall aim is to invest in the development of students who appreciate the value of learning. Students who graduate from The Academy, Selsey are able to make a full contribution to society.
Tape-based backup inefficiency
Prior to using Redstor’s cloud backup software and services to store student data, The Academy, Selsey was using a traditional tape-based backup method. Whilst this process was able to successfully backup their 1TB of student data, it also presented a number of challenges for the School’s IT Manager, Daniel Sapseid.
Firstly, the efficiency of the backup process was becoming problematic as it would often take up to two full days for a full backup to complete. Daniel Sapseid comments: “I would often leave the backup process to complete over the weekend and then would take the tapes home with me. Looking back, I see it wasn’t the most efficient way to store critical student data as a large part of my time was spent ensuring the backups had been completed in the first place.”
Implementing an online backup solution
TKAT partner with Redstor and promote the use of Redstor’s backup service (RBUSS) across the Trust. In 2015, Daniel decided it was time to update The Academy, Selsey’s backup strategy. He attended the BETT Show (British Educational Training and Technology trade show) for guidance. He met Redstor at the show and following a demonstration and trial of their product, Redstor’s Backup Service for Schools (RBUSS) was rolled out across the school in July 2015.
“The implementation process was really straightforward and smooth,” recalls Daniel. “I had a conference call with one of Redstor’s technicians and after a test to make sure everything was working; we were able to roll out the service overnight.
Redstor’s Backup for Schools service automatically protects data residing on desktops, laptops, servers and network attached storage devices according to retention policies and schedules set by the user. Data is compressed, encrypted and sent to one of Redstor’s secure state of the art data centres before it is mirrored to a second secure Redstor data centre, ensuring the data is safely stored offsite for disaster recovery and regulatory compliance purposes. When data recovery is required, users can simply select the data to restore using an intuitive interface or for large data sets, the data can be securely couriered back to site for local, high-speed LAN based recovery.
The implementation of Redstor’s online backup solution was very efficient with no system downtime during the shift from the tape-based to online backup process. This ensured that The Academy, Selsey’s transition was pain-free with the end result being that Selsey were successfully backing up over 1TB of critical student data in a much shorter backup window, with significantly less management overhead required.
Daniel comments: “A noticeable difference using Redstor’s online backup has been the time taken to complete a full backup. In the past, it would take approximately two full days. Now the process is completed in a matter of a few hours and I receive an email telling me the backup is complete, which gives me great peace of mind.”
In case of emergency: 100% data restored
On the 21st August 2016, a fire broke out at the school. The fire swiftly grew out of control and within a matter of hours, the school was engulfed in flames.
By the time the fire had been put out, the school had been reduced to a smouldering heap of twisted metal and concrete. 80% of the school was destroyed. All servers in their racks, the network itself as well as the building they were stored in had been destroyed.
The media reported heavily on the incident as the school was set to return from Summer holidays in just a couple of weeks. Following the fire, a BBC news story wrote that “electronic pupil records were being restored from a cloud-based storage system.” The cloud-based storage system in question was Redstor’s cloud backup platform. Daniel credits Redstor with having provided exactly the assistance that was needed in such an emergency.
He says: “After the fire, my attention was drawn to the confidential student and staff data that we hold. It goes without saying that I don’t even want to think about what the consequences of completely losing all that information would have been. The headteacher called me up at 6pm that evening to ask if we had backed up all student data and it was clearly a relief that we had.”
Within just two hours Daniel was able to restore all critical student and staff data residing within SIMS using a high-speed broadband connection. All less critical data was restored in an additional 8-10 hours. The only reason it wasn’t faster was a low-speed USB external hard-drive was used for part of the restore process. “Using online backup was clearly a huge benefit in this particular incident,” says Daniel. “If we had still been using the tape-based backups it would have taken significantly longer, if it had worked at all, as the servers would have had to be rebuilt in order to complete a restore. A member of the Redstor team offered to visit us on-site and was able to assist us with a full restore which made the process a lot smoother.”
Three weeks following the fire, after the start of the new school year, the school is now set up in a temporary location with all of its student and staff data intact. Daniel credits the community and support from The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) as well as Redstor for their help in quickly getting things ready for the students to return. “It has been an unusual time for our students and could have been a distraction from schoolwork. We’ve worked to ensure the return to school is as smooth and stress-free as possible. That’s much easier as we’ve not lost data,” says Daniel.
He concludes: “This is my first time dealing with an incident of this scale but I’m glad we took the precautions of choosing Redstor’s online data backup as it really takes away from the stress of trying to get the school up and running again.”