Set within an impressive 700-acre estate in the Surrey Hills in South-East England, Woldingham School is one of the top girls boarding schools in England and provides world-class education to both home and international 11 to 18-year old’s.
It was established in 1842 as Covent of the Sacred Heart, with a legacy of Sacred Heart principles and values. The school is founded on the principles of respect for intellectual values, a sense of community, social awareness, the importance of personal growth and the development of an individual Christian faith.
With first class facilities for drama, music and sport, the school is very proud of its excellent record of public examination success alongside an extensive choice of extra-curricular activities.
The 200-acre main school site is comprised of a mix of traditional and modern buildings for teaching, boarding accommodation for over 350 pupils and over 50 houses and flats for teaching and support staff.
With over 550 students and 200 staff on premise, IT operations manager Edd Rogers, and his IT team of four, manage a complex network with high demand to support the teaching and learning, the school’s business elements and the social use of technology for entertainment and communication.
A need for a faster, reliable backup solution
One of the challenges within Woldingham’s environment is making sure all of the data stored across the network is backed up and available easily should anything go wrong.
Prior to implementing a dedicated online backup solution, the school was utilising a hybrid solution to backup both physical and virtual servers which meant that once the data had been backed up to a storage array, a copy of that data would then be transferred to tape. Whilst the solution had been adequate in the past, the significant increase in student and staff data challenged the scalability of the solution. It became clear they were in need of an upgrade.
Rogers explains: “It was becoming increasingly obvious that the software we were using was struggling to meet our needs. We needed to backup more data each night than the backup solution could manage without affecting the performance of the network during the school day and evenings. It wasn’t uncommon to come in first thing in the morning and see the process was still running or that it would have issues that needed troubleshooting.
“When making full backups for end of term archives it could take up to three days before we had a copy on tape that we could store securely. In short, the team and I were spending a lot of time fixing issues to ensure we had a reliable backup of our data.”
In addition to an out of date solution, the school found that because they were using separate providers for the virtual and physical backup, they didn’t have a single point of contact for support.
“Towards the end of using our old solution we were finding that we had issues on a daily basis. This problem was intensified by having no support contracts,” comments Toby Peyton, Infrastructure Specialist at Woldingham School.
He continues: “Thankfully we never experienced an issue where we lost any student data whilst using our previous backup solution. However, the thought was constantly on my mind as everyone would look to us if an incident did occur. That was one of our main motivations to begin looking for an alternative option.”
Implementing a dedicated backup service provider
The IT team began looking for a new backup solution in 2013 with a list of specific criteria that needed to be met. They were also conscious that they needed a provider that was reliable, supportive and could justify monetary investment.
“Ideally we were looking for a solution that would minimise us having to maintain and manage the backup process. We were also looking to back up around 4TB of data and with the possibility for the amount of data to increase; we needed something that would be scalable,” comments Rogers. “In addition to needing a reliable solution provider we also wanted to use a service that would provide a greater level of support than our previous offering.”
Having looked at a number of solutions, Edd Rogers and his team met Redstor in January 2015. Following a demo of the Redstor Backup for Schools Service (RBUSS), the solution was rolled out at the school in August the same year.
Rogers says: “We had looked at a number of providers throughout our search but when we had a demo with Redstor they instantly stood out to me. As we were running through their RBUSS offering I was mentally ticking off all the boxes in my head. It was perfect.”
Following a smooth implementation process, with no downtime due to the school overlapping their old backup with Redstor, the school is now successfully backing up over 4TB of student and staff data.
Redstor’s cloud backup solution provides schools with quick, cost-effective, secure offsite backup; allowing them to recover data anytime and anywhere. In addition, the service guarantees security by ensuring that data is encrypted at source, in transit and at rest in Redstor’s data centres using either 128-bit AES, 256-bit AES or 448-bit Blowfish security.
The RBUSS offering is also ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 certified which allows organisations to comply with the legislation and guidelines which are outlined by Ofsted, Data Protection Act and The Information Commissioner’s Office. These guidelines require schools to securely backup data off-site on a daily basis. Using Redstor’s solutions means that Woldingham School have greater peace of mind that they are continuing to comply with these guidelines.
“One of the biggest differences since rolling out Redstor’s RBUSS has been the usability and reliability of the solution. The backup is usually complete within just one hour and there is significantly less time troubleshooting any problems. I leave the backup to complete by itself and remain confident the process will complete with no issues. It gives me great peace of mind, we have a full report in the morning so we know immediately if there have been any issues,” says Rogers.
Redstor’s solution is fully automated and simplifies the management of the software for the IT team; meaning that it reduces time spent ensuring a backup completes. The service also addresses the challenge of coping with data growth within the school as Redstor’s service can scale without any additional hardware or software requirements.
In early 2016 the school encountered an issue whereby they lost access to one of their servers. By carrying out Redstor’s restore process, they were able to recover all data and up and running within a few hours. “If we had still been using our old solution, I’m not confident the restore process would have been as simple,” comments Mr Rogers following the incident.
He concludes: “Our overall experience of working with Redstor has been fantastic. From the excellent backup offering, ongoing technical support and dedicated account manager, we have been extremely happy since partnering with them.”