An appliance approach to data backup

A single technological development – backup appliances – has resulted in a giant leap in automation in the past three years for all three data recovery functions.

What are we hearing in the educational arena regarding IT today? Use resources as efficiently as possible. Get more out of what we have. Leverage a well-working IT implementation across multiple departments. Balance rising maintenance costs against cost-saving new technologies.

The austere mantras reverberate everywhere.

Backup appliances have found an industry in which they are needed more than ever. Automating data protection and cutting the costs of manual tasks could fit the bill for many school and university IT departments that have not taken the backup appliance plunge. An added benefit? Doing so creates cost savings in data protection while increasing new data recovery expectations.

Data recovery solutions should always include all three major areas for ensuring restores: backup, archive, and disaster recovery. Implementing technology to perform these three key functions separately creates huge divides in both management and successful implementation. Skipping out on any one of these areas will leave the facility both vulnerable and out of compliance.

A single technological development – backup appliances – has resulted in a giant leap in automation in the past three years for all three data recovery functions. Bundling all the components required for data recovery is a thing of the past. The modern solution? IT departments now purchase this all-in-one data recovery solution designed for enterprise-class operations. However, this platform is not relegated to just universities. The smallest school districts share similar requirements: multiple platforms, remote offices, large numbers of users (at every level), separate retention expectations from different departments, and a host of legal rules to follow.

All backup appliances are not made equal

As appliances now constitute a major category for purchasing a backup solution, one thing needs to be made clear: all backup appliances are not the same. The reasons for automating a typical “pieces and parts bundled solution” into an appliance identify the very elements for how appliances are different—software, technologies, hardware, support, and the “other” parameters. Let’s take a look at each of these components:

Software

Software is the ultimate automation transformer of all time. Of course, it is just a bunch of weightless ones and zeros without hardware, but frankly, the software rules.

Consider the software’s database engine and its ability to manage complexity. Users must have a “relational” database in the software. The database must expand into dizzyingly huge sizes. Limits on growth send backup administrators into apoplexy.

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In heart of Silicon Valley, school succeeds with no-tech education

The Waldorf School of the Peninsula sits in the midst of Silicon Valley, home to the nation’s leading tech companies and startups. It educates the children of tech gurus and executives of the technological industry. But the school itself teaches without digital assistance, the Huffington Post reports. As schools across the country try to fit the digital era into lessons by experimenting with iPads as textbooks and reverse classroom models, the Waldorf School, a private institution, sticks to its hundred-year-old ways: blackboards and chalk. No computers in elementary grades, and sparse use of technology in high school grades. In an NBC report that follows an October story in The New York Times, teachers tell NBC’s Rehema Ellis that they don’t shun technology, just advocate healthy education. Waldorf has a nearly 100 percent rate of graduation…

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HIV positive boy denied admission sues Hershey school

The family of an HIV-positive boy sued a boarding school in Hershey, Pennsylvania after it denied admission to the 13-year-old citing safety concerns, a school official said on Thursday, Reuters reports. The Milton Hershey School, a cost-free, private school for roughly 1,850 socially disadvantaged pre-kindergarten through high school students founded by the Hershey chocolate company, defended the controversial decision.

“In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others,” said Connie McNamara, a spokesman for the Milton Hershey School, located roughly 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia…

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Should schools alone be held accountable for student achievement?

What if schools didn’t have to work alone to improve student achievement? That was the question we asked in a recent article about the miserable state of public education in Camden, N.J., one of the poorest cities in the country, the Hechinger Report’s HechingerEd blog reports. Now, a study by Education Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based education policy think tank, delves further into the question of whether public schools should share responsibility for improving the academic outcomes of impoverished children. The argument is that non-school agencies–after-school organizations, public housing departments, local colleges and universities–should also be held accountable for student success…

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Opinion: Why gifted students can be so challenging

What do Woody Allen and Steve Jobs have in common? Among other things (including brilliant, creative minds), they both hated school and were discipline problems, says Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University and author of a monthly column on education for the Marin Independent Journal, for the Washington Post. Allen once said, “I loathed every day and regret every moment I spent in school.” Jobs noted, “I was pretty bored at school and turned into a little tyrant.”  Who are their counterparts today? How are schools dealing today with bright, creative students who are bored out of their minds in class?

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Student brutally beaten in school bathroom in ’30 seconds’ game

The family of a Detroit 8th-grader who was filmed being brutally beaten in a school bathroom says they are outraged by the way the school handled the situation, which reportedly happened on several occasions, the Huffington Post reports. In a game called “30 seconds,” one girl beats another while peers time and film the brawl at Ludington Middle School. One 13-year-old student, Jasmine Crawley, was one of the victims, and her family tells WJBK-TV that while school administrators knew about the “game,” they chose to turn a blind eye. Comments like “Snitches get stitches” on her Facebook page reportedly threaten her for going public.

“They felt like because this was a game, nobody got in trouble, not the people instigating, not the people that were fighting,” Crawley’s sister Arletha Newby told WJBK-TV…

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States make strides in collecting education data

States are implementing robust data systems that could inform tough education decisions, but they need to do more with the data they collect, the Data Quality Campaign says.

Although states have made strong progress increasing their capacity to build and use longitudinal data systems, they aren’t yet helping educators, parents, and other stakeholders use the data to inform decisions to improve student achievement, according to the Data Quality Campaign’s seventh annual state analysis, Data for Action 2011.

More states than ever—36, up from zero in 2005 and 25 states in 2010—have implemented all of DQC’s 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, and 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have implemented eight or more. This means that, without exception, every state in the country has robust longitudinal data extending beyond test scores that could inform today’s toughest education decisions.

Those 10 elements include:

1. A unique student identifier (52 states/territories)
2. Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information (52)
3. The ability to match individual students’ test records from year to year to measure academic growth (52)
4. Information on untested students and the reasons why they were not tested (51)
5. A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to specific students (44)
6. Student-level transcript data, including information on courses completed and grades earned (41)
7. Student-level college readiness test scores (50)
8. Student-level graduation and dropout data (52)
9. The ability to match student records between the P-12 and postsecondary systems (49)
10. A state data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability (52)

“States have worked so diligently to build their capacity to collect and use quality education data, but we will see improved student achievement only when all stakeholders—from parents to policy makers—actually use these data to make informed decisions,” said Aimee Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign. “The need is urgent: State policy makers are right now in the process of allocating scarce resources based on what works to help students, and they cannot do that well without data.”

Despite the huge progress in building longitudinal data systems, no state has taken all of the 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, which create a culture in which stakeholders use the rich data states now collect to improve education.

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Poor schools don’t get “fair share”: Education Department

Many poor public schools do not pay teachers and educators as much as wealthier schools just a few miles away, according to a survey of 13,000 school districts the U.S. Department of Education released on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The department found that more than 40 percent of schools with low-income students spend less per pupil than other public schools in the same district.

“Many public schools serving low-income children aren’t getting their fair share of state and local education funding,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan on a conference call with reporters, adding that the survey encompassing the 2008-09 school year “confirmed an unfortunate reality.”

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