6 IT nightmares plaguing schools-and 6 solutions to stop them

Many school IT departments are struggling to create new data backup and business continuity practices.

From constricted budgets to needing to protect large numbers of devices and users, educational institutions face a unique set requirements for data protection and business continuity.

As a result, many school IT departments are struggling to create new data backup and business continuity practices. However, all is not lost and there is no need to create these from scratch, as leading education institutions are already leveraging enterprise-class protection capabilities.

Here are six facts that experts in educational backup and continuity services already know:

Challenge #1: Budget

There is perhaps no industry with more budget restraints than education. Most school districts have few IT resources with little time that can be spent managing backups and recovering lost files. If ever there was an industry that is required to do more with less, it is education.

Every moment spent managing and troubleshooting backup issues is time not available for IT’s real job: working with the administration to improve student education. Carl Jaspersohn, associate director of Infrastructure, Boston Architectural College commented “We have a small IT administrative staff with very little cross-training/overlap in responsibilities. Our budget isn’t big compared to larger schools, but demands on IT are still high due to the nature of the work done here.”

What the Experts Know – Educational institutions are now selecting backup and continuity appliances and purpose built devices, to replicate data locally to a remote location or to the cloud. Appliances are easy to deploy and have a user interface dedicated to scheduling, monitoring and managing backup files. The best backup appliances can also serve as a recovery platform since the backup data files are already on the appliance. This provides business continuity in case the original server or application is unavailable.

Challenge #2: Security Requirements

The protection requirements of educational institutions are different from other industries. Education is unique in that there are large numbers of fairly unsophisticated users who are prone to making mistakes. They are quick to click on dangerous links or delete and lose files that they may need in the future. Bryan Young, network administrator, Rocky Hill, CN Public Schools stated “The school district consists of an enrollment of about 2,600 students with more than 3,000 user accounts, 2,000 devices, and 50 servers as well as a network that spans across six locations.”

In a 2016 study by CoSN, nearly 90 percent of education respondents expect their instructional materials to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years. The volume of data is growing quickly, and the most requested data recovery service in educational institutions is to restore files or folders that have been mistakenly deleted.

What the Experts Know – It should take you less than 5 minutes to log on, find the requested file in the backup repository, and restore it to the user account. This is possible with disk-based backups and the five-minute rule should apply whether you are restoring an individual file, folder or entire data set. The User Interface (UI) of the appliance should be easy enough for untrained staff to perform this task, as restores are far and away the most requested data backup job required of IT staffers.

(Next page: IT challenges 3-6)

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