LIVE@CoSN2024: Exclusive Coverage

IT infrastructure

7 signs of effective IT infrastructure

Realizing full potential means making sure that employees, educators, programs, websites and applications have the best IT infrastructure possible.

Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) ranks among the largest public education systems in the U.S., with 67,000 students across 67 schools—and we’re continuing to grow, adding nearly 1,000 new students a year. While our large size may seem daunting, we’ve been recognized at every level, from state governments all the way to the White House, for our leading role in transforming education through technology.

We’re using technology to give our K-12 students greater choice in what, how, and where they learn by integrating digital learning that supports their interests. Such implementation has led to improved grades, test scores, and graduation rates, and more of our students are going on to attend college.

But our road to revolutionizing the way educators teach and how students learn did not come without its set of challenges. Our mission to give students a leg up on the road to entering a highly educated workforce includes introducing computer coding to kindergartners through play to providing high school students with impactful internships by partnering with local businesses.

Such a dedication to the growth of student learning, across all grades and ages, required an IT infrastructure that could deliver the performance and capacity needed by both physical and virtual environments to drive this collaboration and innovation.

Aging IT Infrastructure Limits Growth

An aging and inflexible storage area network (SAN) was holding us back from realizing the full potential of digital learning and integration. District school websites were often slow, resulting in frustrated users and triggering the need for support calls. We transitioned e-mail to the cloud to allow some leeway, but it wasn’t enough, as our resources were nearly exhausted.

Complex, expensive and slow tape-based backup and recovery systems also proved difficult for our IT team to manage. It could take up to 32 hours to complete full backups of our critical administrative file server, and local restoration required a day to clone from tape. Equally time-consuming were recovery tests for off-site tapes—a plane ride was required to the contracted provider, coupled with countless hours to simply find and restore a single file.

Without a more powerful, flexible, and efficient storage infrastructure, our goal of furthering sustainable operations and scholastic excellence faced significant hurdles.

(Next page:  7 characteristics for successful IT infrastructure)

A Comprehensive Solution: Responsiveness, Accessibility, Savings

A technology refresh was needed. We sought an IT storage solution that offered nonstop, secure data access and fast application response. SCPS selected Greyson Technologies to implement a hybrid array storage platform and backup-to-cloud solution from NetApp. The positive impact was instantly felt. For example, parents and students navigating the Dining Services website to fund lunch accounts saw an immediate difference when response times diminished from over a minute to just seconds.

Our new storage solution has afforded a number of benefits to help us continue to be an innovative driver in leveraging technology in education. Some signs of a successful storage infrastructure include:

  • Agile Operations and Seamless Growth. Uniform management tools across models coupled with nondisruptive maintenance and upgrades have made it easy to support our ever-expanding environment.
  • Flexibility. A hybrid array equipped with both SSD and HDD drives helps us leverage performance and value. Less costly, slower HDDs can be used for less demanding clerical applications while still preserving SDDs to support a faster and more interactive learning environment.
  • Improved Application Performance. A storage solution that optimizes application performance has proven to be an added boon. Proactively monitoring performance over time allows us to gauge behavior and adjust accordingly, like expanding a database configuration linked to a student application.
  • Ample Storage. A cloud-integrated storage appliance with the ability to support up to 160TB of data in the cloud has significantly improved our tape backup and recovery challenges. And easy integration with existing backup software was key, thus enabling the use of familiar tools for a speedy ramp-up.
  • Secure Backup of Data. Aligning our cloud-integrated storage with our Microsoft Azure-based public cloud strategy, which currently includes our Microsoft Office 365 business platform and Canvas Learning Management System, was critical to improving data backup. Nightly backups of critical data are automatically synced to Azure at an 80% faster rate than with tape, all the while keeping data encrypted both in flight and at rest. And recovery times for entire datasets to single files have gone from days and hours to minutes and seconds.
  • Reduced Risk. Removing the need for tape backups has improved recovery time and led to a reduced risk profile; our risk factors have decreased between two-and tenfold.
  • Resources are Maximized. SCPS has been able to achieve a 15-to-1 data reduction ratio in our backup-to-cloud environment. Such resource conservation enables us to further stretch storage resources and reduce monthly cloud storage costs, even as all environments continue to grow.

Our goal at SCPS is to help students realize their full potential. We can better achieve that by making sure that our over 10,000 employees and educators across multiple departments, programs, websites and applications have the best technology at their disposal to support that mission.

Becoming a premier educational system and a national model of excellence does not happen overnight and requires both dedication and keeping up with and implementing the latest technological advancements. Only a robust data storage and backup-to-cloud solution could keep our over 40 departments productive, ranging from Digital Learning and Dining Services to Payroll and Security. And the benefits and savings generated from such a solution only paves the way for more IT enhancements, as SCPS is poised to take our progressive academic strategy to the next level.

Sign up for our K-12 newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at

eSchool News uses cookies to improve your experience. Visit our Privacy Policy for more information.