Leading technology executives in the state of Ohio were trying to manage the storage needs of more than 730 schools districts across the state - each with different needs, storage capabilities and operating systems - all while maintaining proper disaster recovery assurance. Consolidating storage of all the school districts with a backup appliance sounded like a nearly impossible task.


In Ohio, a network of 23 IT Centers (ITCs) represent more than 730 school districts, as well as educational service centers, community schools and approximately 1.6 million students. The main responsibility of the ITCs is to provide services to all the school districts across the state.


The Management Council-Ohio Education Computer Network (MCOECN) provides leadership for effective and efficient IT for the pre-kindergarten through grade 12 learning community in Ohio. Three years ago, MCOECN, which oversees the 23 ITC’s, decided it was time to standardize on a storage backup device to be used by the state's school districts.


The most important part of the project was linking the storage device to a disaster recovery site that could ensure all data would be recovered in case a disaster occured.


After exploring backup solutions options, the MCOECN made the decision to install the STORServer Appliance for local disk-to-disk and disk-to-tape backup and archiving. The decision to standardize on the STORServer Appliance was based primarily on its ease of use and installation. In addition, STORServer can handle 100 percent of the operating system environments the ITCs deal with, including Windows, Macintosh and Red Hat Linux.


The STORServer Appliance is a policy-based solution that manages backup, archive and disaster recovery. The solution is platform neutral, LAN friendly and includes the server, software, disk, tape, integration, installation and on-going support. 


STORServer's ability to tier hierarchically allows appliances to be put in the ITCs to be utilized for local archival backups and the data to be communicated to an appliance at an off-site location. The appliance can transfer backup data securely to the disaster recovery site. In the case of a disaster, whether it's one of the ITCs going down or all of them, STORServer can quickly have them up and running very quickly, because the latest recovery data is located at the disaster recovery site at all times.


There have been a handful of nearly disastrous encounters, including fires and power outages, which made the MCOECN realize the installation of a data backup and recovery appliance was absolutely necessary. With STORServer, the organization finally has peace of mind knowing that in the case of data loss due to another disaster, the ITCs will have no trouble recovering their data.


A central disaster recovery facility was acquired and equipped beginning in February 2008. The site went live and was added to the ITC network with a 10GB per second connection in late August 2008.


Currently, 14 of the 23 ITCs have standardized on the STORServer Appliance. Within the next three years, the MCOECN believes more than 75 percent of the ITCs will be using the STORServer Appliance.


The key to making disaster recovery and business continuity services effective is to provide standardization on a few key, powerful technologies. The MCOECN has leveraged the use of a suite of common software applications, VMware virtualization technology, high-speed intrastate networking and STORServer’s backup and archival technologies. This enabled the MCOECN to provide automated off-site data backup and archival services coupled with disaster recovery and business continuity services to the Ohio pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educational community at a fraction of the cost that each organization could have built these services individually.


No other state is currently doing what Ohio and STORServer are doing together. A state-wide implementation of a storage appliance has been unheard of until now, and the MCOECN is excited to be working with STORServer.

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