East London school discovers the benefits of virtualised IT system

Backing up used to take nine hours – now it’s less than half an hour for a terabyte of data.

July 11, 2013

Backing up used to take nine hours – now it’s less than half an hour for a terabyte of data.

Schools are not usually high on the list of examples of IT best practices. But in the case of East London’s Stirling High School, one music teacher / IT manager is showing how virtualisation can save time, save money and make the school’s entire IT infrastructure more useful and efficient.

When Leonard Brandt first joined the staff of government school Stirling High in 2000, it had a reputation as one of the IT leaders in the Eastern Cape. In those days, that meant two computer labs with a total of 60 workstations, running either Windows or DOS off floppy drives. There was one dial-up Internet connection for staff and one for students, and no servers.

Today, the picture is very different. Today there are 10 servers and three labs with a total of 120 workstations, and 80% of the school’s IT environment is virtualised.

Given the budget constraints that every school faces, it took four years to complete the virtualisation project – but, says Brandt, “I have never regretted the decisions, and I would strongly urge my colleagues at other schools to consider virtualising. It has made an enormous difference and had a tremendous impact on every aspect of the school and its IT infrastructure and data.”

Brandt says getting the right tools in place to manage his virtual environment was an important step – and that Veeam Backup and Replication has proved critical to the overall success of the project.

“Tape backups were slow to make, and it took a long time to restore lost data,” he says. “As a one-man IT team, I needed something that was fast, easy to use and would fit within my limited budget. Veeam Backup and Replication has been the perfect solution.”

The solution’s speed was the first thing Brandt noticed: “At first I couldn’t believe how fast it was. Backing up used to take nine hours – now it’s less than half an hour for a terabyte of data. That means I can back up every night – or more often if I want to, because the backup process doesn’t interfere with staff or student work.”

Every backup is tested, and Brandt gets an email after every run to let him know it was successful. “That alone has saved me a lot of time,” he says. “Before, I had to physically find the drive and double-check the time stamps to make sure a backup had run. Now I just check each morning to see what servers were backed up. Veeam gives me total peace of mind that all our critical data such as student records is safe.”

Time is saved at recovery as well: “In the old days if a file was lost, I would have been able to recover it eventually, but it would have taken time. Now, with Veeam, I can go back to the backup that occurred immediately before the data was deleted and recover the file in five minutes. I can essentially go back to any point in time; that’s just brilliant.”

Veeam has also helped Brandt get more out of his limited disk storage space. “We used to back up only data, but now we can back up an entire virtual machine. We essentially have more data and restore points stored in the same amount of space.”