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Redstor and Education Bradford

Education Bradford Select RBUSS to Improve Services.

"The online backup service from Redstor has completely transformed how we backup school data so much so that we have no hesitation in recommending it to other authorities"

The Local Education Authority is based on collaboration between Bradford Council and Serco PLC, an international service company which combines commercial know-how with a public service ethos. It improves services by managing people, processes, technology and assets more effectively.

There are 208 schools in the district and Education Bradford works with 180 of these, which subscribe to its ICT support and training offering. Within these schools, the backup regime has been largely managed by the school and as such a number of different types of tape based technology were used including Digital Linear Tape (DLT) and Digital Audio Tape (DAT). There was also a lack of standard on backup software. For a support organisation this was causing administration headaches for the team and resulting in lost data and time.

Bradford has a population of 497,400, making it the fourth-most populous metropolitan district and the sixth-most populous local authority in the UK. It forms part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area which has a population of 1.5 million. The city itself is part of the Leeds-Bradford Larger Urban Zone, which is the third largest in the UK after London and Manchester. With 208 schools split between secondary, primary, nursery, special and a mix of pupil referral units, the challenge was to manage and administer this already large and still growing volume of data at these schools, one of the main problems was the time it was taking to back up to tape and as a result Education Bradford wanted to move to a centrally managed disk-to-disk backup solution to improve its data management capabilities and processes as well as reducing costs.

Education Bradford provided guidelines to schools on the importance of data backup, how to perform recoveries and tips on correct backup policies for critical applications such as Schools Information Management System (SIMS) by Capita, Management Information Systems (MIS) and office data, however the backup solutions within these schools were still erratic, disparate and in some cases nonexistent. Even with these published guidelines, the Local Authority (LA) was expected to support the school when backups failed or the school needed to recover data. The experience of the LA was that this was virtually an impossible exercise as data recovery and backup could not be guaranteed with the current system. "A recent example of data loss happened when one of our engineers went to a school to install a new printer and whilst on site the school was experiencing a failed hard drive." said Wendell James, CSMG, Manager at Education Bradford. "When the engineer looked into the problem, he was shocked to find the school had not successfully backed up for over 6 months! We spent quite some time at the site trying to recover lost data especially as the school in question was preparing for their Ofsted visit".

Unfortunately the LA was unable to fully recover all the data which included financial information, pupil tracking and also vital student information required for the annual pupil census. In an effort to solve these backup issues and ensure the protection of school data, delegates from the LA attended a Capita conference where they became aware of the Redstor Backup for Schools (RBUSS) solution accredited by Capita. After an initial consultation with Redstor, the LA decided to proceed with a limited trial of the service in ten schools over a period of eight weeks to experience the Redstor Backup for Schools (RBUSS) benefits and ease of use.

"We saw immediate results after running the service for only a few days - they were remarkable. We could see the data backup and monitor each school, which meant Redstor could provide a level of service that neither we nor the school had experienced before. Quite literally overnight these schools had a fully working, monitored backup with full disaster recovery elements built in." said Wendell James CSMG Manager at Education Bradford.

The RBUSS solution fully backs up data selected at each school; the information is compressed and encrypted to the highest level before transfer across the Internet to the LA datacentre. Once the first full backup is complete, only changed data is then backed up to reduce data transfer and duplication efforts. Recovery is fast and simple; the data is presented from a disk based system and not tape, making the recovery far quicker depending on the size of the file. Service level agreements can also be tailored depending on budget, recovery objectives and responsibilities so that the LA can offer a fully managed backup service to all its schools.

At the trial of ten schools, backup related issues were virtually eliminated and general support related calls dropped by over 20%. "As soon as other schools heard what we were doing we were inundated with enquiries. Redstor helped us with all the requests by providing some branded marketing material for us to use to explain the benefits of the service more clearly and easily for the other schools." Wendell James CSMG Manager added "Since we went live over 130 schools have now started running the RBUSS service and they have told us they won't go back to tape. The service we received from Redstor in setting up the solution, budgeting, marketing and deployment has been second to none and it's made all the difference. The Redstor Backup for Schools service has completely transformed how we backup all school data and I have no hesitation in recommending it to other authorities".

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