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Education in Focus: Biggest IT Refresh Year Ever

Education IT

There comes a point in the academic year where exams ramp up, teachers, lectures and support staff are focused on getting student’s through their end of year exams and keeping the momentum up until the summer break.

Meanwhile in the cool dark of the server room, the IT Support teams across all academic settings are preparing for the calm before the storm.

This year, while we may not be seeing exams like we previously would, the IT Teams in our educational establishments are preparing for their busiest summer refreshes ever. The woes of 2020 are behind us and the shift to classroom learning returning for 2021/22, the push is on to make the infrastructure improvements that were put off during COVID.

Saying all that, budgets are likely to also be tighter than ever. So how can IT teams get the absolute most out of their IT projects?

To help we have put together 5 top tips for smashing your summer projects in 2021

Plan Early

When it comes to any form of IT project the further ahead you are planning the better chance of success you have, so start early!

Engage vendors and technology partners. Test the market and understand your options. If you are looking 6 months ahead of where you need to be, then when do you have to make the choice on the technology or the vendors you are going to use? Be armed with all the information you need so you can overcome the challenges the project throws at you.

School ITHave a contingency plan

As you begin to plan your project, look at the what if’s…

For example, if you are replacing a server infrastructure, what happens if the new servers fail? Or before you have moved the data, if the old servers fail, do you have a backup? Have you tested it?

By implementing a rock-solid contingency plan you are positioning yourselves in such a way that you can overcome whatever challenges come your way.

Choose a partner you can trust

Remember you are not in this alone.

Whatever the chosen project you are undertaking there are partners who will help you achieve the goals of your organisation. However not all partners are equal. Not all partners have the same approach.

Find a partner who has the certifications and accreditations with the vendors you want to work with, i.e Dell Gold Partner or Microsoft Gold Partner with certified engineers. Don’t settle for “the local firm” as 9 times out of 10 they will get out of their depth very quickly. They’ll can end up making the challenges of delivering IT in education much worse.

So, pick a partner you can trust, and you know when you’re up against it, will have your back!

Only choose best of breed technology and don’t settle for last generation.

Lots of companies see education as an opportunity to move stock which the corporate world no longer wants – for example, servers which are now end of sale or software which has been pushed into its last few operational years.

You should never settle for anything other than the best in breed technology for your establishment. If budgets constrain that, reduce the scope of the project or limit the technology used. Don’t settle for old, refurbished or reconditioned equipment just to hit a financial goal. In the long term, you will pay the price when the equipment cannot be serviced and needs replacing before the business has got the full value from the solution.

Maximise gains using operations leasing

When making purchases in education, you have a great opportunity to access low cost or even free finance offerings for all of your large purchases. So, leverage these deals to extend your budget.

Limit the capex spend and get the best solution you can and prevent the project delays of stretching upgrades over 2-3 years which really need to be done today.

Using these top tips, your organisations should be able to avoid the pitfalls of so many education providers in the past and make sure you take step in the right direction when making your upgrade this summer.

Just remember you are not alone. At Planet IT we have a team of specialists who can not only support you with the decision making and selection of new equipment, but can support with the role out, implementations and upgrades to your systems.

If you want to talk to one of our educational team about how we can help you with your summer projects then please call 01235 433900 or you can email architecture@planet-it.net or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

 

Backup Webinar Recap: The Uncomfortable Truths

Backup webinar recap

This week, we hosted a Live Webinar based all around the Uncomfortable Truths about your Backups.

Our resident Backup guru, Michael Davey was joined by Arcserve expert, Steve Butterfield and between them they covered

✅ Microsoft 365 data protection

✅ Immutable storage & Ransomware Protection

✅ How are you storing your data & the 3-2-1 rule

✅ Scaling your infrastructure with Backup & DR

✅ How to combat storage creep

 

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Your Questions, Answered.

We received lots of questions throughout the webinar. Unfortunately we weren’t able to answer them all during the live session so we have compiled them all and asked Michael and Steve to answer them again.

Remember, if you you would like to find out more about backup in general or speak about your own backups specifically, get in reach out to your Planet IT account manager, call 01235 433900 or email enquiries@planet-it.net

 

Would cycled tapes not be immutable being out of the drive most of the time?

Tape and especially WORM tape were the original air-gapped / immutable storage

While out of the drive then tapes are largely immutable outside of extremes involving strong magnets, But you do have to put them in the libraries to use them which brings two issues,

1. They are available to be overwritten while in the library.

2. They require manual intervention to remove/replace.

However, definitely a big improvement over no airgap.

 

What is the licensing model? Is it based upon per user for 365 and per source TB for onsite storage?

Universal licensing which runs on your own hardware or VM covers all data sources including O365 and so is

licensed per TB of protected data, no limits on retention and can be any mix of Physical machines, Virtual machines and O365

Per user licensing is also available and may be of interest if you are adding it to existing Arcserve licensing.

Per user or per TB licensing is available from our cloud (SAS Offering )subject to a max of 100 users per TB for capacity based licensing )

 

The reason people do Full backups is because incremental backups all depend on the previous ones , isn’t that a disaster waiting to happen with incremental forever ?

Our Incrementals act and restore like Full backups, they do not depend on any other incremental backup therefore one “Broken” incremental affects neither the incremental before or after it.

 

What is the most common security breach you see that can also impact backups?

I think Michael answered this but a stat for you from Sophos “The state of Ransomware 2021”

37% of the 5400 respondents surveyed were hit by Ransomware in the last year

Ransomware is still the major threat

 

 

A pretty bold statement was made “Completely Ransomware Safe” Can you back this claim with something factual?

Like Unsinkable ships, Completely ransomware safe is conditional on the type of attack i.e. Nothing is completely safe if Physical access is allowed for instance , however we believe that our Ransomware capability is the strongest and most complete in the industry and we are the only backup vendor to offer a Money Back Guarantee.

For 0365 backup only do we need an onsite appliance?

You have choice, You can purchase Arcserve UDP and have it protect O365 in the following ways

  1. An Appliance running on Prem or in hosted Colo
  2. Software running on your own hardware, VM or in your own public or private cloud instance
  3. Software as a service running from our Cloud based from our Datacentre in Manchester or AWS in London ( Other Geo’s are available )

While On-Prem may seem an odd choice to some for a cloud based service, do remember the 3-2-1 rule and the fact that even in the event of an Internet or Azure outage you could still access your data locally. The main thing is it is held elsewhere so we would always caution against any service backing up O365 which is hosted in Azure

 

 

4 Steps to the Perfect Backup Plan

Backup Plan

Today is World Backup Day, for many it’s a day to be celebrated, but for just as many, it’s a stark reminder of the dark omen that is an uncertain backup environment or plan.

We all know the basics of backup right? The things we all want to achieve

  • Retention
  • Redundancy
  • Recovery

I could happily go on for far longer than any of you would care to read on each of these topics! Today however, I want to talk about the practical elements of making sure your backups and overall disaster recovery plan are the best they can be. Starting with some basic questions.

  • Are you backing up your whole environment?
  • Are you running your backups daily?
  • Are your backups retained for the right amount of time?
  • Do you take backups off-site?
  • Are your backup sets fully automated?
  • Are your backup jobs encrypted?
  • If you have cloud resources (Office 365, Azure, AWS) are these backed up?
backup servers

In an ideal world, you would want each of the above to be a confident and resounding YES! However, this is not always the case – we often hear the ill-fated “I don’t know”.

So, what can we do to be certain on the above and confidently rest knowing our backups will be there for us should the worst occur?

Step 1 – Check the List 

Firstly, I would start by checking your infrastructure or approach your IT Team to get the answers to the above questions. Understand that if the answer to any of them is no, in this first step, it’s less important to know why, just to understand the position you are currently in. Once you’ve established that, let’s move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Check the Kit 

Once you have a firm understanding of your overall backup integrity, it’s time to push past the smoke and mirrors and figure out exactly what you are working with. Check your storage, check your software and make sure it isn’t letting you down. There are so many options available in today’s market, but a quick search of your products and the competition should help you understand if you need to make any changes.

Step 3 – Make your Plan

At this point, you’re either happily relishing in confidence… or you’re not.

If you’re not… bear with me, I promise, we’ve just ripped off the worst of the band-aids and from here… the only way is up. When making your plan, it’s important to work out what you need first, what you want second and then figure out the cost implications (if any) your business will need to work towards. Everyone loves a good deal (or better, a free deal!) but sometimes investment is required to ensure you have the right infrastructure for your plan. When making your plan, make sure you are referencing the list from Step 1 and work out the following:

  • How long do I want to keep my backups?
  • What is my off-site storage plan?
  • Do I have Cloud Resources that need to be backed up?
  • How efficient do I want my backups to be?
  • How long can I afford to be offline in the event of a disaster?
  • How much data can I afford to lose in the event of a disaster?

The answers to these questions will help you to understand how much storage you need, whether you need a cloud or second-site storage plan, if you need high performance equipment and your Recovery Point/Time Objectives. Know that even if the plan is loose, it’s more than you had at Step 1 and it will help you enormously when collaborating with your teams, suppliers and peers to achieve the best outcome.

Backup plan relax

Step 4 – Reach Out 

At this point, we’ve gone from scratching our heads, to having a clear understanding of the potential issues, a goal to aim for and a plan to get there. Now it’s time to reach out.

Speak to your team and your suppliers and get them on board with your plan. From this point forward, you’re taking control of your backup & disaster recovery plan. You’ve worked out what you want to achieve and you’re making it happen. That, or you were happy from Step 1 – either way, grab a coffee and your favourite lockdown biscuit, you’ve earned it!

Remember, if you ever have any questions, just ask. I, or one of the team here at Planet IT, are always happy to be used as a sounding board and can offer our expertise for your specific situation.

Similarly, check out our BDRaaS page for more information

Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn or email me at michael.davey@planet-it.net.

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