Today’s institutions of higher education operate a digital mix of traditional classrooms and distance learning options that reach across the country and sometimes, over oceans. In addition to multimedia display systems in lecture rooms, instructors and students collaborate in the physical and virtual worlds via learning management platforms that provide access to courseware, reading materials and communication channels, such as discussion forums and video chats.
The common threads in this technological fabric are data and network infrastructure. Connectivity rules, as professors and pupils alike depend upon digital devices for schooling. In fact, as more and more people opt for individual mobility and remote working capabilities, more and more colleges and universities—especially post-graduate programs— offer degrees that can be earned from anywhere, at any time.
So, when a fire struck the server room of a local college one day during the early hours, the engineering team at TeamLogic IT in Newtown, Pennsylvania understood extensive data loss and network downtime were risks that could threaten the school’s short-and long-term operations.
In a college setting, for example, losing servers could mean losing an array of intellectual property—audio and video from recorded lectures, essays and exams submitted by students, records of scores, grades and other information critical not only to day-to-day business but compliance with accreditation and regulatory agencies.
In a real sense, a lapse in business continuity because of a disaster like the fire could have crippled the college’s operations permanently, damaging its reputation and relationship with students and leading to decreased enrollment— and shrinking tuition revenues.
Thorough Planning, Rapid Response Leads to Speedy Recovery
In this case, the college at risk had worked with the engineering team at TeamLogic IT in Newtown, for nearly five years. TeamLogic IT and the school had implemented a comprehensive Business Continuity solution long before the fire occurred.
“We had their entire environment fully documented, fully tested, fully protected, fully backed up,” the TeamLogic IT director of technology explains. “There wasn’t a single element of IT infrastructure unknown to us—passwords, schema, routing, etc.—as we had conducted annual assessments with the client for several years and already had disaster recovery protocols and procedures in place.”
When the call came to TeamLogic IT in the wee hours, the emergency team sprang into action:
- After firefighters extinguished the blaze, TeamLogic IT personnel were on the scene in less than two hours to assess damage to the college’s IT infrastructure.
- The team’s cabling division ran new lines from a temporary server room established in another building on the college’s grounds.
- A fleet of emergency replacement servers were installed in the temporary quarters quickly, allowing TeamLogic IT to reinstate normal network operations and continue restoring data from backups, while classes recommenced after a brief delay.
“Students were back in class before noon the same day the fire happened,” the TeamLogic IT director of technology says.
In the months following the fire, TeamLogic IT has continued supporting the college by consulting with the local fire department and insurance adjustors to determine the cost of damage and the readiness of replacement systems.
Taking Business Continuity to the Next Level
In the wake of the averted disaster, the TeamLogic IT team is working with the college to avoid future risks.
“Our long-term strategy with the client involves moving more than half of their infrastructure to the cloud.” “Organizations no longer need to host their own servers. Redundant server rooms on-premises are not necessary, as they were in the past.”
This is an important shift, because with a hybrid environment—some operations housed in a physical location and some infrastructure in the cloud—organizations can reduce or even eliminate risks. Fires, water damage, theft, and other hazards are no longer threats to business continuity.
“Yes, technical skills are important when developing Business Continuity solutions,” summarizes the TeamLogic IT director of technology. “But the core of our business as Managed Services Providers is relationships. Our most vital role is bringing clients awareness of business risks—along with the best practices to mitigate those risks.”