Discussing Disaster Recovery Strategy and Cloud at TACC CIO Event

I recently had the privilege of accompanying Kelly Klimpt, the Alvin Community College (ACC) Director of Information Technology at the Southeast Texas Association of Community Colleges. Together we shared the story of their Office365 migration, Logical Front’s Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) hosting as a disaster recovery strategy, their disaster recovery plan and the impact of Hurricane Harvey. We have since launched ongoing plans for future upgrades, however this story stands alone as a remarkable example of staying the course despite mid-project mayhem. For the full details, check out the Alvin Community College Case Study.

If you’ve lead an IT project, you know to account for variables along the way– factoring in things like project elements missing deadlines, or even power outages. In this case, as they were on the brink of creating a cloud mirror service, consisting of a handful of virtual machines to use in the event of an emergency, ACC was hit with a category 4 hurricane. Talk about a true test of a disaster recovery strategy! The area received more than 50 inches of rain in four days, 300,000 structures were damaged in southeast TX, 500,000 cars were flooded, and the state sustained more than $125 billion in damages.

The ACC data center had water seeping under it’s raised floor along with roof and leak damage. To prevent further losses, Klimpt and his team made the gut-wrenching decision to power down the data center for four days.  The entire school closed it’s doors for ten days.

Shortly after the devastating effects of the hurricane. Klimpt was determined to finish phase 2 of the project in his disaster recovery strategy– building out a creative application of eXtensile Hybrid Cloud (XHC), a database mirror to send email authentications to in case of an emergency.

The fail-over testing was completed just seven months after the hurricane. Now faculty and staff (especially Klimpt and his team) at ACC can breathe easy knowing a secure, tier 4 data center has a solid ADFS backup that is just a flip of the switch away.

One of the reasons Logical Front was chosen for this hosting solution—in addition to past successful projects—is that the solution was FAR less expensive than adjusting licensing and obtaining similar service from Microsoft. Plus, Logical Front is very hands-on and tech-heavy, which means getting service and attention is much easier, which makes for a more solid overall solution for a disaster recovery strategy.

We reviewed some key lessons learned along the way:

  • Disaster Recovery critical for key systems
  • Choosing the right partner is vital to success
  • The right partner will augment your over-tasked IT team
  • Choose someone who has been around that block before
  • Consider an extension of your on-premise data center
  • Test prior to a disaster
  • Cloud/hosting solutions (from the right provider) don’t have to be expensive

If you are a CIO or managing the data center or IT projects for your organization, we encourage you to examine your own disaster recovery plan, review your server room capacity,  and engage a trusted partner to consider next steps.

Logical front offers a free assessment that analyzes your strengths and vulnerabilities, and gives you the most strategic, cost-effective ways to migrate data to the cloud, and documentation to help obtain funding and priority from the organization. Engage us today to learn more.

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