A regional school board is taking steps to ensure the 45,000 public school students it serves can’t use the old “”the computer ate my homework”” excuse any more.

Halton District School Board (HDSB) said last week it was

almost through the first stage of a project that will see Computer Associates’ BrightStor Enterprise Backup software agents deployed across 85 sites. These include 16 high schools and 69 elementary schools.

HDSB network operations manager Fern Pinho said the board began the project not long after it planned to create student portfolios — a slice of disk that would be assigned to students once they learn to read and write and which follow them all the way through school. Pinho said he was concerned the school couldn’t guarantee the safety of the data, given the different ways it was backed up. At the high schools, for examples, manual intervention was required to change tapes, while the elementary schools were mirroring hard drives.

“”There were a few incidents — one where a school lost the user data,”” he said. “”It turns out they weren’t backing up,”” he said. “”This was happening all over the place. It was like, ‘Oops! What do you mean, we haven’t been doing it for weeks?'””

Instead of spending around $7,000 on a Super DLT tape drive — which might not get changed anyway — Pinho said the board began to examine CA’s BrightStor line. A long-time user of CA’s ArcView product, the board got a close-up of BrightStor at the CA World user conference in Orlando last year.

In the second phase of the project, HDSB is hoping to work with Hewlett-Packard technology to grow its storage area network (SAN) to centralize its data. For now, BrightStor agents do a full backup about every two weeks to a disk pool that has been created on the SAN as well as an incremental backup every night.

“”Every day you go to one single DLT tape drive, which is nice, and stream it off, basically,”” he said.

Though the amount of human intervention has been removed, Pinho said calculating cost savings is hard to do. Instead, he said he uses metrics that involve reduction of labour — and risk.

“”Nobody has to do anything; they don’t have to intervene on the server. You remove 87 ants possibly doing damage to the system,”” he said.

Besides the backup capability, Pinho said BrightStor will minimize the strain on the board’s wireless area network as it deploys bandwidth-intensive applications, such as distance learning and multimedia.

CA said BrightStor would also integrate with the Unicenter suite of products that HDSB uses for desktop and server management.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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