How SHI solved this school district’s backup problem with AWS

 In |

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Texas school district knew it had to do something about its backup situation.

At the time, it was using two products for its backups — one for its databases and one for its original infrastructure – and both were directing data locally to its storage area network (SAN) environment. This single point of failure was not ideal.

The school district needed to separate its backups from its primary storage and house them in a separate physical location. It also needed a new disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) solution as its DR equipment was outdated, out of warranty, and pretty much sitting dormant.

A cost analysis confirmed the obvious: Going to the cloud made the most sense. Instead of spending millions of dollars on additional hardware in a colocation data center, the school district could just use the services it needed.

The school district chose Cohesity for its physical backups and Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its cloud solution. It had the ability to physically isolate backups that were replicated to the cloud, and to spin up virtual servers in a DR event while offering BC as well.

This all sounds perfect, right? It would be, as soon as the school district could get it all up and running. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the skills or resources to do so in house.

There’s more to the solution

When the school district purchased the Cohesity solution, the process seemed simple. Just spin up your virtual machines (VMs) in AWS and you’re good to go. It’s a little more complicated than that.

The school district was in a bind. It had been unaware it needed additional infrastructure in AWS to run its applications in the cloud.

It needed to be able to fail over its two applications to AWS while meeting a 24-hour recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). More importantly, the school district needed help building and documenting the fundamental elements of a strong AWS foundation.

Given that there wasn’t anyone in the school district with cloud experience, it turned to a partner it could trust: SHI.

Establishing an AWS infrastructure and providing guidance through the finish line

SHI started by conducting a discovery session. It worked closely with the school district to determine any preexisting cloud design guidelines and standards, vision, and goals that needed to be taken into consideration. SHI also determined the school district’s goals for using Cohesity in the cloud.

SHI created two separate AWS accounts for the school district: production and sandbox, and helped the school district through the stages of cloud setup and adoption:

  1. Setup and documentation. SHI guided the customer’s enterprise services team in the basic design of the AWS account. It linked the sandbox and production accounts while delivering a document that recorded the account information, identifiers, and significant contacts as well as relevant contact information for support and management.
  2. Establishing AWS directory services. A 1 a.m. setup included multi-factor authentication (MFA) and integrated on-premises Active Directory (AD) via a trust relationship between AWS and AD. SHI helped the school district establish the AWS directory services and enable export or sync from the existing on-premises Active Directory. SHI also offered insight on best practices for logging, auditing, and monitoring the Directory service.
  3. Extending the network. Using the school district’s existing standards, SHI guided the creation and extension of the network into AWS and helped the school district team secure public endpoints for any services in AWS.
  4. Configuration and security. SHI also led the school district through AWS root account guidance and protection, configured networking architecture for VPC design and implementation, configured network security with subnets and security groups, configured VPN connectivity to one site, and deployed the appropriate network address translation (NAT) solution where required.
  5. Walk-throughs. SHI then performed a walk-through deployment of three EC2 instances with Cohesity, three EC2 instances for the Cohesity Cloud Edition product deployment, and 53 storage buckets for the Cohesity Cloud Tier Product, before performing a final AWS console walk-through of core AWS services, including EC2, EBS, S3, VPC, Security Groups & Route 53.

Much more prepared for disaster

The school district wasn’t trying to get ahead of any disaster in particular.

All it knew was that in the case of a catastrophic event, it had to be able to bring up its applications in the cloud, and its users still needed to be able to still log in.

While this sounds simple, if you don’t have experience with the cloud, it’s anything but.

With SHI’s help, the school district built a strong AWS foundation and now has a much better idea of what to do moving forward. There’s still more work to be done, but as of right now, the school district has a much stronger understanding of the cloud, making it more prepared for any future disaster.