Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) is a K-12 school district in central Oklahoma. OKCPS is comprised of 79 total schools, over 36,000 students and more than 4,400 employees.
Like many large public school systems, OKCPS had various IT challenges. Dozens of sites to network, thousands of endpoints to support and limited IT staff to manage and maintain the sprawling environment. Worries about power consumption, server sprawl and the high travel/maintenance costs of supporting a distributed server environment had increased as well.
OKCPS has an experienced and talented Network Services team but they felt needed a technology partner with deep expertise in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery solutions. OKCPS engaged ISG Technology, a technology solution provider with extensive experience helping clients solve BC/DR challenges.
As a starting point, ISG worked with the Network Services team to perform a detailed Assessment of the OKCPS server, storage and network infrastructure. The Assessment yielded a solution design which would not only solve the DR challenge but consolidate the sprawling OKCPS infrastructure down to working data centers. The two data centers could then be configured to work together in production while providing failover capabilities in the event of a site failure.
The design included virtualization of numerous OKCPS server workloads using VMware ESX on HP C-class Blades. Once virtualized, workloads become “portable,” since virtual machines are not tied to physical hardware.
The design also included a pair of EMC CLARiiON storage arrays teamed with EMC RecoverPoint for bi-directional data replication between the two data centers. Replication assures that if one data center has an outage, data loss, or disaster the other data center can assume full function.
To simplify the recovery process, ISG recommended VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM), a DR tool for virtualized environments which leverages EMC replication capabilities to automate the flow of the recovery process. SRM eliminates complex manual recovery steps and minimized the need for human intervention during a disaster — effectively a “push button” DR solution. SRM also provides a non-disruptive testing environment, so the plan can be validated and/or amended as necessary.
The final solution component was for Backup at each site using Data Domain appliances to provide an additional layer of data protection. Data Domain is a tapeless backup solution which provides industry leading data “deduplication” which can dramatically decrease storage capacity requirements and costs.
Implementation of the solution went smoothly, according to Steve Washam, Director of Network Services for OKCPS. “The project went very well. Our team did a great job. Dean Coit (ISG Solution Architect) went above and beyond the call of duty to help us.”
“ISG’s expertise was critical to our success.”
Steve Washam, Director of Network Services for OKCPS
The key result achieved was a robust DR plan which can be tested, amended and validated during business hours without having to take down production systems. The new DR plan also provides detailed test reports which can be provided to auditors upon request.
Another notable benefit of the solution was a significant reduction in power consumption and energy costs. Prior to implementation, OKCPS had reached the capacity limits of the existing power plant. But the virtualized environment reduced power requirements and eliminated the need to invest in a new, larger UPS.
A final benefit resulted from the consolidation and centralization. The bloated travel and maintenance costs of supporting the former distributed environment were all but eliminated in the new solution.