Jul 25 2023
Data Center

How Backup as a Service Protects Higher Education Data

BaaS providers offer a variety of powerful capabilities that can give IT teams enhanced flexibility and visibility into complex backup systems.

Higher education leaders know how important data is to a modern university.

Digital transformation initiatives are well underway at most colleges and universities, and as these institutions incorporate more digital platforms, they are taking the data gathered by those platforms and using it to gain valuable insights into their students, faculty and staff.

Analysis of that data can inform a wide array of decisions, from the methods faculty members use to instruct students to the help students need to stay on track with their own learning. It can also help train a new generation of data scientists looking to enter a growing Big Data workforce.

But what happens if the data driving all this suddenly becomes unavailable?

“Everybody is moving toward a digital platform if they're not already there. Some don't even have any infrastructure onsite anymore,” says Chris DiRado, a managing consultant for CDW. “They can’t afford to have their data down for days or weeks at a time.”

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Effective data backup solutions can help prevent this scenario, but maintaining backups places some demands on institutions. Hardware solutions require routine maintenance, and even cloud backup and recovery tools demand the regular attention of IT teams to make sure they’re operating effectively.

One solution that colleges and universities are exploring is Backup as a Service, in which a service provider is responsible for all of the management and maintenance of an organization’s backup environment. BaaS takes backup responsibilities out of the hands of in-house staff and turns them over to a partner, leaving IT teams free to focus on other tasks.

“The partner is not just providing software and hardware to customers to run backups,” DiRado says. “This is a fully managed service.”

LEARN MORE: How does Google Workspace for education archive user data?

Important BaaS Capabilities for Higher Education to Consider

Colleges and universities considering BaaS have a variety of options to choose from, so it’s important to keep different factors in mind when selecting a provider. 

Management capabilities are an essential factor for selecting a BaaS provider. Backup environments frequently become more complex over time as organizations grow and add new IT capabilities. IT teams need to be able to keep track of numerous moving parts and interdependencies, which can help them spot potential vulnerabilities and other issues before they become problems. Some BaaS providers offer centralized management consoles that provide clear visibility into complex systems and simplify operations such as scheduling backups, preventing data corruption and setting backup priorities.

“Everything is visible in a single pane of glass,” DiRado says. “It can take all those moving parts and consolidate them in one place where you can log in and look at all your data.”

BaaS also moves maintenance tasks off the plate of in-house IT professionals. Activities such as patching, updating and testing backup systems are handled by the provider. Further, BaaS providers can scale up their services rapidly to accommodate the growth spurts that many digital transformation initiatives lead to.

“I think an important differentiating factor is how flexible a BaaS solution can be,” says Dustin Sears, an engineering manager for managed services backup and recovery with CDW. “It can be customized to meet really any sort of transformation that an organization is on.”

DIG DEEPER: How to realize the benefits of hybrid cloud environments.

Other Important Features for BaaS Success in Higher Education

BaaS providers also offer other features that ensure the reliability and security of an organization’s backup data.

For example, many organizations don’t think about backups until they experience a crisis where their backups are needed, but regular checks are important to confirm that systems are operating as expected. A 2021 report from Veeam stated that 43 percent of backup efforts fail. Regular verification can ensure that backup has been successful and data can be restored to production environments.

A BaaS provider can also help integrate complex systems into an organization’s backup environment and provide strategic guidance on how IT teams can enhance their backups to meet future needs. This includes addressing challenges such as compliance with data privacy regulations, including FERPA and state or local laws.

Further, security features such as encryption and data indelibility and immutability ensure that data cannot be deleted or changed, protecting against data corruption from attacks such as ransomware as well as malicious insiders.

Ultimately, the growth of digital transformation initiatives has made data more valuable than ever. BaaS can help institutions make sure this precious resource remains available to keep colleges and universities running.

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