Furness College needs to protect student and staff work against ransomware attacks, hardware failure and accidental deletion to safeguard student grades and the college’s reputation. Arcserve appliances enabled the college to make a 50% cost saving on backup. With inbuilt ransomware protection, the solution enables rapid recovery of individual files and emails. With the ability to recover files four times faster, the college can protect student and staff work and minimise risks to business continuity.
More than 4,000 students are progressing their education at Furness College to improve their future job prospects, via a range of full-time, part-time and distance learning courses.
As well as providing apprenticeships and degree-level accreditations in partnership with local universities, the college has had a sixth form campus offering A-levels since its merger with Barrow Sixth Form College in 2016.
The college works closely with BAE Systems, which is one of the main employers in the local area, providing many courses that directly relate to the business, such as metal work, project management, business control systems, engineering and CAD courses.
A team of around 350 faculty and staff support the college’s students. Safeguarding staff and student files against ransomware attacks, hardware issues and accidental deletion or corruption is essential to protecting student grades. “We can’t expect all our students and staff to be IT-savvy, so it’s our responsibility to make sure that their work is safeguarded against the risk of data loss,” explains Darren Stevens, IT Manager at Furness College. “If work is lost, it could impact the college’s reputation, as well as students’ grades and potentially their choice of career going forwards.”
When the hardware for the college’s incumbent backup system was reaching end of life, the IT team decided to investigate alternative solutions. “We weren’t completely happy with
the functionality and performance of our existing solution,” comments Stevens. “The backup window was stretching into the morning, it was time-consuming to find and restore individual files and emails, and with all backups held in the cloud, it took too long to recover data.”
Furness College rolled out two Arcserve appliances in May 2021. The team selected Arcserve appliances due to their inbuilt protection against ransomware with Sophos Intercept X, and a cost reduction of 50% compared to the college’s previous backup solution.
“There was a spike in ransomware attacks on colleges and universities during lockdown,” explains Daniel Walker, Network Infrastructure Lead at Furness College. “We had briefings about the increased risk from JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) – which provides our academic network – so we were keen to add an extra layer of protection with the Arcserve solution.
Furness College has an Arcserve appliance at its two campuses, each backing up a different subset of servers, with a total of 32 servers and nearly 600TB of recoverable data protected. This data includes staff and student work ranging from programming projects and CAD data to photoshop and video files, plus the college’s virtual learning platform.
Using the Arcserve appliance’s snapshots, the college can recover files or even a complete server in minutes. “We use the solution on a regular basis for recovering individual student and staff files and emails that have been accidentally deleted or overwritten, without having to roll back the entire server,” explains Walker.
The appliance’s automated testing feature, Arcserve Assured Recovery, provides complete confidence than in the event of an incident, data can be restored completely and without impacting its integrity.
With the Arcserve appliances, Furness College’s IT team can restore services, lost or deleted files and emails four times faster, which safeguards staff work and student grades. “Arcserve dashboards show at a glance that we’re consistently meeting our recovery time objectives (RTO),” explains Stevens. “The solution is very easy to manage and run on a day-to-day basis, which means the IT team is free to focus on supporting users.”
As well as easier recovery and the 50% cost saving, the college has also been able to:
- Reduce the Exchange backup window from up to eight hours to 7.5 minutes, including automated backup verification
- Store nearly 600TB of recoverable data in less than 30TB, thanks to deduplication and compression capabilities
- Comply with Cyber Essentials certification with Assured Recovery
“With the Arcserve appliances, we’ve reduced costs and mitigated the risk of a ransomware attack,” concludes Stevens. “We can protect business continuity and the college’s reputation.”