The Right Data Migration Tool Helps Schools Move to Cloud During COVID Crisis

Effective data migration tools enable schools to move to a secure cloud environment, making applications and content easier to access, as well as mitigating the risk of data loss.

Carbonite Guest Blogger

January 20, 2021

4 Min Read
data migration
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Enabling remote learning involves more than just holding classes on Zoom. Schools and administrators are scrambling to provide access for data normally stored on physical devices that previously lived on-premises. And, while the cloud can stand in for physical infrastructure to get the job done, schools–being subject to data privacy regulations like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)–are responsible for how data is handled in the cloud. The right data migration tool can help.

Schools are looking to the cloud to help mitigate huge challenges brought on by the pandemic. On top of all this is the fact that schools are notoriously short on IT resources. Stories abound of teachers paying for pencils and notebooks because school budgets are stretched to the max. Their IT “team” might literally be a faculty member with some basic networking skills. The idea of a “lift-and-shift” operation that entails moving all their data to the cloud may seem quite daunting.

A highly simplified, very high-level definition of job requirements might look something like this:

  • Choose a cloud provider to host the school’s data.

  • Determine the workflow to move data to the cloud.

  • Find a window of time to take systems offline and perform the migration.

  • Apply encryption at each step to ensure data secrecy.

  • Ensure low to no data loss throughout the process.

  • Perform user testing and validate functionality.

  • Go live in the cloud.

These are the minimum steps required to take a school’s IT infrastructure and make it available in the cloud for the purpose of enabling remote learning while minimizing risks along the way.

The difficulty is compounded when you:

  1. Lack sufficient in-house resources to perform successful data migration, and

  2. Don’t have tools that are designed to move workloads while maintaining cross-dependencies and minimizing the risk for downtime and data loss.

Data Migration Tools

When you’re this strapped for resources, you can’t waste time on a data migration tool that’s going to complicate the process. A lot of data migration tools, especially free ones, lack essential features that can make or break a migration project.

The first thing to look for at is the data replication part.

Most data migration tools use a snapshot of the server to create a replica in the cloud. The problem is that the snapshot is just a point in time—specifically, the point at which the snapshot was taken. Between the time the snapshot was taken and when the cloud replica based on the snapshot is stood up–and that can take a long time, depending on the amount of data on the server–a lot of data can be generated or changed on the source. None of these changes will be reflected in the new cloud replica. And there’s no guarantee that all of those changes will eventually be reflected in the cloud instance. So, the potential for data loss is there. In some cases, system dependencies are not preserved during the sync process and need to be recreated. This can take a lot of time and resources, which are already in short supply.

Another option is to use real-time replication instead of the snapshot. This is how Carbonite Migrate works, and it eliminates a lot of the complexity described above. Real-time replication captures changes on the source server at the byte level.

This accomplishes a couple of important things. First, it minimizes the amount of data traveling over the network. Instead of sending a huge snapshot of the server over at once, the source is replicated in smaller chunks so you’re not using excess network bandwidth. Second, because the software captures changes in real time, it helps ensure that the cloud replica accurately mirrors the source. There’s no interval between when the snapshot is taken and when the cloud instance is stood up.

Another benefit is that you can perform user testing and validation using a current copy of data and not a snapshot of what the server looked like a week or a month ago. Carbonite Migrate preserves dependencies, so systems talk to each other just like they did before. When it’s time to cut over to the cloud server, it’s literally just the click of a button. Carbonite Migrate also uses 256-bit AES encryptions during each phase of the migration, ensuring the confidentiality of data throughout the process.

Real-World Scenario

When cloud IT solutions provider CloudHappi, needed to help primary and secondary schools migrate their servers away from on-premise to remote cloud facilities, it chose Carbonite Migrate. Previously, migrations typically took around 15 days. For the company’s first school using Carbonite Migrate, it successfully migrated the entire system in one day.

The transition allowed the school’s administration personnel to safely work from home, facilitating a more productive remote learning experience for the students. The school’s data was moved from a vulnerable to a secure cloud environment, making applications and content easier to access, as well as mitigating the risk of data loss.

Find Out More

Want to watch Carbonite Migrate in action? Check out this short demo video and see how Carbonite Migrate uses real-time replication to move workloads to and from any physical, virtual or cloud server with minimal risk and near-zero downtime. You can also learn more on our Carbonite Migrate product page.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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