Educational Organizations Choose LINBIT for Seamless High Availability and Disaster Recovery Solutions

Digital Transformation in Higher Ed Leads to Growing Requirement for Affordable Always-On IT 

BEAVERTON, Ore., Jan 24, 2018 — LINBIT, the de facto standard in open source High Availability (HA), Disaster Recovery (DR), Software-Defined Storage (SDS), and the force behind the renowned DRBD® software, today announced that it is bringing affordable highly available IT to educational organizations. LINBIT’s suite of software enables the implementation of always-on systems for enrollment, online testing, registration, and other critical services.

Across the education market, digitization of key processes, from managing student records to assignments and tests, have led to a growing requirement for always-on, highly available IT services that often demand 99.999% availability and 24/7 data protection against hardware failures. Customers in education have been looking to LINBIT to meet these increasing demands.

Performance Matters, Inc., a leading provider of software for professional development, teacher evaluation, and student assessments, chose the LINBIT HA software to minimize database downtime. Before LINBIT, database recovery took hours and backups would only restore to the previous day’s data.

Performance Matters required a solution that would keep data up to date for each transaction and ensure near real-time data integrity. This level of HA is increasingly important, for example, to allow teachers to administer online tests that are graded and written directly to a database, making test results available to students within minutes. If the database crashes or transactions are lost, then hundreds of student results would also be lost.

The LINBIT DRBD software “is perfectly integrated with the components of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Distribution and it gives us enough flexibility for software and hardware maintenance without service interruption,” said Armin Burkhardt, Head of Computer Service Group at Max Planck Institute.

The world-renowned Max Planck Institute carries out research in life, social, and human sciences in multiple countries. To ensure the availability and the long-term protection of scientific data, it deployed two clusters in separate locations operating under the LINBIT solution.

For Athabasca University (AU) in Canada, affordable HA drove their decision to choose LINBIT. AU was tasked with providing students access to the campus database and applications, while controlling costs. As an online university, it is essential for services to be available 24/7. AU’s servers run exclusively on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Citrix Xen virtualization software, and the MySQL database.

Dmitry Makovey, Systems Administrator at AU stated that the LINBIT software “allows us to resolve availability problems without resorting to high-cost solutions. Simplicity of its setup and maintenance allows us to spend less time figuring things out with DRBD and more time working with application stacks.” After several years in production, the LINBIT solution is still successfully in production mode at AU.

Boasting almost 1.7 million downloads, LINBIT has been working with organizations around the globe for more than 17 years to build an integrated enterprise-ready solution for HA, DR, and SDS. Bringing affordability, openness, control, and other benefits of the open source model to the mission-critical enterprise, the LINBIT solution is comprised of DRBD and other proven open source software, such as Pacemaker, Corosync, Clustered Logical Volume Manager, Ansible, and more. DRBD has been in the Linux kernel since 2009, proving itself to be both fast and reliable.

“LINBIT has recently made it even easier for organizations to deploy high availability and disaster recovery,” said Brian Hellman, COO of LINBIT. “We’ve automated the process by creating an Ansible playbook which allows users to test drive an HA cluster in their own environment.

Additional case studies on the use of HA and DR software by educational organizations are available  at: http://www.linbit.com/en/products-and-services/industry/#education

 

About LINBIT (http://www.linbit.com)

LINBIT is the force behind DRBD and the de facto open standard for High Availability (HA) software for enterprise and cloud computing. The LINBIT DRBD software is deployed in millions of mission-critical environments worldwide to provide High Availability (HA), Geo Clustering for Disaster Recovery (DR), and Software Defined Storage (SDS) for OpenStack and OpenNebula based clouds. Visit us at http://www.LINBIT.comhttps://twitter.com/linbit, or https://www.linkedin.com/company/linbit. LINBIT is Keeping the Digital World Running.

Kelsey Swan
Kelsey turns her personal passion for connecting with people into a supporting LINBIT clients. As the Accounts Manager for LINBIT USA, Kelsey engages with customers to provide them with the best experience possible. From Enterprise companies, to Mom and Pop shops, Kelsey ensures the implementation of LINBIT products goes smoothly. Doing what is best for the client is her #1 priority.

Why Does Higher Education Require Always-On Capabilities?

People understand the importance of hospital systems needing to be Highly Available. This is easy to explain since people’s LIVES depend on medical equipment and information being accessible at all times. Likewise, people understand the importance of banks needing High Availability (HA) — they expect access to their MONEY on-demand and want it protected. You don’t have to be a techie to quickly understand why hospitals and banks need to be constantly available. However, the need for HA at educational institutions is a bit more difficult to initially identify, because they are not often thought of as places where ‘mission-critical’ systems are a real requirement. I believe the story is told less, as it has an underwhelming shock factor– people’s lives are not at stake, nor is their money hanging in the balance. At LINBIT, we have many educational customers, including prestigious universities, and we wanted to get their perspective on why HA and why LINBIT. Read more

Dreaded Day of Downtime

Some say that no one dreads a day of downtime like a storage admin.

I disagree. Sure, the storage admins might be responsible for recovering a whole organization if an outage occurs; and sure, they might be the ones who lose their jobs from an unexpected debacle, but I would speculate that others have more to lose.

First, the company’s reputation takes a big, possibly irreparable hit with both clients and  employees. Damage control usually lasts far longer than the original outage.  Take the United Airlines case from earlier in 2017 when a computer malfunction led to the grounding of all domestic flights. Airports across the country were forced to tweet out messages about the technical issues after receiving an overwhelming number of complaints. Outages such as this one can take months or years to repair the trust with your customers. Depending upon the criticality of the services, a company could go bankrupt. Despite all this, even the company isn’t the biggest loser; it is the end-user: and that is what the rest of this post will focus on.

Let’s say you’re a senior in college. It’s spring term, and graduation is just one week away.  Your school has an online system to submit assignments which are due at midnight, the day before finals week. Like most students at the school, you log into the online assignment submission module, just like you have always done.  Except this time, you get a spinning wheel. Nothing will load. It must be your internet connection. You call a friend to have them submit your papers, but she can’t login either. The culprit: the system is down.

Now, it’s 10:00 PM and you need to submit your math assignment before midnight. At 11:00 PM you start to panic. You can’t log-in and neither can your classmates.  Everyone is scrambling. You send a hastily written email to your professor explaining the issue. She is unforgiving because you shouldn’t have procrastinated in the first place. At 1:00 AM, you refresh the system and everything is working (slowly), but the deadlines have passed. The system won’t let you submit anything. Your heart sinks as you realize that without that project, you will fail your math class and not be able to graduate.

This system outage caused heartache, stress and uncertainty for the students and teachers along with a whole lot of pain for the administrators.  The kicker is that the downtime happened when traffic was anticipated to be the highest! Of course, the servers are going to be overloaded during the last week of Spring term. Yet, notoriously, the University will send an email stating that it experienced higher than expected loads; and that ultimately, they weren’t prepared for it.

During this time, traffic was 15 times its normal usage, and the Hypervisor hosting the NFS server and the file sharing system was flooded with requests.  It blew a fan and eventually overheated. Sure, the data was still safe inside the SAN on the backend.  However, none of that mattered when the students couldn’t access the data until the admin rebuilt the Hypervisor. By the time the server was back up and running, the damage was done.

High Availability isn’t a simple concept but it is critical for your organization, your credibility, and even more importantly, for your end-users or customers. In today’s world, the bar for “uptime” is monstrously high therefore downtime is simply unacceptable.

If you’re a student, an admin or a simple system user- I have a question for you (and don’t just think about yourself, think about your boss, colleagues, and clients):

What would your day look like if your services went unresponsive right… NOW?!
Learn more about the costs and drivers of data loss, and how to avoid it, by reading the paper from OrionX Research.

 

Greg Eckert on Linkedin
Greg Eckert
In his role as the Director of Business Development for LINBIT America and Australia, Greg is responsible for building international relations, both in terms of technology and business collaboration. Since 2013, Greg has connected potential technology partners, collaborated with businesses in new territories, and explored opportunities for new joint ventures.