Case Study: Education Success Story

Donelson Christian Academy Eliminates Post-Tornado Downtime With Unitrends Unified BCDR

I have always had some type of off-site backup of critical data. Unitrends just makes it easier because it is all done from one interface. Kevin Ray
Director of Technology, Donelson Christian Academy

Unitrends Solution for Donelson Christian Academy

Protected Environment
  • Windows physical servers
  • Linux physical servers
  • VMware virtualized servers
  • 7TB of protected data
  • Full support of heterogenous environment
  • Agentless protection for virtual environment
  • Self-service recoveries of local and cloud-based backups
  • Cloud-based data redundancy and long-term retention
  • Daily email status reports

The Challenge

Kevin Ray, Director of Technology, has worked with Donelson Christian Academy for 21 years and loves being in an educational environment. After many years of outsourcing backup and recovery to a managed service provider (MSP), the Academy opted to bring that functionality back in-house. Limited self-service capabilities with their previous provider had Kevin looking for an in-house solution that would support his mixed environment as well as integrate with a cloud service dedicated to off-site, long-term data retention. An easy-to-use solution managed from a single user interface (UI) was important for him since a lean IT team of two were responsible for multiple functions and nearly 1,000 users.

DCA evaluated Unitrends alongside another appliance-based solution. After a rigorous 45-day evaluation, they decided to go with Unitrends since the competitor’s solution required a great deal of patching, finding workarounds, and constant back-and-forth with their MSP to function properly.

“Unitrends was the perfect fit. The backup appliance just does its thing and backup jobs work just as scheduled or requested. It works without any interruption and gives me a detailed report each morning via email.”

Ease of use was paramount for Kevin and his team, as was the ability to support a mixed environment featuring both Windows and Linux operating systems.

“I have VM servers and I needed a backup solution that could work with various operating systems, and without an agent on each device or server.”

Unitrends’ ability to perform agentless backups of virtualized Linux servers gave Kevin confidence in his protection since he felt installing an agent on each protected device “could be another level of failure.”

In addition to local protection provided by their backup appliance, the Academy replicates mission-critical data to the Unitrends Forever Cloud to meet goals for long-term data retention, with a redundant copy stored off-site.

Donelson Christian Academy
Founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1971, Donelson Christian Academy (DCA) is an independent, private school serving students from preschool through 12th grade (K-12). DCA’s mission is to provide their students with a challenging, college-preparatory education while developing them to be leaders at home, in the classroom and in their community. An IT staff of two, including Director of Technology Kevin Ray, supports 120+ faculty and nearly 800 students.

Follow Up

Mother Nature vs. Unitrends

Kevin and the Academy deployed Unitrends and their first couple of years on the platform passed without major incident. However, all that changed overnight. A tornado struck Nashville around midnight on March 2, 2020 and raged into the early hours of March 3 as well. With 165+ mph winds raging, the storm rated a 4 out of 5 on the EF Winds Scale and left a path of destruction in its wake. More than 70,000 residents were left without power, with total damages estimated in excess of $1.6B, making this the sixth costliest tornado in U.S. history. The Academy was in the storm’s path and was forced to close immediately.

“Parts of campus were destroyed, including all data and communications lines and the server room. We had no access to any servers due to the internet going out at the school,” recalls Kevin.

In the immediate aftermath, Kevin prioritized recovery of their accounting system to get his CFO back up and running as they started to assess damages and put together a plan to rebuild.

“Critical to us is our Account System. We run Quickbooks and all the data was on a virtualized Windows server. We had been replicating this data to the Unitrends Cloud.”

Knowing a backup was stored securely in the cloud, Kevin got in touch with Unitrends Support team to begin the data retrieval process.

“I called support and they were great during my disaster recovery (DR) event. I cannot say enough good things about the quickness, and them educating me about the steps and processes. I was able to get a backup out of the cloud, reimport and load the data onto our CFO’s laptop. He was back to work within 48 hours.”

With his CFO back online, the Academy could begin their recovery efforts without breaking a sweat.

“Unitrends made it easy to get back up and going once we had connectivity back. Unitrends’ cloud service saved me by delivering successful recovery during that tornado event. I’m incredibly thankful for the ease of getting to my data through the Unitrends Support Team.”

Donelson Christian Academy formally reopened in August following the storm in March, welcoming students back to campus for the fall semester under COVID-19 protocols.