Quinnipiac partners with IT company to protect polling data and personal records

Katie Langley, Copy Editor

Information technology (IT) company Veeam partnered with Quinnipiac University to secure its polling institute data, as well as the university’s information and personal records of students, faculty and staff, according to its press release.  

“Veeam is one of the most critical pieces of software in our IT environment because it keeps our core systems operational. It’s clearly the gold standard for modern data protection and a one-stop shop for business continuity,”  Fabiano Iacusso, Quinnipiac associate director of systems, technology and planning, said in a statement to the company. 

Connor Lawless

The core systems backed up in the new partnership will be familiar to students. Veeam will protect the educational content managers Blackboard Learn and Ellucian Self Service, where students schedule classes, view their grades and pay their tuition. 

With all of this information, the workloads for the university total nearly 80 terabytes across 15 physical servers, 253 virtual machines (VMs) and network-attached storage (NAS). 

Quinnipiac Poll data, used globally by outlets such as The Financial Times and The Associated Press, is also a top priority for the university’s cybersecurity efforts. 

Iacusso said that before Veeam, data protection was inefficient at Quinnipiac. 

“We lacked centralized monitoring and management, making it difficult to ensure system availability,” Iacusso said. “We often had to restart backup jobs or re-protect data from scratch because of vague error logs. Recovery wasn’t efficient either and could be time-consuming. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that data loss would cripple our environment and set the university back many years, so we searched for a better backup solution.” 

Veeam said that recovery, which would have taken one day to complete, can now be completed in 15 minutes. Veeam also assists the university in complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

In order to protect the community’s data from disasters and reduce recovery time, Veeam utilizes NAS backup and VM recovery. 

“NAS backup is a solution designed to backup and to recover unstructured data files stored in Network-Attached Storage or NAS,” the company explained on its website. “In other words, while NAS devices are ideal for storing data in external/physical drives, such drives may not have built-in backup and recovery capabilities.”

These storage systems are imperative as they facilitate file sharing across university departments and contain the work and research of faculty members. 

Also protected by Veeam are the university’s 253 VMs. 

Microsoft defines VMs as “no different than any other physical computer like a laptop, smartphone, or server…while the parts that make up your computer (called hardware) are physical and tangible, VMs are often thought of as virtual computers or software-defined computers within physical servers, existing only as code.” 

The company’s Instant VM Recovery feature is used to retrieve the university’s VMs from a backup in a matter of minutes. 

“One of the things we appreciate the most about Veeam is fast, reliable backup and recovery for virtual, physical and NAS,” Iacusso said. 

For further protection from data disasters, Quinnipiac has invested in “Backup as a Service” and “Disaster Recovery as a Service,” two solutions from Veeam. First, VMs are backed up on campus. Copies are then sent to Veeam’s cloud in case of emergency. 

“At any given time, Veeam is in the DR (disaster relief) driver’s seat, helping us maintain compliance (to FERFA and HIPPA) and get the lights back on quickly if needed,” Iacusso said.