​How one community college used VMware NSX to cut downtime from 72 hrs to 15 min

Mark Van Pelt, the CIO of Mohave Community College, explains how virtualized networking improved the school's disaster recovery.

TechRepublic's Conner Forrest interviewed Mark Van Pelt, the CIO of Mohave Community College, about how virtualized networking improved the school's disaster recovery. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Mark Van Pelt: So, I came on board with the college about two and a half years ago. And we had some challenges in terms of our configuration and things like that. We were seeing two to three outages a week. And at what, about six months after I came to the college, we actually lost our entire domain.

So we had to rebuild that over a weekend. One of the things that actually made that simpler was we were mostly virtualized at that point, so standing up the new domain, standing up the servers with VMware was very simplified. And once we got the new enterprise up and running, our next thing was well, we need to test our disaster recovery.

SEE: Network security policy (Tech Pro Research)

And what we found was that our disaster recovery time was about 72 hours. And the reason for that is we have a lot of data going over a very small pipe. In our county, one of my challenges is bandwidth, internet, we're a very rural county. So infrastructure simply isn't there for high speed stuff, typically.

So, we began looking at different ways—how are we gonna do this so that we're functional? A college is a 24/7/365 concern. So for us, being able to be up and running very quickly is critical.

So, we took a look at an SX. And within SX, what we were able to do is take some of our legacy IP bound applications and stand them up on a properly IP-ed network.

Essentially we have two networks. One is our live data network, the other is a hidden network that doesn't see the live network that is IP-ed the same, has the same data setting on it. It's literally a mirror of what we're running every day.

And when we did our disaster recovery for this year over spring break, and we were amazed. Because we went from 72 hours to having our critical systems up in about 15 minutes. And we had the entire enterprise up in about 45 minutes. In fact, it surprised us so much that we did it again just to make sure we didn't mess anything up.

Also see:


By Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.