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University of Connecticut leverages Actifio to Provide Users Data-as-a-Service

 

University of Connecticut Uses Actifio to provide Data as a Service to users, making data an asset, saving costs on devops and disaster recovery while lowering RTO and RPO:

My name is Mick DiGrazia and I have been in IT for about 17 years now, various roles. Today, my role at the University of Connecticut is the infrastructure manager. My teams are responsible for running all of our infrastructure servers and some services for the university.

We’ve got five campuses spread throughout the state of Connecticut. We service about 30,000 students. That’s undergraduate and graduate. And we of course are proud that we are in the top 25 public institutions in the country, and of course our goal is to always improve the education experience.

UConn is like any other institution in that our data is our lifeblood. One of the things that I like to say is that we can always rebuild systems, we can always re-implement infrastructure, but the data is something that we can’t recreate. Just like in any other institution or any other organization today, is that the data really is just exploding in terms of the expectations for generating it and keeping it. And what that means for me is that it’s my job to then protect that data and make it available to people as needed.

Our goal then is to provide the platforms for people to store and retrieve this data, and also to use it in interesting ways. I feel like the challenges that exist in higher education are fairly unique and very interesting and we do things that I think enable our researchers to contribute to the greater good of society. They don’t necessarily have the resources that we do to put into services like Actifio or storage services, et cetera. And so what we then look to do is provide a service to our local community.

So anybody that comes to me and says, “I want a server,” for instance, I say, “Well, we have this wonderful technology that you can tap into., And we’ll make sure that the data is protected offsite, replicated in multiple ways. You can rely on us for those pieces.”

One of our core missions in IT is to enable our IT partners to be successful as well. One of our main strategies is to take institutional data and make it a strategic asset for the university, and I squarely look at Actifio as being part of that strategy. And so it’s my job then to work with people to show them that there’s better ways of doing development, for instance.

We can provide you with a development environment that comes at little to no cost, whereas the traditional way comes at a pretty high cost. And if we can get some of those costs under control, we then have more resources to do better and more things. And so again, that’s disaster recovery. So we need a way to get our data offsite and provide it in a way that that is going to be low RPOs, low RTOs. So DR becomes something that is just first and foremost, and in fact that’s why we started exploring Actifio.

I recently put together a DevOps team that works under me and so one of my objectives is to utilize Actifio in the way that it’s intended to be used, which is to provide data as a service. And it fits so nicely into what a DevOps portfolio looks like. We have a mix of technologies and our goal as an infrastructure team is to really get them to work all together. And just like any production environment, we don’t have the ability to just take things down during the day, which is when my DevOps team is actually working. And so our objective then is to allow them to get into Actifio and do their development work there from a recent copy and then push those changes into production.

Where I’m looking to leverage Actifio would be really some of the resiliency and high-availability aspects. So we are fortunate at UConn to have access to multiple data centers, physical data centers. And because of that, we have, again, the ability to make decisions on where services run from. What I want to do is use Actifio and some of its workflow and resilience and capabilities to to look for opportunities to fail over and increase our availability of our services.


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