Information Technology

SABIS® Data Centers: Ensuring Security and 24-hour Accessibility

Jun 2014 #InformationTechnology

Data, its scope, availability, and use, is a key component of the SABIS® Educational System, which is implemented in SABIS® member schools around the world.  As a leader in the field of education, SABIS® has built a reputation for the way it uses data as an integral part of the learning process.  Data on each student in the SABIS® School Network is generated from the admissions process and continues to develop into detailed digital learner profiles through the ongoing assessment process after a student enrolls.  Data is used to pinpoint students’ learning gaps and identify concepts that teachers need to reinforce in class to help ensure mastery.

Securing millions of data points and ensuring that data is accessible for the purpose of informing the learning process of every student is the responsibility of the SABIS® IT Department under the guidance of Mr. Serge Bakhos, SABIS® Vice President – IT, Book Publishing, and Creative Design.

The following is an excerpt from an interview conducted by the SABIS® Corporate Communications Department with Mr. Bakhos:

Q: Can you start us off by explaining what a data center is?

A: A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and their associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression), and various security devices.

Small companies usually have the capacity to store their data and services. However, larger organizations that have significant amounts of data to store and services to provide sometimes use external data centers for additional storage facilities and other services.

Q: How many data centers does SABIS® currently use?

A: SABIS® currently has two data centers to store its data and services. The first data center is located in Lebanon. The second is in Minnesota, U.S. and is hosted in a state-of-art co-location facility incorporating multiple power sources, Internet connectivity, and maximum security.

Q: What is the capacity of each data center?

A: In the U.S., SABIS® incorporates 27 physical servers, 92 virtual servers, and an additional 12 pieces of equipment to deliver a robust, redundant environment that ensures optimal response times and minimal downtime to its users. In Lebanon, SABIS® incorporates 15 physical servers, 60 virtual servers, and an additional 12 pieces of equipment.

Q: What is the need for such large data collection centers?

A: SABIS® invests heavily in Information Technology and data systems to ensure operational efficiency, improve students’ academic results, maximize learning, enhance teacher productivity, and reinforce communication across the network. This data must be stored, first and foremost, securely, and in a place that offers the appropriate capacity. 

Data from the SABIS® School Management System in every member school is replicated on a regular basis and stored in our data warehouses, ensuring that it is always readily available with little or no “down time.”  This is necessary so that we can provide our users around the world with access to the information they need.  For example, we have parents around the world using WebSchool to track their child’s performance in school.  That data needs to be available every minute of the day and every day of the week around the globe. 

On a wider scale, to support the efforts of every member school, individuals in SABIS® corporate have access to regional performance data.  Products like the Regional Monitoring System (RMS) help SABIS® corporate employees review performance, compare results, and pinpoint possible issues.  Having uninterrupted access to the RMS adds an important level of oversight to our school management operations.

SABIS®s data center in Minnesota, U.S.

Q: What type of information does SABIS® store in its data centers?

A: SABIS® stores all its data and services in these data centers. The services stored include the SABIS® School Management System (SSMS), the SABIS® Academic Monitoring System (SABIS® AMS), the SABIS® Tracker, and the SABIS Integrated Testing and Learning® as well as applications such as Teacher App.

Q: Are there plans for any additional data centers?

A: Yes, we are planning to set up a new, state-of-the-art disaster recovery site in the U.K. This data collection site will be a replica of both centers located in the U.S. and Lebanon. The objective of creating a disaster recovery site is to secure continuity of operations and be completely insured against any form of disaster that could compromise our data.

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