Skyward, Inc., provider of K-12 school administrative software, has passed an inspection by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) of its new Dallas, Texas data center. As a preferred vendor under the TEA’s state-sponsored SIS, Skyward offers data hosting and application service provider (ASP) services for its customers.
Skyward opened the Dallas site to provide service for Texas school districts as well as redundancy to its main data center, operated by IS Corp, in Mequon, Wis. At the new Texas data center, Skyward’s servers are housed in a high-security data facility operated by DataBank. The building features multi-level physical security, 24/7 staff and biometric check points. The facility also offers maximum connectivity and a robust power supply, ensuring continuous operations, even during a blackout.
To ensure compliance with the TEA agreement, Roger Waak, TEA contract manager, and the TEA contract management team, recently completed a walk-through inspection and testing exercises at Skyward’s new Texas data center.
“The goal is to have service available 24/7 so that local education agencies (LEAs) can access their data from any place at any time,” explains Waak. “We analyzed everything from the physical structure of the building and its security measures to the technology and workspace areas. We also looked at building access control and performed multiple network infrastructure tests.” Skyward’s Texas data center has met the stringent requirements set by the TEA.
Waak says a significant factor in choosing Skyward as a preferred state-sponsored SIS provider was that the company had already been providing hosting for its Texas customers at a Wisconsin-based facility. By setting up the local Texas data center, Skyward further solidifies its commitment to the TEA and ensures increased network uptime and stronger connections for its customers.
“It’s important to have a reliable and stable set of data centers that can support each other in the event of a system failure,” says Waak. “The interdependencies you build between two data centers are very important. The fact that the two centers are located approximately 1,500 miles apart, and on separate power grids, is critical. It means they won’t likely suffer the same problems at the same time. And having the data backed up at the other center lowers the risk of data loss.”
Waak adds that many LEAs don’t have a formal disaster recovery plan in place so through the TEA agreement it is taken care of for them. And with two data centers, it ensures that there will be minimal down time and rapid response in the event that there is a system issue.
LEAs that choose to manage their information in-house and on-site often face considerable challenges including staffing, training and hardware and software expenditures. An alternative to this is ASP, which offers computer-based services to customers over a network. Demand for ASPs has increased as a result of the complexities and costs associated with maintaining and managing sophisticated databases.