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FETC 2017 – Keynote – Awesome New Technologies

fetc_desktoplogoOpening keynote session, welcome, etc. Over 400 sponsor booths, lots and lots of sessions, exhibit hall is now open. Going to be an awesome few days.

img_2951Jen Womble

Welcomed everyone with a quick speech. January 30 – new future, day everyone returns home to their districts and schools. Imagine how educational technology that everyone learns about this week, could change the future, and empower people around the district. What will your future look like?

img_2952Margo Day – Vice President U.S. Education – Microsoft

Thanked FETC for an awesome place. Reminded us that over the next 10 years, 2/3rds of the jobs don’t exist today. Technology exists in our lives and our students lives every waking moment. Chance/Opportunity to bring together the 21st century skills that are required to succeed in a world that we don’t even know what it looks like yet. Personalized Learning and Equity & Empowerment.

Introduced teacher Jennifer Morgan – Microsoft Innovation Expert. From Utah, had a big tornado last year, 2nd one in her lifetime. Built an anemometer to measure wind.  Microsoft has a tool on their STEM website to measure wind speed on her setup, as well as demonstrate windspeed simulations from around the world.

Back to Margo – free plugin for Microsoft Excel, to connect to sensors so students can experience what is happening with their experiment, with Data Visualization. Margo suggests that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past 2 years. Microsoft believes the amount of data in the world will grow 10X every two years.

Microsoft wants to bring the STEM and ISTE standards to programming, data visualization, and create lesson plans end to end, for the classrooms, free of charge. Therefore bringing students into the learning environment, making it interesting for students as well as teachers.  All free.

Free resources from Microsoft

  • Office 365 Education
  • OneNote Class Notebook
  • Skype in the Classroom
  • Digital Inking
  • Hacking STEM
  • Educator Community
  • & More

Yesterday (Jan 24) Microsoft Announced:

  • New affordable devices with digital ink
  • Intune for Education
  • School Data Sync
  • Learning Tools

img_2953Microsoft wants to be partners together with us to deliver the best student-centred learning environment that could possibly exist.

img_2954Dan Lejerskar – Chairman – EON Reality –
VR and AR in Education

Dan started with a quick video from eon Reality about Virtual Reality. VR can be used to describe all kinds of different devices and environments.

How can we use technology to address some of the challenges in Education? Can we teach more in less time, with less money? Move from memorization to apply/analyze/evaluate/create. How do we address the attention problem?

VR AR Enables Learning by Doing

EON’s 4P Vision

Purpose – Knowledge is a Human Right – Making knowledge available, affordable, and accessible to anyone on the planet. Access experts and teachers from anywhere, using AR VR.

People – 23 different centres across the world to encapsulate knowledge, collectively working with academic institutions to collect an disseminate.

Programs – Want to convey knowledge to people who cannot afford the bus. Access to world’s largest library for AR VR learning for very small cost. Students after four months in the program are already creating content that is relevant to their community.

Products – Tools and libraries that enable the use of AR VR in an easy way. 1000’s of models in a free library that everyone can download. Teachers can annotate the content and use it for their own use, publish and share with everyone.

Working with lots of education platform customers. AR Primary School Application for Science. Immersive History applications, transportation for special needs, engine operation application.

Summary – we live in very interesting times, exciting to be part of the technology that has exploded. Internet Of Things, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence

img_2955Tyler Sussman – Director of Partnership – Summit Learning

Free learning platform – Summit Learning, allows teachers to personalize learning experiences for their students. Tyler was a history teacher / coach in Summit Public Schools – California. Wants students to become better learners. Real Question for educators – how do we enable and foster these skills in our students.

Summit Learning four pillars:

Goal Setting – Mentorship and Reflection

Content Knowledge – Competency based content progression

Cognitive Skills – Authentic Deeper Learning Projects

Habits of Success – Mentorship and Reflection

However to meet this requirement, teachers need the tools to make it work. Therefore developed the Facebook Summit Learning Platform.  The rest of the presentation was a demonstration of how the tool works.

img_2956Hall Davidson – Senior Director – Global Learning Initiatives Discovery Education

Hall started with a demonstration of some of the Discovery Education tools. Change reading level inside the book, change the language, and incorporate all kinds of other tools. Even having it read out loud in the language you want. Embedding assets in digital books is amazing. Can even embed information with a VR object. Hall used a social studies book to demonstrate. Teacher can highlight text in one language, and have the information in English.

Another example on how to select a free throw player at the end of the game. Data comes in almost real-time from NBA or WNBA, games from previous day. Can access all kinds of data, in a spreadsheet like format, online.

Hall had an advanced search example of “civil war”. Click on reading, objects can be sorted by Lexile Score, and then assign to students individually.

Can also use / share resources with other teachers, see what they are actually doing / using in their classroom.

img_2957Warren Santner – Sr Manager US Education Solutions Architecture – Amazon Web Services –

What is Big Data

Was a high school math teacher. Excited about big data – key lever to unlock the potential in all of our students.

Big Data: Unconstrained Growth – predicted that we will need 180 billion 1 TB drives to store the data we’ll know about by 2025.

Big Data is more than just the volume of data, also velocity, variety, veracity, variability – Visualization & Value

Ivy Tech Community College – using big data that they use to look at their data, patterns with years of data, and helps them to help students who may be struggling.

It’s really about taking the data out of the silos, and leveraging it together.

Start Your Big Data Journey

Batch -> What Happened

Real Time -> What is Happening

Prediction -> What Will Happen

Back to Jen

Wrapped up the session, reminding us to visit the Expo Hall, and thanking the presenters. This was a good session, as we got some great snapshots of the various presenters, their companies and technology. It was a good way to do a keynote presentation, that is, 5 mini-presentations.

FETC 2017 – New @FETC


These are my notes from FETC 2017. I haven’t attended FETC before – super excited! Notwithstanding the incredible weather and temperature difference between Calgary area and Orlando area, the conference has a reputation for being outstanding!

I have a feeling this is going to be big! I am fortunate enough to be staying at the Rosen hotel, and it is literally across the street from the convention centre. And the convention centre is huge! There are three different conferences happening at the same time! And not only are we in the conference centre, but also in the Hyatt Regency, which is a good hike, but across overhead shaded walkways with moving sidewalks. It is truly spectacular! Let alone it’s amazing to see everything so green, well-manicured grass and parks areas, while we have a couple of feet of snow at home!

Registration was super easy – brought my printed registration, scanned the barcode, and my badge was printed, they gave me a show guide, and a bag. And then – brilliant idea – stuff your own bag! Yes, you get to put the stuff in your bag – buffet style! Pick up what you want, and place it in! Brilliant brilliant brilliant! And of course some of the obligatory ribbons to add to your name badge – picked up an International one, and a few others. I’m sure there will be some folks who go overboard in putting all the ribbons on, and dragging them along behind them!

Did a quick walk around the facility, so I’d know where I was going, and dropped into the Hyatt – bumped into my good friend Steve Meyer from Clearview Public Schools – always bump into someone you know when you travel!

Now, got a seat for the first session – New @FETC. Four rooms put together, going to be quite the crowd!

Session Notes: New @ FETC w/Jennifer Womble – Program Chair @JenWomble

So many sessions, over 700 speakers. Really want the learning experience to be the best that it can be. Jen asked for everyone to fill out session evaluations and give her feedback! Conference was originally founded by IT Directors, who wanted to share with others. Still same goals today – desire to connect to the very best, highest quality professional development, and build relationships.

Jen shared some tips for a good conference.


Attendees from 41 countries, and ALL 50 States. Jen forgot to put Canada on her slide – maybe she thinks we’re part of the 50 States!;)

International Lounge – Exhibit Floor Booth 2453

FETC has grown!! North and South OCCC & Hyatt

Your badge is scanned at each session, so you can get a report post-conference for the amount of hours spent getting educated. You can amend the report later, and print a certificate if necessary, for your PD needs. Priority at FETC is professional development. Using VerAttend.

Your badge can be scanned on the Exhibit Floor, for contact information.

Jen reviewed the 80 Page Show Guide! Although it’s online, a printed show guide is still handed out. Haven’t seen one of these in awhile!;)

Noticed little cards next to each projector thanking the sponsor… Will take a picture and insert.

Lots of poster sessions this year. Jen said the feedback on poster sessions is always very high, so they have a number of them, and they are awesome. Show Guide has them grouped so it’s easy to find the ones you want.

No mobile app this year, trying to limit everyone’s data usage. Online agenda, you don’t sign in, but it stores information on the local device.


Embrace the EXPO Hall – lots to see, learn, do / visit. Worth your time, you could spend the whole time in here!

Wireless Network – have purchased largest package possible from SmartCity, try to limit the number of devices you are using!;)

Networking Opportunities

  • Reception Wednesday evening at Expo Hall
  • Lunches & Coffee Breaks
  • Tweet Ups, Twitter Posts
  • Shuttle Rides
  • Bloggers Cafe Top North & South
  • EdTech Karaoke

What’s New?

  • Tracks based on your education role
  • Apple Support Desk
  • Microsoft FREE certification testing
  • Computer Science Firehose
  • Mobile MEGAShare
  • Posters by TOPICS

Friday Giveaways & Swag

  • Annual FETC coffee mugs distributed on FRIDAY at LRP Booth 110
  • FETC T-shirts Given away in EXPO between 11-noon at 6 exhibitor booths FRIDAY
  • LENOVO $30,000 prize drawing Booth 220 at 1:50 PM on Friday

Next Year: January 23-28, 2018. Facility is booked through 2030!;)

Call for presenters happens in March!

IT4K12 – Protecting Education Environments from an Evolving Threat Landscape

erac_it4k12_gryProtecting Education Environments from an Evolving Threat Landscape
Softchoice & Microsoft

These are my notes from various sessions at IT4K12 in Vancouver Nov 17-18, 2016. They may be messy, and there may be mistakes, and it may not be exactly what the presenter wanted to be remembered, but it’s what resonated with me. – Todd


Customer’s Challenges

Disrupted Perimeter, Business Agility, Consumer IT, Advanced Threats

Ransomware is causing huge disruption. Typical ransom paid from $200 – $10K. >50% of US Hospitals hit by Ransomware in 2015. 90,000 systems per day infected by Locky Ransomware. Organizations of all sizes are being impacted.

Typically uses multiple attack vectors – e-mail, websites, usb keys, and the user itself. 90% of attacks come through e-mail and the web browser. Reminded us that we need to constantly remind our users what to look for and what to avoid.

After the data is encrypted, ransom note with decryption costs. Choose to pay for the ransomware, and now using bitcoin, so harder to track than using a credit card. If you don’t pay, then your choice is to restore from backup. Some ransomware is getting smarter, and now going after your backup, so customers try to put their backup off the network.

Cybersecurity’s Labour Shortage Epidemic
Challenge #1 – Not enough gray matter.
62% of organizations are currently understaffed.
Majority of positions take 3-6 months to fill

Financial and Operational Impact
Challenge #2 – Results of an unsustainable security approach
Cost on Black-market
Average Record – $154
Medical Record – $363
Mean Time to Detection > 200 days
24% increase in security budgets
38% more security incidents
56% theft of “hard” intellectual property increased

The Vicious Cycle of Security Failure
Challenge #3 – Complexity
Emerging Challenge -> Inefficient security team -> Unscalable complexity leaves organizations combat-ineffective

Security Eco System
Endpoint / Mobile
Network / Applications
Data / Identity / Access

What is Secure Endpoint?

Not just AV, must be a layered approach

  • Malware protection
  • Device management
  • Patching
  • Content Security
  • Transaction protection

Secure Network

Make sure it’s Next Generation

  • NG Firewall
  • NG Email / Web gateway
  • Network visibility
  • Sandboxing
  • Virtual patching
  • Incident and threat management
  • SSL decryption

Secure Cloud

  • Access management
  • Identity management
  • Entitlements and role
  • Data access control
  • Data monitoring

It’s a shared responsibility. Customer still has some responsibility in secure cloud. Once the data leaves the cloud, it is the customer responsibility.

Internet of Things (IoT)

  • Thermostats
  • Garage door openers
  • Wearables
  • Routers
  • Washers and dryers
  • Cars

Cisco suggests that in 2016 there are 22.9 billion connected objects, and by 2020, there will be over 50 billion connected objects.

There are tons of IoT in Education

  • Printers
  • Video capture devices
  • ebooks, tablets, notebooks
  • smartphones
  • smartboards
  • smart displays
  • sensors in the hallways
  • sensors on trash bins
  • robot cleaning
  • fitness bands and wearables
  • smart lights
  • smart locks
  • campus lighting
  • HVAC

Strong security is NOT built into these (yet)

Have you fully considered the data that will be produced by your IoT environment? Where will it reside, who can access it, how can it be used, how will it be retained for future use.

SHODAN – Search Engine

Search Engine (IoT) –
Finds anything connected to the Internet! Went live in 2009, currently indexes over 1 Billion connected devices monthly.

So what can we do?

Security TechCheck (CTAP)
Cyber Threat Assessment Portal

  • No cost fully funded security assessment for ERAC members
  • Non-Intrusive deployment, typically a 7-30 day engagement
  • Appliance
  • Provides a granular report on current security posture and vulnerabilities
  • Gives you the ability to inspect for botnets; both dormant and active.
  • And much more that I couldn’t type fast enough to capture!;

Softchoice has a number of tools and partners to help out. May be able to help save costs through some consolidation.

Consultation with a Softchoice Agnostic Security Architect
Security Consolidation Assessment
Security TechCheck – Cyber Threat Assessment Portal (CTAP)

Terence Snijtsheuvel, Solutions Architect, Softhoice

Empowering Users – Secure Productive Enterprise

What is included in E-Desktop

  • Windows 10 Education edition (cortana is disabled)
  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus and Office for Mac
  • Microsoft Enterprise CAL suite

Microsoft has four pillars they consider in security:

Trust – Protect your organization, data, and people

  • Integrated intelligent security
  • Transparency and control
  • Privacy by design
  • Compliance leadership

Who has access to my data?

Your data is only used to provide services. Data center staff can’t see your data. You configure who has access to data.

Where is my data stored?

Know where your data is located. You can request where your data is located and understand which data center region your data is stored in with our public maps.

Physical and environment security – many physical elements all combined to secure physical access.

Security in our people

24×7 security incident response, aligned with ISO/IEC Tr 18044. Background checks on all staff

Secured Data

Foundational Data Protection – All data is encrypted whether in transit or at rest.

Sensitive Data Identification

Policy Management to secure your data

Information Security across apps and devices





Terence did a great job of outlining the Microsoft Security “plan” using their software to provide us a secure place to work, and store data. Microsoft has a number of add-ons to O365 to make it even more secure. It is a very robust and perhaps “whole” approach to maintaining security for everyone.

Mike helped us to understand the role of Softchoice and their various partners and their ability to help with security.

IT4K12 – Keynote: Nora Young

Kerac_it4k12_gryeynote: Nora Young

Data, Info, Knowledge, Wisdom
Edtech in the Data Boom

These are my notes from various sessions at IT4K12 in Vancouver Nov 17-18, 2016. They may be messy, and there may be mistakes, and it may not be exactly what the presenter wanted to be remembered, but it’s what resonated with me. – Todd

Nora opened with a depiction of the University of Bologna 14th C., where the instructor would read out loud from the book, as the books were so scarce pre: Gutenberg.

Wal-Mart and Big Data – When a hurricane’s coming, people buy Pop Tarts! Why? Who Knows? So Wal-Mart moves Pop Tarts to the front of the store.

So much data is collected every day – videos into YouTube, photos / videos into Facebook, etc.

In terms of mapping, it is suggested that the value of proprietary map data is approaching zero, due in part to the large amount of data from projects like open source maps.

There is so much data capture happening. Nora reminded us of the wearable camera that just takes pictures all day long. Proteus Digital Health, swallow a chip on a pill that communicates with a receiver on your lapel that can then give your data to the doctor. Have you noticed that Google is tracking where you have been, if you use it on your phone?

Another big data trend is A.I. and big data. These machine learning devices need large data in order to learn. Seeing chatbots as motivational coaches and teaching assistants. She told us a story about a university prof who had a chatbot as a teaching assistant, and never told the students.

Personal data map

  • Self-tracking as social phenomenon
  • Mobile technologies to capture that data, share it, and give us constant access to it
  • Ubiquity of maps that tie data to physical locations
  • Smart objects and internet connected sensors that communicate awareness of their environment
  • Ability to search data through text, image, and audio

Not just valuable to businesses who track us, or personally for us, but interesting value to society as a whole.

Revolutionary Nature of Cell Phones

Even “feature” (as opposed to smart) phones have location data. Smart phone rates taking off, especially in Brazil, India and China, but also in surprising markets. Smart phone adoption growing in the last 3-5 years in markets like Kenya, Myanmar (Burma). Expected that by 2020, 80% of the phones will be smart phones.

Great potential in all the tracking and sharing that we do, but there are some challenges too.

Tyranny of Algorithms!

Facebook algorithm determines what we see on Facebook, not just everything that our “friends” post.

Nora asks if there can be bias in the data? Since the algorithms are designed by people, bias can be inadvertently built in. This is an opportunity to teach about critical thinking.

Gigapixel photos of large large crowds, that can be zoomed in to actually identify an individual. You expect to be relatively anonymous in a large crowd, but reality is you are not.

Opportunities for Education in the Data Boom

Australian politician says use of “Canadian” as derogatory term will no longer be tolerated.

Statistical and Data Literacy and Pedagogical opportunities for big data.

Nora brought up a lot of thought-provoking concepts around big data that I hadn’t really considered before. She manages to take a large topic and make it not nearly as scary as we might think. Thanks Nora for a great presentation.


IT4K12 – Student Plenary

erac_it4k12_gryStudent Plenary
Performance Learning Program
Group of students from a couple of Vancouver area school jurisdictions.


These are my notes from various sessions at IT4K12 in Vancouver Nov 17-18, 2016. They may be messy, and there may be mistakes, and it may not be exactly what the presenter wanted to be remembered, but it’s what resonated with me. – Todd

Project is BYOD 1:1 iPad
Public School in North Vancouver
Intent was a project / program that could be easily emulated / replicated in other places

Focus on tasks, not tools. They try to never tell a student to “make a PowerPoint about…” By focusing on the task, it lets them look at their work in a broader scope – knowledge, skills, and character.

Everyone can Code – Swift Playgrounds

What does it mean ‘to code’ and how can we do it? iTunes U, and Swift Playgrounds. Learned how to do “the hustle” as part of coding.

Message in a Bottle – Media, Advertising, and Advocacy

How are media and advertising used to persuade? Learned about angles of cameras for making advertisements. Took lots of photos to demonstrate it. Used a Collage App, and a Font app, and Snapz to put all of the extra ones together. Learned by using Instagram for their own photos.

In another example, student started with a blank canvas, and added advertising – forest in the back yard, added text. Got lots of constructive?? criticism from classmates, and made changes based on what he heard. Students received lots of feedback from everyone and lots of revisions.

Metaphor Machine – Revolution in Action

How does an idea drive change? iMovie and Explain Everything.

Students had to build a Rube Goldberg machine that was a metaphor for revolution. Created an iMovie to show how they built it, and how each part is a part of revolution.

Students use the FAIL metaphor – First Attempt In Learning

But how do we use technology to build character? Brought in a couple of grade 11 students to explain

Manhattan Project2 – How did the development of the atomic bomb affect the lives of those living in the Hanford area and what role did they play in ushering in the atomic era?

Students had to take a role in the project by filming a documentary.

Used the App Showbie to mark up your project. Can circle, highlight, add voice memo, etc. in order to mark it up. Made up a letter, and then had to redact text / censor to hide the “secret information”.

This presentation was really about six students, who were grade 8, 9, and 11. The students participated in a panel presentation and did an awesome job of showing their learning through inquiry.

Now Code Crazy – a Group of Grade 7 students from Cambridge Elementary – Surrey

These students work on their various projects every Monday afternoon.

Used TinkerCAD to design something to solve a problem. Student was making a soap dish, and was trying to figure out how to put the word ‘SOAP’ on the dish. Had to figure out how to change the plane.

Ozobot – tiny robots that work with light sensors. Draw lines of code with it, and they lines are colour coded so that the robot will do different things differently. The sensors read up to 150 times per second and react based on what they see.

Osmo – Connects directly to the iPad. Some of the games are really simple. But can use coding to solve a complex problem.

LEGO WEDO Students use different motors and objects combined with LEGO to make / design projects that “do” something differently.

Sphero – Students learn how to drive, draw, and code them. They like learning how to use them, AND that they are translucent, so you can see how they work. They race around the classroom, ramps, grind rails, and program their movements.

Another awesome presentation by a group of students. @shelagh09

This was a very cool idea, having a session in the program for EVERYONE that was teachers and students presenting projects and explaining their learning. And it makes a long day for them, just to help us!

It is also a good reminder of WHY we all do what we do. Sometimes we get so busy and so focused that we completely forget, or lose sight of the folks that we are here for in the first place! Thank you!


IT4K12 – Google Apps for Education

erac_it4k12_gryGoogle Apps for Education – Chris Sabiston – New Westminster –


These are my notes from various sessions at IT4K12 in Vancouver Nov 17-18, 2016. They may be messy, and there may be mistakes, and it may not be exactly what the presenter wanted to be remembered, but it’s what resonated with me. – Todd

Chris led a bit of a discussion first around why school districts either went to G Suite, or are looking at G Suite. Answers varied from groundswell of teachers wanting to use it, to cost, to available storage, etc.

But one of the chief challenges has been around professional development to help folks get started. Not only that, in many schools the network infrastructure wasn’t up to snuff. Some solved this by attaching an AP to the Chromebook cart, so where the cart is, the AP is.

Fascinating, lots of people had lots of questions, comments and statements, and Chris did a good job of facilitating the conversations. May not be exactly where he was planning to go, but it was where the room wanted to go…;)

Reliability and Security is very good. No advertising, or collecting of usage details. Google does not own your data, share, reveal or sell it to third parties. Google employees cannot look at your data without your permission. Google Apps has satisfactorily completed a SAS 70 Type II audit. Google promises 99.9% uptime, and your data is backed up multiple times.

In BC there is legislation that specifically does not permit private student information to be stored outside of the Province.

Some school districts have teachers and students using G Suite, even though it is not officially supported. Some teachers have experienced that using G Suite for student writing has really made a difference, because of the comment / response in a shared document. Revision history is amazing. Peer editing, collaborative writing.

G Suite Challenges

  • You need a reliable Internet connection. Although Google is adding more and more offline capabilities
  • You need to use a modern web browser
  • Privacy and Security process
  • Management of classrooms / GAFE student accounts

Conversation was wide and varied around the room on how things were implemented, or not implemented. Fear of using it, fear of not using it.

Some conversation around some of the other tools to be used with G Suite, like cloudlock, hapara, etc.

Some quick questions regarding when students leave, how long do we keep their data for? How do they move their data to their own account? Keeping them in an OU by year of graduation, makes it easier to manage their accounts when they leave. Also talked about owners of documents, like library@ is an owner of district-owned docs, or curriculum@, etc.

Curious about auditing accounts, and how we review information. Cloudlock came up a few times as a great product for auditing the systems. Some recommend that when someone leaves the jurisdiction, ie. a teacher, that ownership is changed on all of their documents. Even if you change their password, if they have shared a file or group of files with another account, then that other account still has access to the documents, AND MAY be able to make changes.

Many commented on the effectiveness and helpfulness of Amplified IT in getting things setup, and reviewed, and can provide all kinds of expertise and advice.

Thanks Chris for leading this conversation!



IT4K12 – Disaster Recovery

Terac_it4k12_gryhese are my notes from various sessions at IT4K12 in Vancouver Nov 17-18, 2016. They may be messy, and there may be mistakes, and it may not be exactly what the presenter wanted to be remembered, but it’s what resonated with me. – Todd

Gregg Ferrie, Director of Information Technology

Gregg reminded us of Murphy’s Law, where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Gregg does worry about what happens if we don’t have good DR. Gregg had piles of great examples and ideas about things to consider for a good DR and BC plan.

What kinds of disasters do we worry about? Well, on the island certainly we worry about Natural Disasters like Fire, Flood, Earthquake. But also Human Disasters: Loss of Internet, Sabotage, Theft, Extended Power Failure, Hack Attack, Terrorist Attack.

There have been a number of cases recently where we’ve had problems. U of C ransomware, Kings College – London lost a single RAID on October 17th, October 31st were still not up and running. 29,000+ students, 9,000 staff and 1 backup server.

Disaster Recovery is a lot like insurance. You buy it every year, you pay premiums, you complain about the cost, but when you need it, you’re glad it’s there.

Delta Airlines, small fire in their data centre, let to hundreds of millions of $’s lost. Thousands of cancelled flights and lost future revenue.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • If your critical information systems became unavailable due to some catastrophic event? eg fire or flood in the data centre with complete loss.
  • If the School Board Office and the data centre burned to the ground one Friday evening just before Christmas break?
  • It has been said that “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

Saanichton – old elementary school building, with small data centre, etc.

Reasons Why You Should Prepare

  • Because your district auditors strongly recommend it as a good business practice
  • Because the Government of BCs CIO office requires it
  • Because the architecture of the NGN could put you out of commission for up to 45 days and beyond at all sites
  • Jobs might depend on it – including yours
  • Because if you “fail to prepare you are preparing to fail”

What is Disaster Recovery?

  • DR is a set of policies and procedures to enable recovery or continuation of vital technology infrastructure and systems following a natureal or human-induced disaster
  • DRP typically is the domain of the technology department

What is Business Continuity?

  • Maintain a minimum level of service in the event of a disaster or catastrophe
  • It is about the ability to restore the district to business as usual
  • It is planning to mitigate unanticipated risk…

What are the differences?

  • BC is proactive, its focus is to avoid or mitigate the impact of risk
  • DR is reactive, its focus is to pick up the pieces and to restore the organization to business as usual after a disaster happens
  • DR is considered a subset of BC


  • Do site servers, schools, or departments have built-in redundancy? Including RAID, etc.
  • Are critical spares kept locally or at the district office?
  • Are offsite spares, equipment available quickly?

Backup Strategy

  • Are site and district servers backed up regularly?
  • Are they getting backed up to the Central Data Centre?
  • Are backups regularly verified and tested?
  • Do you also backup offsite as well (secondary site, tape or cloud)?
  • To be clear, good backups are NOT Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity!

Saanich is also looking for a tertiary backup system in addition to their primary and secondary. Could be cloud-based for data alone. Most services are warm or hot, so that the server is running, but the data may be a day out of date. Hot services, like e-mail are hot, and synchronized all the time.

Data Centre Safeguards

  • Is the Data Centre secure?
  • Does the Data Centre have environmental controls?
  • Does the Data Centre have fire suppression designed for a computing environment?
  • Does it have a backup generator?

Disasters or Catastrophes

  • If you only maintain data backups how rapidly can you rebuild critical and non-essential systems?
  • Do you maintain spares of servers, drives, power supplies, etc?
  • How does the district establish essential servers and how quickly?
  • Hence the need for a Disaster Recovery Plan

Saanich’s site has the data copied over, would need to change some IP’s and fire some equipment up and then they would be running. Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the central office services redundant to another site?

Disaster Recovery Planning

  • Start with the basics
  • Risk Analysis and Assessment is the first step
  • Review and change Backup and Restore procedures if necessary
  • Determine if a viable Failover site exists
  • Determine if you are going to have a cold, warm, or hot Failover – if at all
  • All of this is predicated on what the minimum amount of time each department/service is required to be operational
  • Education, for instance, might only require access to server-based files
  • HR/Finance/Payroll however might require minimal services in 72 hours but to be fully operational within a week

Gregg reviewed the basic steps for building a DR plan and also for BCP planning. The big difference being DR is really just IT, but BCP involves people and needs to include all of the Sr. Leadership team. BCP team meets monthly, and sometimes it’s hard to keep everyone on task, but it’s important.

Gregg has some concerns over the NGN network, as now all schools go directly to their Board Office Primary. If the Board Office goes down, it can take a long time, 30-45 days to re-route the NGN network. Therefore working on an architecture to get a failover site also connected to NGN network. Requires a Bias Failover line. Planning for everything to go well if the Board Office burns down, and then service can be running within about a week through the failover site.

Gregg is able to get better sleep at night as a result of the work and planning that their team has done.