Mason Consolidated Schools

"With the Active Backup Suite we were able to protect cloud data and satisfy educational data retention guidelines at the same time."

Jason Burt, Technology Director at Mason Consolidated Schools

The Company

Mason Consolidated Schools (MCS) is a K-12 public school in Erie, Michigan serving approximately 1100 students and 220 staff.

The Challenge

MCS had over 1000 email and drive accounts in their Google Workspace for Education and Microsoft 365 environments, which students and faculty used to store important data like student files, school records, and other educational content. The data retention policies of Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 did not satisfy the school's requirements, so it was necessary to find a data protection plan for these cloud services that would meet FERPA guidelines.

The school was also searching for an expandable surveillance solution that would allow them to monitor an additional location, as well as easily add low-cost cameras to their network. Their existing, proprietary system was expensive to maintain and difficult to expand, and adding just a single camera to the network was too costly to justify.

Additionally, MCS needed a system that would automatically update their website content whenever a faculty member made changes to their curriculum in Google Drive. Faculty frequently needed to update class objectives and outlines, and MCS wanted that information to be automatically synced to their website on a nightly basis.

Lastly, MCS wanted to give the IT staff remote access to make system updates and upgrades to the network. They needed a solution that could satisfy all these needs without breaking the bank.

The Solution

The IT team at MCS chose an 8-bay Synology desktop NAS device to help address their networking, backup, and surveillance challenges. Using entirely subscription-free, zero-cost software from Synology's Package Center, MCS set up the NAS device to help tackle their challenges.

With almost 400 PCs and 700 Chromebooks constantly pushing new data to their public cloud solutions, MCS needed a robust backup plan. They opted for Synology's Active Backup Suite to back up important cloud data onsite from both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. They also used advanced retention rules to ensure accordance with local educational regulations.

At a separate location, MCS leveraged Synology's Surveillance Station software to quickly add a network of inexpensive cameras to build a low-cost security solution from the ground up that could be easily updated and expanded in the future.

MCS also set up their website with auto-updated content pulled from collaborative Google Workspace documents. Teachers, for example, would update their curriculum initiatives frequently and MCS wanted those updates to be reflected online immediately. They used Synology File Station to create synced, view-only copies of those Google Workspace documents and set up their website to update from that content nightly. Their board of education also utilized this system to update their board policies publicly, streamlining a previously inefficient process.

Lastly, because the Synology NAS was accessible via QuickConnect, they could manage all these upgrades and features remotely.

The Benefits

Through Synology's Active Backup Suite, MCS quickly set up advanced retention rules that satisfied Michigan's educational data retention standard of at least 10 years. This gave them a secondary backup of all critical data, as well as peace of mind that student records would be recoverable in the case of data loss.

Through Surveillance Station, MCS added a layer of security to their existing system for significantly less money than expanding the proprietary system would have cost. Surveillance Station also served as the hub for a brand new security system at a second location, saving them time and money over their older system. Also, because of Surveillance Station's broad compatibility, the team was able to mount compact IP cameras in locations where larger, more traditional security cameras would not have been feasible.

Through the auto-synced website content via File Station and Google Workspace, MCS teachers can rapidly update learning objectives and course materials online without technical assistance; this way, they are able to keep their classes flexible while keeping the community updated on every change.

Best of all, Synology was able to help MCS accomplish their backup, surveillance, and networking goals while lowering overall costs. "The solution has been an important part of K-12," said Jason Burt, Tech Director at MCS. "I can't wait to see what DSM 7 can do to make the journey even better."

Recommended Models

  • DS1821+

Recommended Features

  • Active Backup for Business supports advanced retention policies for public cloud data backup that satisfy FERPA regulations
  • Surveillance Station provides more flexibility than analog surveillance solutions at a lower cost
  • File station “view-only” folders synced to Google Workspace lay the groundwork for auto-updated web content
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