San Juan College enters second contract for information technology disaster recovery system

San Juan College's critical data will be available via Cloud in emergency situations, server crashes

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
From left, San Juan College Network Manager Randall Keeswood, and San Juan College Information Technology Center Chief Information Officer Vinny Zicolello, talk about the data center on Wednesday at San Juan College in Farmington.
  • The three-year contract will be effective Jan. 2, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2020.
  • A recovery plan is critical to the college's business and operations, VP of administration says.
  • Critical information will be shared in real time between campus and backup server in Albuquerque.

FARMINGTON — Critical information technology systems at San Juan College will have a backup system based out of Albuquerque starting in the new year.

The college’s Board of Trustees approved a three-year contract with Advanced Network Management in Albuquerque worth $328,548 plus applicable gross receipt taxes at a regular meeting on Tuesday.

The new system will offer the ability to run critical servers on the cloud, to increase capacity without additional hardware and to restore services and recover from a catastrophic failure within 24 hours, according to Ed DesPlas, executive vice president for administrative services. It will also include more cloud data storage and a secondary internet connection dedicated to backing up information.

DesPlas said a disaster recovery plan is critical for the college’s operations.

“These systems that we’re looking at having a recovery system for, this is how we run our business,” DesPlas said on Wednesday. “We can’t be down for more than 24 hours without jeopardizing business operations and our students’ ability to persist in the semester’s efforts.” 

San Juan College Network Manager Randall Keeswood provides a tour of the data center Wednesday at San Juan College in Farmington.

The new disaster recovery system will send critical information — such as payroll, accounting, learning management systems and student registration and records — to a secondary server at Advanced Network Management’s office in Albuquerque, according to Randall Keeswood, the college's network manager. The Albuquerque server would be able to transmit critical information via the cloud in real time so that those systems can still be accessed in Farmington.

“We’ll have a select few servers that we’ll be backing up in real time, so whenever a change is made, it’s made in Albuquerque too, just in case a system failed,” Keeswood said. “Let’s say our payroll fails. If that server fails, we’ll be able to bring it up in Albuquerque and be able to proceed with payroll, or if our online application fails, we will bring it up in Albuquerque within 24 hours so students can get registered. That’s the main goal, and that’s why we’re doing this infrastructure for the college."

The college currently has a data backup plan that sends information to a remote site in Farmington for safe storage, but the system doesn’t allow immediate access, DesPlas said.

San Juan College Network Manager Randall Keeswood talks about the data center at San Juan College in Farmington.

“(With the system that will be replaced) we had pretty decent protection against data loss,” DesPlas said. “What we didn’t have was the ability to experience a systems failure, a crash if you will, and then be able to bring software packages (and) our application packages up in a real-time fashion. Without a disaster recovery system similar to what we’re purchasing now, it could have taken a week, two weeks, maybe more depending upon the severity of the system failure to get our systems back up.”

The college made moves to establish an information technology disaster recovery system earlier this year with Smith Bagley's CellularOne of Northeast Arizona. The college had a three-year contract with the technology company with a fixed yearly cost of $109,985.40 plus gross receipt taxes, according to Rhonda Schaefer, senior director of marketing and public relations.

However, after a 90-day trial, DesPlas said it became clear that the contract couldn’t meet the college’s needs.

“This is a second attempt to get an improved disaster recovery system installed at the college,” DesPlas said, adding “it really just became a myriad of technical reasons where the system would not – as they designed it – would not function in the way that we required it to.”

The college cancelled the contract with CellularOne and sent out another request for proposals in early October, San Juan College President Toni Hopper Pendergrass said during the meeting. The new contract with Advanced Network Management will begin on Jan. 2, 2018 and go through Dec. 31, 2020.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or