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BSF Thread, RM see BSF as "CASH COW" in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; The future does not look bright for SUN it has a plummeting share price and has laid off 6,000 jobs? ...
  1. #16
    somabc's Avatar
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    The future does not look bright for SUN it has a plummeting share price and has laid off 6,000 jobs?

    FT.com / UK - Sun seeks ray of light in open-source turnround

    Sun's stock has plunged from an adjusted high of more than $250 at the start of the decade. A year ago, when the stock was trading at about $5, the company executed a one-to-four reverse split that made shares worth slightly more than $20. But the stock was again below $5 in recent weeks

  2. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    More of the same solutions ... Mmm, no bidder gets away with 'more of the same'. I'm not sure why centralised server farms, virtualisation etc. restricts the user experience. It does make it more reliable and consistent, and in the end the aim is to provide teachers and learners with high reliability, high availability and consistency, something lacking in a lot of schools.

    The emphasis is shifting rapidly to the browser for delivery of applications, content and integration. Think Google ... centralised server farms and online applications. 'The network is the computer' as SUN would say. Once the infrastructure can take high frame rates, we'll all be using thin client with virtualised desktops, just like a TV, it will all be in the content and the screen presentation.

    Its already a fact that the windows client doesn't cope well with multiple users on the same machine (profiles!). Shift this and all the network 'chatter' to the virtualised datacentre, and it all starts to slot into place. Check out Sun global desktop ... we're almost there.
    Don't get me wrong... I am not against centralised servers or virtual PCs/thin clients in principle (I spent 30 years working on mainframe server solutions and understand the real benefits of centralisation to a large organisation probably better than most), it's just that the principal BSF ICT focus in some LAs seems to be more on the core technology 'they' want to deliver rather than what applications/services/facilities schools want or need.

    If this translates to a more reliable service delivering the 'same' applications to the desktop then from a school perspective this is 'more of the same'. In some cases where the level of provision is reduced compared to what schools have today it may be 'less of the same'. Throwing in a VLE or similar as a 'bolt-on' does not change this much.

    I have come across a prevailing attitude amongst those people employed as BSF Consultants that they 'know best' and they don't want to waste their valuable time having to dumb down talking to schools. I suspect it is because they have existing pre-conceived ideas about what they want to deliver, what they can deliver within budget, and what they think schools need by way of ICT. Talking to the schools would only cloud their vision

    As a consequence I fear there is a missed opportunity to change the shape of ICT delivered to the end-user in schools.

  3. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    I'm not sure why centralised server farms, virtualisation etc. restricts the user experience.
    Schools lose control of what students and staff need - they know what is best for their school - not these highly-paid 'know-it-all' consultants. As everything has to be centrally managed, desktop images will be standard and so on. Gone are the days of the flexibility of having locally-installed apps upon request for certain educational applications.

    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    It does make it more reliable and consistent, and in the end the aim is to provide teachers and learners with high reliability, high availability and consistency, something lacking in a lot of schools.
    That's all very well and good until: your ISP fails, cannot maintain the bandwidth required to support 50,000+ concurrent users, the central server farm is ran or managed by muppets and is not fit for purpose, etc etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    The emphasis is shifting rapidly to the browser for delivery of applications, content and integration.
    But not that quickly. We still have ex-teachers churning out hideous applications developed in VB6. But to teachers, they have educational value.

    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    Think Google ... centralised server farms and online applications. 'The network is the computer' as SUN would say.
    Google is an extremely wealthy company with some very clever people working for them across many countries. At the other (bottom) end of the scale, you have your RBCs and private companies wanting their piece of BSF cake with less money and less experience than Google.

    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    Once the infrastructure can take high frame rates, we'll all be using thin client with virtualised desktops, just like a TV, it will all be in the content and the screen presentation.
    But it just can't do that yet! Bandwidth is not infinite, and bandwidth costs money.

    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    Its already a fact that the windows client doesn't cope well with multiple users on the same machine (profiles!).
    It works well for us - enough flexibility to generally do what we want, and enough security to ensure the little darlings don't adversely affect the rest of the network.

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    Fair points all, but how many of us here can except that the solution we are currently in charge of needs radical change?

    Personally I want more fat clients everywhere, but some people here think that many many more 'thin' clients everywhere is better. (educational merits of both opinions not presented here for sake of brevity)

    Compared to some RM is actually more aligned with my world view than I'd usually care to admit (oops). But they seem very wary of one piece of technology that could vastly improve access - I'm thinking running connect workstation in a VM on a mac or other 'specialised' desktop/notebook.

    Both these 'ideas' are 'mine' and therefore 'right'. When a bidder disagrees with me they are 'wrong' when they agree with me they are 'right'. There is very little scope for discussing the centralised/full managed clients/thin/thick with a bidder; they have their solution (i.e. in house expertise) and that is pretty much what you are going to get. Unfortunately there simply isn't enough money in the programme for them to re-invent the wheel and innovate on every bid.

    Since in house staff aren't under pressure to make a profit from our budgets, may I ask: what would you do differently to now if you had the BSF ICT contract?
    Last edited by psydii; 1st December 2008 at 09:27 AM.

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    Having been involved with the discussions around transforming ICT in our local schools. The problem as I see it is political. I listen to companies spell our what they could do and surprisingly agree with a lot of what they want to do. The problem is that the people who decide are worried about two thing "exam results" and "money". This means they chose the safe option anything they don't understand get shelved and rather than transforming ICT you get more of the same (if a little more reliable) only shiny and more expensive.

    To give you an idea about the differences one LA with a similar demographic to ours has gone for RM. Great but I can't help wondering is part of this because they only agreed to spend £120 per pupil per year on ICT where as we are looking at double that.

    As for thin/fat client and virtualisation I would look at a mixed economy after all it is about getting the best tool for the job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    RM knocking is easy, but lots of schools have used them for a long time so they can't be as bad as all that, and if they're winning contracts in a highly competitive market, its probably because they are putting together winning deals.
    Exactly. My school has a 30 year relationship with RM, and frankly we've been let down by countless other companies both big and small, who have tried and failed, but RM have always been there. RM were helping us (and making money out of us) here before our LEA, before the Welsh Assembly, before the many govt organisations such as BECTA, ESIS, etc. They've done alot for education as a whole.

    Yes, we have had a few rocky periods, you can't expect every deal and decision to be rosy over a 30 year period.

    The question is - if not RM then who who would you have take on these BSF contracts? RM have a fair amount of experience with large projects (e.g, Ireland, Scottish GLOW).

    At least RM is and has always been dedicated to education - I'd rather an Educationally biased company make money out of BSF than some random company who just see it as a cash cow. I honestly don't think RM see BSF as a "cash cow" they see it as a way to continue doing business and continue serving the education sector. Lets face it - there is no market for selling PC's and box shifting. Dell can do that much more efficiently. RM are the largest PC builder in the UK and they have not moved their hardware assembly to taiwan or china, or gone bust.

    They are dedicated to education, and they also seem dedicated to keeping jobs in the UK. I respect them for that!

    Butuz
    Last edited by Butuz; 1st December 2008 at 01:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    Exactly. My school has a 30 year relationship with RM, and frankly we've been let down by countless other companies both big and small, who have tried and failed, but RM have always been there. RM were helping us (and making money out of us) here before our LEA, before the Welsh Assembly, before the many govt organisations such as BECTA, ESIS, etc. They've done alot for education as a whole.
    I'm glad you had a good experience with RM, but many schools didn't.
    We used to be an RM school, but we aren't any more because they were sh!t. We used to have RM computers, but they were too overpriced. We used to have RM do our internet filtering, but that so poor we opted for something else. RM used to provide an email solution to us, but it was unreliable we got our own system. In every situation the school saved money and had a better system. I appreciate some say how they have 'got better recently' but TBH any bunch of monkeys could deliver a reasonable service given the amount on offer for BSF.

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    Doesn’t BSF monopolise the ICT provision to just one supplier / manufacturer?

    For example, if RM win a BSF contract does all the school get kitted out with RM workstations only?

    What about Dell, HP / Compaq. IBM, others etc etc??

    Building Clones for Future

  9. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by MYK-IT View Post
    Doesn’t BSF monopolise the ICT provision to just one supplier / manufacturer?

    For example, if RM win a BSF contract does all the school get kitted out with RM workstations only?

    What about Dell, HP / Compaq. IBM, others etc etc??

    Building Clones for Future
    I guess it depends on what is in the winning tender, if RM say "we will kit the schools out with CC4" and they win then it will happen. If the LA makes it clear that is not what they want in the tenders then this wont happen.

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    Face-Man's Avatar
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    For example, if RM win a BSF contract does all the school get kitted out with RM workstations only?
    No, even if RM win a contract they may well provide Dell,HP or any other branded box as RM own Ranger they could even provide a Ranger solution.

    The key is all ICT spending is routered and supported via the managed service so any computer bought will be at the price RM specify in the contract this should include all the costs in deploying the hardware (ie support,disposal, networking etc).

    There should be a provision to allow for the fact hardware get cheaper over the lenght of the contract but basically any extras will cost more than market prices as this is where they will make their money. Basically it pays to get it right first time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Face-Man View Post
    There should be a provision to allow for the fact hardware get cheaper over the lenght of the contract but basically any extras will cost more than market prices as this is where they will make their money. Basically it pays to get it right first time.
    The managed service will also offer to provide equipment refreshes during the life of the contract too. In most cases where I have seen this proposed schools have to commit money per student per year up-front for the privilege. As not many schools have the luxury of knowing what their budgets are going to be for the next 5 years this is being seen as a bit of a risk by some.

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    Why should we care what badge is on the boxes? Its a managed service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asynchro View Post
    They are held to a contracted payment mechanism that means they pay penalties of they don't fix in a stated time.
    I agree with everything you say except this line. Such penalties will be decided in court and who do you think will win that? The big private company with the best business legal team money can buy or your LA with their fresh out of law school lawyer dressed in his Tesco suit?

    And let's not forget the writing of those contracts in the first place.

  14. #29

    broc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darlo_dave View Post
    I agree with everything you say except this line. Such penalties will be decided in court and who do you think will win that? The big private company with the best business legal team money can buy or your LA with their fresh out of law school lawyer dressed in his Tesco suit?

    And let's not forget the writing of those contracts in the first place.
    These penalty clauses are standard in most outsourcing contracts. All that happens is the service provider inflates his bid price to reflect the possibility of having to pay out; in other words you get some of your own money back. I don't think many schools are interested in penalty clauses, what they want is a reliable service that meets their requirements within their budget. I suspect that the LAs will benefit more than the schools from penalty payments.

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