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BSF Thread, Some Facts (Not Rumours) Required Regarding RM, Northgate and Redstone in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; thanks John_Brum for your comments on redstone in Birmingham. It does sound like we were at some of the same ...
  1. #31
    david_1152's Avatar
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    redstone in Birmingham..

    thanks John_Brum for your comments on redstone in Birmingham. It does sound like we were at some of the same meeting!

    I can confirm Johns points are not rumours and have come for the horses mouths - so to speak.

    However,



    "Funny really link2ict (bgfl) were at the meeting regarding this and they looked like they were going to bust a blood vessel over the integration with cmis. Seemed to be the first thing they knew about it."


    where as I agree with you on the point, this can hardly be described as a fact. I did have a word with service birmingham about this, and they wanted to take up the matter with redstone before commenting to anyone else.


    D

  2. #32
    Slewis's Avatar
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    Arrow Northgate Answers

    I can answer some of these for Northgate, we go over to their IMS in February 2010.
    Had a Q&A 1:1 with them recently.

    Some FACTUAL pros and cons:
    1. What happens to the Network managers?
    Carries on working as Network Manager, in school, over the IT techs, under one of their team leaders.

    2. What happens to creativity and development (as opposed to just having one system, hardware, software foisted upon us)?
    Creativity? That's all good, but bear in mind, everything you create at Northgate, Northgate own. Development, they reportedly develop a lot of their tools in-house.

    3. What happens regarding other - not IT - jobs we do around school?
    Carry on doing them if they add value to the contract. i.e. teaching how to use projector saves us much time in callouts.

    4. What about help desk (is it local to school or based in India)?
    Not local to school, but not in India either :P

    5. How much access and freedom do the remaining IT staff have?
    **Hearsay warning** Internet may be monitored at LEA level, from what I hear. Don't yet know more than that. **Hearsay warning**

    6. How many redundancies have been made (either by economic reasons or change of conditions)?
    Very few, fresh employment opportunities being created - managerial for the most part.

    7. What new opportunities are opended up (I don't mean moving on up the managed service provider)?
    Training is offered where there is a perceived shortage, or where it benefits your current role.

    8. If there are any Network Managers left in BSF schools are they supported and allowed to stay - or are they "encouraged" to move on or up?
    Network Manager is a required position, but I can't imagine there's all that much to do, even purchasing is done entirely via Northgate's catalogue (except in case of unplanned & immediate need).

    10. During the Interim service do things remain the same or do new systems, software and hardware get forced on us?
    Looks like things remain the same, for the Interim, with the additional of their call logging software

    11. How are hours, holidays and salaries affected?
    Hours unknown yet (we do flexi time atm, but it's not written in our T&Cs), holidays and salary will be the same, (possibility for more flexibility on holidays? - we're not allowed more than 1 consecutive day off during term time atm)

    12. How are the remaining IT staff supported (local, remote only)?
    Remote centre, callouts available, also help from technicians in nearby schools on offer.

    13. What sort of improvement (or worsening) of service is provided by having EVERY IT call routing through a possibly foreign helpdesk?
    They say we should still respond to adhoc queries and that calls can be logged retrospectively by teachers/ourselves.

  3. 2 Thanks to Slewis:

    CyberNerd (28th November 2009), Face-Man (30th November 2009)

  4. #33


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    11. How are hours, holidays and salaries affected?
    Hours unknown yet (we do flexi time atm, but it's not written in our T&Cs), holidays and salary will be the same, (possibility for more flexibility on holidays? - we're not allowed more than 1 consecutive day off during term time atm)
    If you are TUPE'd they cannot change your terms and conditions unless you agree to it - that's the law.



    2. What happens to creativity and development (as opposed to just having one system, hardware, software foisted upon us)?
    Creativity? That's all good, but bear in mind, everything you create at Northgate, Northgate own. Development, they reportedly develop a lot of their tools in-house.
    Everything I do now is GPL or Creative Commons, for the benefit if all schools. guess this sucks the spirit out of that.

    1. What happens to the Network managers?
    Carries on working as Network Manager, in school, over the IT techs, under one of their team leaders.
    McDonalds is starting to sound good, I might get to the elusive 'team leader' position.

  5. #34
    Richie1972's Avatar
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    Yeah, I had the same 1 to 1 meeting (actually would have been 3 to 1 if I'd not had the Deputy Head in with me).
    It did all sound very nice and went some way to allaying some of my fears, but the cynical side of me still wonders if I was just being told what I wanted to hear.
    From what I've gathered so far jobs are safe (although I'll be the only IT Techie in my school - 700 to 800 computers, over 1000 students and god knows how many staff).
    The fun is going to come when Northgate try to educate the staff on using the help desk and not flagging me down in the corridor (I've tried for 4 years to get them to use the one I designed).

    I have found that communication could be better - some things I found out from the meeting that the school hadn't been told about and some things the school told that I was not informed of.

    There are a few jobs on offer relating to BSF - if you want them.
    There is supposedly somewhere where new hardware and software can be tested.
    There are also likely to be opportunities for those who want to move to other areas.

    I think one of my few concerns now is the long term position for network managers (once helpdesk and remote access is in place along with the Northgate supplied IT infrastructure). Short term, though, I could be safe - especially as I'm the only one involved in designing and maintaining the school's network

  6. #35
    Slewis's Avatar
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    Cybernerd:

    If you are TUPE'd they cannot change your terms and conditions unless you agree to it - that's the law.
    Yeah, that's what I'm saying, they're not part of my terms and conditions, it's just an informal set up here.

    Not that TUPE is anything like the protection you might think it is; a) they can change any condition they like, so long as they give you 12weeks warning, and b) As has been mentioned on other threads, TUPE has no legal duration specified, it could be in effect for as little or as long as NG see fit.

    Everything I do now is GPL or Creative Commons, for the benefit if all schools. guess this sucks the spirit out of that.
    Yeap, NG got no love for open source, for sure.

    McDonalds is starting to sound good, I might get to the elusive 'team leader' position.
    Sounds like it'd be more work :P

    Richie:
    Yeah, I had the same 1 to 1 meeting (actually would have been 3 to 1 if I'd not had the Deputy Head in with me).
    Aye, ours wasn't well organised either, had to go in with my Network Manager to save time. :-/

    From what I've gathered so far jobs are safe (although I'll be the only IT Techie in my school - 700 to 800 computers, over 1000 students and god knows how many staff).
    Aye, although we've been told the whole I.T. team stays in school?

    The fun is going to come when Northgate try to educate the staff on using the help desk and not flagging me down in the corridor (I've tried for 4 years to get them to use the one I designed).
    lol, one would hope they've had enough experience to get it right by now, but yeah, I can't really imagine it :P :P

    I have found that communication could be better - some things I found out from the meeting that the school hadn't been told about and some things the school told that I was not informed of.
    Definitely. I.e. School headteacher got told about the job vacancies few days before the 1:1 ("as a courtesy"), not that he thought he could share any of this information with us. Not heard a peep from NG about them, despite the closing date being less than a few working days away, had to chase it at the 1:1 to get the specifics sent to us. In what world does that make sense?

    There is supposedly somewhere where new hardware and software can be tested.
    Not heard about that, got anything more on it?

    I think one of my few concerns now is the long term position for network managers (once helpdesk and remote access is in place along with the Northgate supplied IT infrastructure).
    *nods* -Not a whole lot left to manage at all...

    Short term, though, I could be safe - especially as I'm the only one involved in designing and maintaining the school's network
    I've not heard anything about them doing away with the position, when someone leaves the post it seems to be re-advertised as Network Manager. So, there'll be something there for you, it's just a question of what :P

  7. #36
    Grommit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slewis View Post
    I can answer some of these for Northgate, we go over to their IMS in February 2010.
    Had a Q&A 1:1 with them recently.

    Some FACTUAL pros and cons:
    1. What happens to the Network managers?
    Carries on working as Network Manager, in school, over the IT techs, under one of their team leaders.

    2. What happens to creativity and development (as opposed to just having one system, hardware, software foisted upon us)?
    Creativity? That's all good, but bear in mind, everything you create at Northgate, Northgate own. Development, they reportedly develop a lot of their tools in-house.

    3. What happens regarding other - not IT - jobs we do around school?
    Carry on doing them if they add value to the contract. i.e. teaching how to use projector saves us much time in callouts.

    4. What about help desk (is it local to school or based in India)?
    Not local to school, but not in India either :P

    5. How much access and freedom do the remaining IT staff have?
    **Hearsay warning** Internet may be monitored at LEA level, from what I hear. Don't yet know more than that. **Hearsay warning**

    6. How many redundancies have been made (either by economic reasons or change of conditions)?
    Very few, fresh employment opportunities being created - managerial for the most part.

    7. What new opportunities are opended up (I don't mean moving on up the managed service provider)?
    Training is offered where there is a perceived shortage, or where it benefits your current role.

    8. If there are any Network Managers left in BSF schools are they supported and allowed to stay - or are they "encouraged" to move on or up?
    Network Manager is a required position, but I can't imagine there's all that much to do, even purchasing is done entirely via Northgate's catalogue (except in case of unplanned & immediate need).

    10. During the Interim service do things remain the same or do new systems, software and hardware get forced on us?
    Looks like things remain the same, for the Interim, with the additional of their call logging software

    11. How are hours, holidays and salaries affected?
    Hours unknown yet (we do flexi time atm, but it's not written in our T&Cs), holidays and salary will be the same, (possibility for more flexibility on holidays? - we're not allowed more than 1 consecutive day off during term time atm)

    12. How are the remaining IT staff supported (local, remote only)?
    Remote centre, callouts available, also help from technicians in nearby schools on offer.

    13. What sort of improvement (or worsening) of service is provided by having EVERY IT call routing through a possibly foreign helpdesk?
    They say we should still respond to adhoc queries and that calls can be logged retrospectively by teachers/ourselves.
    Do the network managers Manage the Servers still or is that done by Northgate ?

    And wasn't Deaks the NM of a BSF Northgate School retrenched by Northgate ?

  8. #37
    Slewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit View Post
    Do the network managers Manage the Servers still or is that done by Northgate ?
    Yeap, Network Managers are still responsible for keeping the servers running from day-to-day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit View Post
    And wasn't Deaks the NM of a BSF Northgate School retrenched by Northgate ?
    As I mentioned, I don't know for certain, but that's what I've gathered.

  9. #38
    Grommit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slewis View Post
    Yeap, Network Managers are still responsible for keeping the servers running from day-to-day.


    As I mentioned, I don't know for certain, but that's what I've gathered.
    Are these the old servers or the New BSF servers ? as I understand Northgate was keeping the existing setup untill they take fully over and purge the Networks and rebuild a new network

  10. #39
    Slewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit View Post
    Are these the old servers or the New BSF servers ? as I understand Northgate was keeping the existing setup untill they take fully over and purge the Networks and rebuild a new network
    :-/
    I can't state this as fact, since we're not upto that stage yet, we go to Integrated Services on Feb 1st.

    Buut, from what we've been told our School is being managed in three stages:

    1. Integrated Services: They supply a Helpdesk but otherwise work with what we've got for 6months.
    2. Core Services: ??? your guess is as good as mine, we've got kit that desperately needs updating, so we're hopeful.
    3. School rebuilt: We're congenially assured that as I.C.T. Technicians/NM we'll have a say in the new network.

    lol - Just now received a request through to send bank details etc etc via Email to NG... but it's okay, since all NorthGate systems are encrypted! ~Graciously, they will also accept hard copies however, for us sticklers.
    Last edited by Slewis; 15th January 2010 at 05:07 PM.

  11. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit View Post
    Are these the old servers or the New BSF servers ? as I understand Northgate was keeping the existing setup untill they take fully over and purge the Networks and rebuild a new network
    The norm with BSF is to tupe the staff over before the infrastructure changes too dramatically. Then all the kit that's not good enough to meet the set criteria is replaced with new, servers, PCs et al.

    Once the new kit is in the Techies and NM will continue looking after the day-to-day running of the servers, with Support Consultants being called in if anything major needs doing.
    The support consultant's position will probably not exist in the local area so any NMs worth their salt can also look at this position for progression.

    In Leeds no-one was canned, even the really bad staff. If they're talking about not carrying all staff over, you probably have too many in the 1st place. I know it sounds harsh, but we're running a school of 1200 kids, with almost 1000 bits of kit, with 2 guys. There were 3 before BSF with half the kit.
    If you're any good you'll be fine, there will, un-doubtedly, be a few bad techies who have reason to worry.

    I know it's a big change, but for Education and schools to progress they need this kind of up-heaval.

  12. #41

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    I am going to work for Northgate from 1st of April providing they short out my pension paper work, was meant to be last October some time but paper work has dragged on.

    I was just wondering how the whole call time response thing work, as lets face it there is nothing in my school contract about responding to calls in 15 mins, which was a time mentioned in one of my two meetings with them.

    Is there any way they can actaully enforce this?

  13. #42
    MWT
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    Call response just means the time in which you go down assess the issue and give an estimated fix time. Yeah, they'll likely want it as the school can (and will) financially penalise them for not keeping to it as stipulated under the BSF agreement.

    But I doubt they can punish you for missing their target time, so long as you can explain why. I.e. that you were working on xyz and not just swanning off, so to speak.

  14. #43
    ngreenwood's Avatar
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    Nope, not in this case, the SLA is from first report to fix. The contract between the LEA and the MS provider will involve cash fines if SLAs are missed. It is up to the MS provider to ensure that each site has enough people to cover any 15 minute calls.

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    MWT
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    Hmm, perhaps thats for 'core services'? My experience thus far (as I should have stated) is just the interim service.

  16. #45
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    True, in the interim service there is usually no SLA. As it is usally old kit that the MS provider cant really be held responsible for. When the new gear is formally accepted the SLAs will kick in.

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