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General Chat Thread, Suggest some options, please. in General; ...
  1. #16
    mthomas08's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    Virtualisation, a lot of people will pooh-pooh Hyper-V but it works well for me here, and is cheaper than the equivalent VMWare solution would be. If you're going to go with Hyper-V though you'll want to use Server 2012 for your hosts, which is a pretty horrible server OS but has lovely features like deduplication. I'd still use 2008R2 for all your guest servers though. Seriously. 2012 is painful to use.

    Merging networks, I've never done it but a single domain will make like simpler, and there's no reason to have it split these days.

    Software, buying Adobe Creative Suite is well worth considering if your departments have a need of it, it was about £5k for CS5 for me but that was a site licence for Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, InDesign... so much of it gets used so often that it's more than worth the cost.
    +1 here, we use Hyper V with no issues: This holds our Printserver for a print management system called PCount and all our other network printers, our Virus Protection which is Mcafee/epolicy orchestrator and we have had no problems with this. The server also holds our threat management gateway (so our Frog can get to the outside world), Program server (dedicated to all the network/department software) and some SQL stuff we also have.

    Its not heavily used but it manages very well - no problems so far.

    We are a vanilla network, almost 1000 PCs/Laptops, we heavily use Exchange/Home Drives and the system in general.

    VLE: We use Frog, gives us all the VLE functions and it has Secure Gateway which allows any home Windows/Mac to connect to a classroom of PCs. We don't have the capacity for virtual machines (shame really because that would work too). Frog also allows any staff member to create online resources not just a file browser, don't have to be clued up with IT either.

    Our LEA is EIS and they serve us well, new Lightspeed allows any BYOD to work with a domain username/password but we put the Wi-Fi code in for the users. I like the idea of giving it out but I think we need to tighten things up first.

    We use SIMs (capita) and again this serves us well, we did use Bromcom a long time ago in a galaxy far far away and have not looked back since.

    We also have Macs on our system which go through a Mac server which then connects up to our AD system, our technician spent the last 12/18 months getting it just perfect (after them ignoring us for years how they should do it). We are unable to get iPads working on the Mac server due to its OS, we would have to upgrade which will cost us.

    Have about 90% Wireless covered, some areas could do with a better system though - age/speed not coping so well these days.

    Not sure what else to add, but hopefully the above helps.

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    X-13 (15th January 2013)

  3. #17

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    i have merged admin and curric networks in the past (and will again im trying to get all my schools on 1 network makes life easier as it seems overkill to have a domain for 2-5 pcs for sims. I tend to have a lower spec server for sims and all it runs is sims (and possibly av/wsus) and the admin users user areas and is just a member server.

    hyper v again no issues not gone too far with it just started setting up servers as hyper v (single main box) to split roles off and it also means if the server dies hopefully i can just copy the vhd files off and away i go again on a new box. again its primarys so having 2 server boxes is rare (though school im in has 3 but ones not a dc its a hp mocroserver doing backup and mdt/wds/av)

    As to support contracts thats basically what i do im employed by a 3rd party private company the school takes out a contract with that company for usually 3 hours a week and then they get me (or whoever) at their school at whatever timeslot they want so for example im at this school approx 11-2 tuesdays and 11-1:30 thursdays to do whatever needs doing. Im also at the end of the phone (some schools have my mobile some dial the office (depends if they abuse it like one teacher who phoned up christmas day asking me to fix their kids netbook)) The school can buy more time if needed for installs etc (if its just a half hour extra for something i just dont tell the office and they wouldnt care anyway) got remote set up so like this friday a school needed i can animate 2 installed for monday so remoted inm tested on vms and fired out from the office. It does depend on the company though im sure will go right its 3 im off but i feel a bit of extra time costs nowt and people do appreciate it (usually)
    Last edited by sted; 15th January 2013 at 02:24 PM.

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  5. #18

    witch's Avatar
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    @X-13 I think you mentioned CC4? @bossman is the man to speak to about this

    Anti-virus - ESET NOD32 - never lets me down..

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    X-13 (15th January 2013)

  7. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    @X-13 I think you mentioned CC4? @bossman is the man to speak to about this
    We have CC4 at the moment. But we want to get rid of it.

    I would say "kill it with fire" but I feel that wouldn't be enough.

  8. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    We have CC4 at the moment. But we want to get rid of it.

    I would say "kill it with fire" but I feel that wouldn't be enough.
    I take it you don't like it, I really don't understand why people have so many problems?

    Did you upgrade from CC3?

    I know a school not far from us who have gone down the vanilla route from CC3 after costing a CC4 new build, it seemed the CC4 new build looked a little costly at first, after 3 months of building and testing they have cobbled together a Vanilla system but have met with quite a few issues and it is still an ongoing process which takes many man hours and money.

    It seems it has worked out a little more costly than if they had gone CC4 new build, but now they are Vanilla I am sure they will keep it that way for the time being.

    I have looked at Server 2012 with Windows 8 clients and this will probably be the way I go using our Xenserver hypervisor to build and test before we migrate, I will also be looking at what RM's solution will be before making the strategic move based on cost, functionality and purpose.

    RM software has served us very well for the past 11 years and has cost us very little as we don't buy hardware or support from them and our Xenservers have cost us a meagre £1200 plus the cost of the servers and they too have served us well so far and I envisage at leastanother 5 years from them if not more.

    All following servers are virtualised:
    AV = Kaspersky which has been excellent and as we purchase from our LA it is very cheap.
    MIS = Capita Sims.net which works very well even with Solus 3 deployment software.
    Backup = BackupExec 12.5 works well in conjuction with auto tapeloader (16 tape LT04) and Diskbox running Windows storage server2003R2.
    Network = Curriculum and Admin all on one CC4 network using the appropriate permissions and group access rights.
    VLE = Moodle 2.2 hosted internally but managed in conjunction by us and outside development team.
    Remote access = RM secure RDP terminal services which has never failed us yet.
    Webserver = Ubuntu 10.04 which hosts our website
    Media server 2008R2 = Used for streaming films and media clips
    License server = Server 2008R2
    FTP server = Ubuntu 10.04 for students web designs and development.

    If I have missed anything then I can't remember but might remember tomorrow hehe!
    @X-13: All the best in your Vanilla adventure wish you well

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    X-13 (16th January 2013)

  10. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    It's been decided that we're going to look at vanilla networks, though linux is also an option.
    Samba 4 was released a few weeks ago, with full support (seemingly) for acting as a Windows Domain Controller, so you don't have to have a Windows server acting as a DC even if you use Windows clients. Also server-side, I've found FreeNAS to be excellent (FreeBSD based rather than Linux, but you don't actually ever need to see the underlying OS, you just use the nice web interface). It serves files with proper ACL management (taking care of your restricted-access-to-some-file-areas requirement), does snapshot versioning and, given enough RAM, can even do real-time deduplication. If I was designing a new system, I'd probably go for a central FreeNAS box with a mixture of high-speed and slower but higher-volume harddrives as your central file store, with snapshots taken every day and synced offsite (which FreeNAS can do for you, too).

    Our MIS is currently Integris, but our Finance officer is worried about it being pulled as it's bought by our LEA. [Which we pay them for.] So any suggestions would be helpful.
    We use SchoolManager - I don't really have that much to do with it as the company that sells it seems to deal with most issues, which is rather how such a system should work.

    We're also talking about virtual servers. Which I mentioned to our HT ages ago.
    We've recently been buying workstations from VeryPC - their all-in-one workstations really are nice, and with good after-sales support (they were actually useful in getting a graphics card issue sorted out, a situation I can't really imagine Dell or similar being much use with). If you're looking for storage or virtualisations servers, their hardware looks like a good idea, too, with the selling point being low power consumption - checking costs for colocated servers the other day, I was surprised to learn that you actually pay the same price these days for 1U or 2U colocation, what actually costs you is power consumption. I haven't actually directly used their server hardware myself, although we've had a conversation on here with them a while back in which they seemed to know their stuff about server harddrive performance.

    Windows 2008r2 [virtual] servers with Win7 clients [Laptops for all staff with docking stations rather than full desktops. Our HT's idea. I actually like it.] [With a second server as a OMGWTFBBQBACON emergency backup to use if the first one dies.]
    Yes, that's how I'd do it too - the second server needn't be a fully-specified as the first, either, just enough to keep a minimal system running until you can fix the first server. For a primary server, something with as many cores and as much RAM as affordable makes sense. Don't pay for a virtualisation system, the free versions are just fine, and you don't need a SAN, local storage on the servers is just fine (I see that the latest thing from HP is the "virtual SAN", which strikes me as a way of paying for something to sit in the way between your VMs and some raw disk partitions).

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  12. #22
    mdench's Avatar
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    +1 for the smoothwall got one here and will never go anything so easy to use and just works. This works really nicely with BYOD create a wifi network on a vlan point the default gateway at the smoothwall and set up the SSL login page and they get filtered internet access. Though some people will have issues until the ios6 bug is fixed but this can be worked round for general internet use if they download chrome as an additional browser.

    For virtualisation depending on how comfortable you are with linux you could look at running cloud stack on ubuntu or another distro. We have it set up on the following:

    1 x HP G5 quad core and 6gb ram (cloudstack controller) though this will become two so we have fallover
    4 x HP G7's - dual 6 core processors hyper threaded (24 cores) with 96gb
    1 x MSA200 Fibre channel enclosure with additional shelf gives around 5 - 6TB (i think)
    all connected together running HP fibre channel switches.

    We have multiple windows and linux VMs running quite happily on this.

    We also run BackupPC on top of ubuntu sitting on a large super micro chassis with 24 x 2tb disks giving plenty of storage space.

    Remote access even though it was shot down in our place +1 for HAP+ took me all of about 20 mins to get it up and running and web facing being able to login and see documents etc. Very well thought out and rapidly developing through the feedback on here.

    For anti virus we have started installing avast and so far seems to do the job and the machines run alot faster than before when we had mcafee installed :S

    For PCs we use stone or novatech as of this year and novatech have been great for getting prices etc. Brilliant customer service pinged an email off and he was on the phone within 5 mins wanting to confirm different bits as what i wanted was no longer available. Can't fault them.

    I'd also recommend dropping novatech an email when looking for HP kit as they always come with a reasonable price and most of the time cheaper than most places.

    Also try and see what the subjects are looking to do in the future. A lot of ours have moved to doing a lot more digital / media work which is needing ever increasing disk space. So if you can come up with a fairly decent expandable storage solution you could save yourself a bit of pain in the future.

  13. Thanks to mdench from:

    X-13 (16th January 2013)

  14. #23
    CAM is offline

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    Just remember, it's a good idea having something fancy at this stage but if you get hit by a bus will someone else be able to pick the system up quickly? On that note, document the hell out of this project! It's a good career boost for one.

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  16. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    @witch we're down in Essex. The same LEA as @north-ict [If north-ict is who I think they are...]
    Yup thats right

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    X-13 (16th January 2013)

  18. #25
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    You could these Burconix - Professional ICT Solutions for Education and SME I know they helped replace a quite a few CC3 and CC4 Networks and other managed systems with mostly Vanilla Solutions and also provide a set of Management Tools on top if you want for Application Deployment, Shortcut Deployment, Printer Deployment, User Management including creating Automatic AD Exchange Accounts, Station Startup and Shutdown, we use their Tools and have used tgem for a few things and they are excellent think they are at BETT for the first time this year as well. They also provide Remote and telephone Support as well as Server Warranty Support and Managed Service if you wanted to go down that route but are really flexible in what they offer and competitive in pricing.

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  20. #26

    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    As a final thought - for network management you can do a lot with tools like NetSupport and Impero, so worth asking for a demo on them. They're not cheap but they are powerful, and are useful for teachers wanting to control a class as well.

    I should go do my own job now, really.

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  22. #27
    DSapseid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    Basically, I'm looking for advice on everything. From broadband suppliers to hardware vendors. Client software, home access [plus+ :P], any server management suites [I like CC4's management console...], admin software... You name it, I'm probably looking for it.

    We're also talking about virtual servers. Which I mentioned to our HT ages ago.

    This is what we're discussing at the moment:

    Broadband from BT, with a Smoothwall box for filtering. Windows 2008r2 [virtual] servers with Win7 clients [Laptops for all staff with docking stations rather than full desktops. Our HT's idea. I actually like it.] [With a second server as a OMGWTFBBQBACON emergency backup to use if the first one dies.]
    MS Office software via EES.
    Antivirus... No clue. Definately not Sophos.
    I mentioned HAP+ for file access, but people keep talking about other things... PAID things. [I see no HAP+ costs £xx anywhere. If I'm wrong let me know, please.]

    There was also talk of Linux for Schools with a Win7 theme on the clients [therefore bypassing "it's different therefore I shall complain"].

    Our Admin network is currently seperate from our curriculum network, but that may change. There's been talk of it for a while, but nothing has happened. The current admin network shares would become shares on curriculum, but would only be available to specific people on specific machines. [If there's any issues that could come up from this, let me know, please.]
    When i started here 7 years ago we ditched RM and merged admin and curric and havent looked back since. This summer i completed a second full rebuild of the network from scratch, new servers, san, switches etc.

    For Server Vitualisation have a look at Citrix XenServer ive used it for the past 4/5years now and its good and the free edition does pretty much everything apart from HA. I would recommend having 2/3 virtual hosts so if one should die then the others can take the load of the one that died.

    We also have citrix access gateway for remote access for staff (possibly students in the future but not at moment).

    As regards buying hardware i bought all my HP Servers and SAN this summer through Joe @CPLTD he also had to deal with with my leasing company dragging there heels but top service as always!

    Forgot to mention managment consoles! We use Papercut for print credits and its brilliant and not to expensive either, for passwords i created a custom mmc to give staff the access to change passwords for students and it works fine.
    Last edited by DSapseid; 16th January 2013 at 12:27 PM.

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