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    X-13's Avatar
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    Exclamation Suggest some options, please.

    I'm going to bundle this together, instead of making half a dozen seperate threads.


    We've just had "THE MEETING" regarding what we're going to do with the network. It's been decided that we're going to look at vanilla networks, though linux is also an option.

    We're also probably going to do our own 'net filtering [I got yo back, Smoothwall peeps!]


    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. Capita is a no-go, our HT doesn't like them.

    Support-wise, we've been offered remote-only and emergency server-is-broke-get-here-now support from one company. I'm happy enough to get on with what I need to do, googling/Edugeeking if I'm stuck, but having someone to call in if it all goes Pete Tong is something I'd prefer.

    But if anyone knows of other companies who offer something similar, could you let me know.



    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.


    But no BYOD. Ok... It WAS me who shot this down. TBH, I'm not comfortable supporting Apple ATM. Not from a "I HATE APPLE" standpoint, from an experience [or lack thereof] standpoint. [I know a fair few pupils have macbooks.]


    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.]

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    rich_tech's Avatar
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    EES should cover you for Forefront from M$, personally I would look at 2012 as well for servers, its quite good and again part of most EES agreements

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    Quote Originally Posted by rich_tech View Post
    EES should cover you for Forefront from M$, personally I would look at 2012 as well for servers, its quite good and again part of most EES agreements
    I was thinking of Forefront, but I've seen some REALLY bad reviews.

    I also forgot about 2012...

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    Could you indicate network & school size?

    Regarding merging the admin & curriculum networks, the main thing is reviewing permissions on file shares and ensuring they're appropriate. What works great for a split network (domain users having read access to a share) will bite you if you blindly merge permissions.

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    If you're thinking virtualisation you need to think about what tech you're gonna use to virtualise (vmware/hyperv/kvm) - and how you're gonna provide resiliency. Having an emergency second server is all well and good, but having a clustered pair that protects against a single failure with no downtime is much better.

    Also, I wouldn't totally discount the BYOD option, especially if you're more or less going for a full respec. The remote app/desktop options you choose now can make it much easier for BYOD down the line, for instance a citrix/RDP environment, while costly, would allow you remote access, cross device compatibility and decent security - all the while being more or less BYOD friendly from the get-go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    Could you indicate network & school size?

    Regarding merging the admin & curriculum networks, the main thing is reviewing permissions on file shares and ensuring they're appropriate. What works great for a split network (domain users having read access to a share) will bite you if you blindly merge permissions.

    I knew there was something I forgot...

    There's about 100-odd computers, including laptops and admin desktops, and 800-odd users. I can't give specifics as we have mutiples of some users [system admin/non-system admin] and a few generic accounts for testing.


    When I say merging the networks, I mean create the shares on curriculum [with appropriate permissions].

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    Quote Originally Posted by rich_tech View Post
    EES should cover you for Forefront from M$, personally I would look at 2012 as well for servers, its quite good and again part of most EES agreements
    i just cant work out the licensing for sccm to use forefront i cant get the same answer from 2 people ive been told i need server lics for all sccm server client lics depending on how many sccm client i need or id be tempted to sue that myself it cant be worse than sophos

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    System Center Endpoint Protection is excellent, I'd go for that as it's included with your EES and will save you hundreds a year buying something else in. If you're using that you'll need to use SCCM to manage it, so then you may as well use SCCM to manage your software - it's pretty in-depth but there's some excellent guides out there (windows-noob.com) and once it's running it's brilliant.

    Don't go with BT for your internet, or at least get other quotes - they are much more expensive than other ISPs (something like 50% as much again) because they have a 100% SLA, which is overkill for a school. We're with Vaioni and they've been excellent for us over the last two years, no complaints at all and great value. Smoothwall for filtering is magical.

    Why Linux? If you're going with EES for Office then you're licensed for Windows anyway, may as well stick with what you (and everyone else) know.

    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.

    Backup software? We're using DPM at the moment but it is a bit of a PITA, but then again so is any backup solution. DPM is at least cheap for schools.

    Hardware, I've used Novatech & Stone in the past and got great value for money, SwitchShop are who I go to for network kit, KPMS are who I use for audio-visual (they're Yorks based so may not be relevant to you dependin' on where you're at). Bits and pieces get bought from eBuyer, Insight, BT Business, Misco, CPLTD, Millgate... whoever's got it in the cheapest. Ask if your department can have a procurement card, makes it much easier to get bits if you can buy with a credit card online.

    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.

    Moodle for a VLE, with a partner who are alright, I guess.

    Consider writing an AUP, and even an SLA if you're feeling like a glutton for punishment.

    If I think of anything else I'll come back, I think that's covered most the bases I've been through in the last three years of upgrading from 2003/XP to 2008R2/Win7 (and upgrading the network switches, the server infrastructure, the internet, implementing the VLE...)
    Last edited by sonofsanta; 15th January 2013 at 10:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Domino View Post
    If you're thinking virtualisation you need to think about what tech you're gonna use to virtualise (vmware/hyperv/kvm) - and how you're gonna provide resiliency. Having an emergency second server is all well and good, but having a clustered pair that protects against a single failure with no downtime is much better.

    Also, I wouldn't totally discount the BYOD option, especially if you're more or less going for a full respec. The remote app/desktop options you choose now can make it much easier for BYOD down the line, for instance a citrix/RDP environment, while costly, would allow you remote access, cross device compatibility and decent security - all the while being more or less BYOD friendly from the get-go.
    Didn't think about clustered pairs, I know it was possible to have the server shift to another if the first fails but couldn't remember HOW to do it... Many thanks, good sir.

    I was thinking more of the issues with IO6+Smoothwall with regards to BYOD...


    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    Don't go with BT for your internet, or at least get other quotes - they are much more expensive than other ISPs (something like 50% as much again) because they have a 100% SLA, which is overkill for a school. We're with Vaioni and they've been excellent for us over the last two years, no complaints at all and great value. Smoothwall for filtering is magical.

    Why Linux? If you're going with EES for Office then you're licensed for Windows anyway, may as well stick with what you (and everyone else) know.

    Backup software? We're using DPM at the moment but it is a bit of a PITA, but then again so is any backup solution. DPM is at least cheap for schools.

    Hardware, I've used Novatech & Stone in the past and got great value for money, SwitchShop are who I go to for network kit, KPMS are who I use for audio-visual (they're Yorks based so may not be relevant to you dependin' on where you're at). Bits and pieces get bought from eBuyer, Insight, BT Business, Misco, CPLTD, Millgate... whoever's got it in the cheapest. Ask if your department can have a procurement card, makes it much easier to get bits if you can buy with a credit card online.

    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.

    Moodle for a VLE, with a partner who are alright, I guess.

    Consider writing an AUP, and even an SLA if you're feeling like a glutton for punishment.

    If I think of anything else I'll come back, I think that's covered most the bases I've been through in the last three years of upgrading from 2003/XP to 2008R2/Win7 (and upgrading the network switches, the server infrastructure, the internet, implementing the VLE...)

    BT: I'll pass that along.

    EES/Windows/Linux: the option are Windows via EEs OR Linux. No windows, no EES.

    Backup software: I'll have a look at DPM. Cheers.

    VLE: I was thinking of Moodle or Frog, if we decide to have a VLE.

    Hardware: That's pretty much what I was thinking. Our HT swears by Ergo. [based on experience with them.]

    Software: Creative suite is a bit too much for here. We're a Primary. [I should have mentioned that.]


    We already have an AUP, not that anyone takes any notice...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sted View Post
    i just cant work out the licensing for sccm to use forefront i cant get the same answer from 2 people ive been told i need server lics for all sccm server client lics depending on how many sccm client i need or id be tempted to sue that myself it cant be worse than sophos
    SCCM licencing is simple when you get your head around it. The basic premise for all system center licenses is - you license the end machine being manged not the server being used to mange the machines. Therefore you only need to pay out for server licenses if you are using SC in someway to actually manage some aspect of the server.

    So you might buy a server license for your file server to use DPM and/or Endpoint on that server. You might buy server licenses for virtual hosts if you want use SCVMM to them. But if your DC is completely standalone and separate you might not buy any licenses for it as it's not being managed in any way by SC.

    In terms of SCCM, I'm going to license it for all our workstations but I don't want to use it with any servers. So the ML licenses included within EES is enough to license the use of the program. And that includes licensing the use of a full SQL server to install SCCM on to to manage the clients. Same with Endpoint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    Didn't think about clustered pairs, I know it was possible to have the server shift to another if the first fails but couldn't remember HOW to do it... Many thanks, good sir.

    I was thinking more of the issues with IO6+Smoothwall with regards to BYOD...

    BT: I'll pass that along.

    EES/Windows/Linux: the option are Windows via EEs OR Linux. No windows, no EES.

    Backup software: I'll have a look at DPM. Cheers.

    VLE: I was thinking of Moodle or Frog, if we decide to have a VLE.

    Hardware: That's pretty much what I was thinking. Our HT swears by Ergo. [based on experience with them.]

    Software: Creative suite is a bit too much for here. We're a Primary. [I should have mentioned that.]


    We already have an AUP, not that anyone takes any notice...
    A few extra points:

    Hyper-V clustering works pretty well, use it here between two hosts and it's grand. Just make sure you have lots of RAM - I'd say RAM is more important than processor spec for virtualisation.

    iOS6/Smoothwall should be getting patched, I believe, not that I've followed that too closely.

    EES - with only 100 computers to 800 kids (so what, 40 or 50 staff?) it might be cheaper for you to pay the subscription per computer rather than per FTE staff. You'll have to run the numbers, plenty of software resellers can help you there, just don't assume EES will be the best for your situation.

    VLE - by reputation, Frog costs a lot but is easy to use, Moodle is cheaper (free if you do it yourself) but not necessarily as user friendly. The important thing with any VLE though is not to think it is a magic solution that will make your teaching automatically amazing - they require a lot of work to keep up to date and really get the benefit of. You absolutely need management buy-in to such a system, ideally to the point of directing staff to use some of their PPA time etc. to work on the VLE.

    Hardware - you should be able to get sample builds from companies if you're buying in plenty of time for the summer rush, particularly if you point out that you're just starting out on your own without RM and it's a chance to build a lasting relationship. Consider what length of time you want hardware to run - are you going to replace it every three years or five? There's no tech you can buy and forget about, it all needs replacing on an ongoing basis. Personally we run on 5 years, and get a 5 year RTB warranty on PCs with a handful of spare units on site - that way, when a computer breaks, we can swap it out immediately and have the user up and running without waiting for an engineer to turn up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    EES - with only 100 computers to 800 kids (so what, 40 or 50 staff?) it might be cheaper for you to pay the subscription per computer rather than per FTE staff. You'll have to run the numbers, plenty of software resellers can help you there, just don't assume EES will be the best for your situation.

    VLE - by reputation, Frog costs a lot but is easy to use, Moodle is cheaper (free if you do it yourself) but not necessarily as user friendly. The important thing with any VLE though is not to think it is a magic solution that will make your teaching automatically amazing - they require a lot of work to keep up to date and really get the benefit of. You absolutely need management buy-in to such a system, ideally to the point of directing staff to use some of their PPA time etc. to work on the VLE.
    I used EES to mean general microsoft licensing. I need to check what format would be more appropriate.

    Although, it's not 800 kids. ~700 kids + ~100 staff and system admin accounts. But, we're moving to 4 form entry, so we're going to be getting more.

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    I have a vanilla server2008 R2 mostly windows 7 setup here and it works well.
    I don't know where you are, but in one of my schools I have a cheap support contract that gives me one 2 hour visit a month, and (what I want most), phone support if I am stuck. They will also come out for big problems, or to help with installs etc. It is very hands-off so I can get on with working things out for myself via edugeek and google, but it is always nice to have them there.
    VLE: we have moodle and TBH it has been great but a bit of a pain in cases. All depends how good you are at that sort of thing. Our head of ICT runs it - I keep away from it, but I had to draft in mrwITch to upgrade it! If you paid for support from a moodle company it would be OK
    Licensing - we are a bit smaller and I worked out that IF we had needed to upgrade loads of things at once, or if we were going to buy more kit, EES would be worth it but as it was, I couldnt justify the annual cost so I buy individually at present
    Hardware suppliers: again it depends where you are but I would recommend Millgate (who are here as you know) and Millenium. Misco and ebuyer are fine if you know what you want but the others will give advice!
    Backup - Backup Exec and RDX drives just works
    As for BYOD - I am mostly primary and I don't think it is necessary, even for the teachers, as we still supply laptops for them. The children can bring their own headphones though!
    Our home access is to the VLE via a link on the website
    Um..that's it I think !

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    Smoothwall can do BYOD fairly easily.
    Would definitely recommend Veeam for backing up hyper v servers - free version works well - see this thread Physical and Virtual Server Back Up Software
    Last edited by maark; 15th January 2013 at 12:51 PM.

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    @witch we're down in Essex. The same LEA as @north-ict [If north-ict is who I think they are...]

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