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General Chat Thread, Starting from scratch in General; Dear All - I seem to had been volunteered to write my own brief for today's ideal infrastructure for a ...
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    Question Starting from scratch

    Dear All -

    I seem to had been volunteered to write my own brief for today's ideal infrastructure for a new free school. The whole thing from the internet connection to the WiFi to the printers to the record management system - from soup to nuts as our American chums would say.

    Some of the ideas in this video from Apple - Apple (United Kingdom) - Essa Academy - resonate strongly with the education team on the project and to be honest limiting the time spent on antivirus alone is worth the cost.

    As school IT professionals and my fellow geeks I'd value your opinions, thoughts and input.

    Ask any questions - I'll do my best to answer.

    Many thanks

    Mouse

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Even Apple devices get malware now. That is no reason to base your network on them in my opinion.

    I need to think before expressing further opinion.

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Apple devices do have serious security holes, don't believe the rubbish that comes out of Apple and their fans on this.
    Anyway, I would say the ideal is to make your core network client device neutral, so anything from Windows PC's to Blackberry phones can connect and use your network in a safe, secure manner. Bring Your Own Device seems to be taking off in schools, so you need to support that, plus the ability to provide devices that are correct for the task in hand which is why saying 'lets go all Apple' is very limiting.

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    For your back end its more than likely that you will still be using Windows servers, as Apple don't really do enterprise software. You will still need a MIS, File Servers and Remote Access for Staff.

    Some of this can be done with Google Apps of Office 365 for free, but not all of it.

    Your Staff at the school will require PCs or Macs to work from, as an iPad is not an appropriate tool.

    There is 'ideal' and then there is 'realistic'.
    Last edited by Mr.Ben; 19th July 2013 at 12:58 AM.

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    CAM
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    Apple malware dev kits were released last year I believe. This makes it as simple to create a virus targeting an Apple platform as it is on a Windows platform. Ironically a FakeAV program was released shortly after and it's spread was compounded by a lack of Antivirus software, Apple's lack of experience in the security field and a somewhat arrogant belief by Apple users that they didn't need security. The response was the way Safari handled downloads was quielty altered to be more in line with Windows browsers so it no longer opened files by default. Apple also removed a load of "no malware here" boasts from their website...

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    I would say at this stage don't limit your self to thinking about 1 end device. Think about trying to provide access to any device, sort your back-end infrastructure to solve that problem, sort your network infrastructure to handle the load and facilitate the connection and interaction, plan your resources and applications (if possible) to give the widest possible access and then you can go to management and be confident to say throw what ever you like at me I can connect it.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    How did you get such a lucky break? To say I'm jealous wouldn't even begin to cover it!

    Things I'll think about...

    • Internet Connection - Gigabit fibre carrier with EFM backup
    • Routers, Firewalls and VPN
    • Switches and VLAN's
    • Managed WiFi - 802.11ab (I think that's the new standard replacing 802.11n)
    • BOYD/1 Device per pupil - Tablets/Android/iPads
    • Server Virtualisation - HyperV vs VMWare - failover clustering
    • SAN's
    • System Center 2012
    • Thin Clients
    • Virtual PC's and/or Virtual Apps
    • iMac's for Music, Art, Media
    • CAD tools and 3D printers for technology
    • Management Information System
    • Help Desk software, Asset Management and Room Bookings
    • Finance Software
    • Assessment and Behaviour Software


    I think I've bearly scratched the surface with that list!

    EDIT: Just realised that list is based off an assumption that the Free school is a secondary school or pretty large primary. For a primary, I think the list would be a little different
    Last edited by tmcd35; 19th July 2013 at 09:37 AM.

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    Let's start with a different approach. Blue sky ideas about tech are all well and good but you're being asked to provide this 'ideal vision' in order to solve a problem.

    So what problems, precisely, is the school hoping to solve with this ideal network setup? How do they see classroom IT requirements, and how do they perceive the support structure for the school? Do staff even have fixed office space or all they all expected to "roam" and find a free bit of desk space wherever they can?
    And if they don't know the answer to that. then you're unable to answer the ideal spec question.
    Last edited by Roberto; 19th July 2013 at 09:38 AM.

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    What he said ^ - you really need to iron out what the school requires and how it wants to work prior to design.

    A difficult and thankless task in my experience, as few people want to spend time REALLY thinking about their requirements in a strategic way, and you can get looked on as being obstructive because you're not "getting on with it" - on the plus side once you've consulted and ticked off the major players and they have all nodded sagely but added nothing to the pot you can go on and do what you want with a clean conscience ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    Even Apple devices get malware now. That is no reason to base your network on them in my opinion.

    I need to think before expressing further opinion.
    This is how I feel.

    I have just been looking at replacement keyboards and mice typical starting price around £40 per pair when I can spend £100 for 30 normal mice/keyboards for Windows PCs. (Course I am looking at Ebay now).

    As for Security breaches they are not "MORE" secure they are simply "LESS TARGETTED" why target something that is usually 10-300 vs Windows machines in a typical network.

    I would seriously consider ALL options before considering Macs. I have a phrase "Macs don't get abused because they are rarely used" which is very true in both schools I have worked at. They are the pretty thing on the table that everyone wants one but then they boot camp them with Windows because there is software that they will want to use.

    Is there alternatives? Yes - Android mixed with Google mail, drive and docs. The tablets will be cheaper then the iPad.

    Your core system as others have said will most likely be Windows based unless you want a more "open" route, you also have a choice of BYOD.

    Next year I will be looking at something regarding mobile tech because our current netbooks 10.1 screens, cheap with Windows 7 Starter are simply not being made any more.
    Problem for us is we have a load of software which we have either purchased for the netbooks or free software which is Windows 7 only so I would have to find alternatives.

    Our staff here prefer to use keyboards but do like the "fancy" tablet route. Again if I was you I would take everyone's advice and pull up different setups and see the cost involved. Was a project I did some years ago for a primary school which was more of a favour for the Head. I would also add you will need to consider the future as well. Prime example is the Macs staff get them and are happy with turn on and work till a year or two later they want to logon, get their drives, software and permission it for users.

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    To answer a couple of points, and to help you to advise me -

    The school will indeed be a secondary school, starting from 2014 there will be an intake of 200 or so students per year.

    The focus on iPads has been shaped by two factors - dependant on one device per child - one of the schools we have talked to has made £60,000+ digit savings on photocopying alone by sending corse work and letters to parents etc as emails. Add to that the savings in text books by teachers making or buying in iBooks.

    We are in the position where we have funding and support to open the school and use IT to influence and shape the teaching within the school - what we don't have is the experience of opening a secondary free school.

    Many thanks for all input - it is greatly appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse77e View Post
    To answer a couple of points, and to help you to advise me -

    The school will indeed be a secondary school, starting from 2014 there will be an intake of 200 or so students per year.

    The focus on iPads has been shaped by two factors - dependant on one device per child - one of the schools we have talked to has made £60,000+ digit savings on photocopying alone by sending corse work and letters to parents etc as emails. Add to that the savings in text books by teachers making or buying in iBooks.

    We are in the position where we have funding and support to open the school and use IT to influence and shape the teaching within the school - what we don't have is the experience of opening a secondary free school.

    Many thanks for all input - it is greatly appreciated.
    Sending emails to parents/students instead of paper has no requirement for iPads. Buying eBooks has no requirement for iPads nor does content creation. All of this can be done using a multitude of devices including any brand of tablet, smartphones and desktop/laptop computers. None of what you have stated requires the school to lock themselves to a particular vendor.

    Is it right for a school to be tied to one vendor, shouldn't a school be vendor neutral so that students can experience a much broader range of different devices which best support the task?
    Would you be happy with a school that for instance only bought books published by Penguin, only allowed students to wear Adidas trainers in PE, could only drink products made by Coca Cola in school?

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    Telephone Systems, Door Access, CCTV and printing are a few things I would add to it. If you are starting from scratch I would implement a MFD based follow me print solution using door access token/swipe card.

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    All good points, thank you.

    On the subject of BYOD -vs- Single vendor whether that is iPad, Samsung Tab, Dell Laptop, whatever...

    Isn't it better to use one device and support it well than to have two or three tier education based on parental income?

    Perhaps this is playing Devil's advocate here but if you have a class where one child has a second hand Dell running XP, next to them is a child with an Android tablet and next to them is a child with an iPad, trying to run a system to support and provide for the lowest common denominator detrimental to the education needs of the whole class?

    Or would you subscribe to using one device - a tablet - as a text book solution to be fully supported and let the child use their BYOD as their 'exercise' book?

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    My issue with tablets is their durability. I admit this is hearsay, but it seems that schools that have implemented them have found that a high percentage don't make it to the end of the first academic year.

    It is all very trendy for students, but seriously I would look at BYOD. If the school relies on the pupils having them for teaching, what happens when the devices break / aren't charged / get dropped / get left on the bus / etc ? It will happen... too often for comfort, I'm afraid.



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