Oh dear - hope my other comments were useful though
I will show you how to set up a test area to play with first then work from there. BC2 will be on the back burner as it is my plan to get as much info into you and give you my number to bounce ideas of off me, as live chat is sometimes better than a forum (no offence to here, as I usually bounce ideas here when I have the time).
Also, who is your local support and have you signed a contract for the new financial year? if not I will give you the number for a VERY good support company who will help regardless of the system you have and will not tell you whats the best system!
Hmmm, sounds like "stick with RM as our guys know how to fix it". I sometimes had run-ins with one of the LEA's techies when they sent him here - he was always dialling his manger to moan that he didn't know what to do because our system was different from the other schools. I always felt like telling him "That's right, ours has basic security principles applied.."
I've found that running a vanilla 2003/2008 network keeps you on your toes more as well, as there's more steps (ie the actual steps!) needed to doing things as you have to do everything yourself! But you also get a great sense of satisfaction from creating your own thing from the ground up and then seeing it working day in day out
I think small steps are in order, and like some have suggested, it sounds good to me to start learning the vanilla way independantly from my school network. That way I can make a smooth changeover if I decide to go non-RM in the future. If it was just my head on the line I think I would I go with my gut instinct that RM is probably not the best way to go. But at the end of the day i've 400 kids here who's education will be affected if it all goes belly up, plus an LEA who seems to be on the RM bench as it were. Time is a concern to me as well, as CC4 is creeping in..
Take the time to document why a vanilla network is better, cheaper and more productive to run than an RM network. Believe me there is nothing like being thrown into the deep end!
If you want too, bring a pad of paper with you, I can give you some pointers on what to specifically put in. The previous tech here did that himself and the realisation that not having to pay for CC3 (and its upgrades on a yearly basis) was more than enough for them to go for a vanilla network.
Definately a good idea to learn from your own mini-network while the main ones keeps working as it is, and yes small changes are a must!
I made the mistake of making some *huge* changes within the first few months when I started here, and everyone hated me for it. Forget the fact that the old system didn't work 90% of the time, this new working one was strange and scary and on more than one occasion I got a verbal lynching from a lot of staff!
Cut to 3 years later and they all love how everything works, as soon as something doesn't it's the 'end of the world as we know it' type scenario
So yes, it's perfectly possible to go from a pre-made network to a vanilla network, it just takes some learning and some patience on the part of the users too.
The deep end IMO is the best place to be, I find books to be floatation devices when in deep water, oh and EduGeek, that's like a rescue boat when the water gets really really deep!
The attached image shows edugeek coming to the rescue, and that's me in deep water struggling when times get hard!
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