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General Chat Thread, Software Alternatives in General; Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, just trying to plan a bit. What are the alternatives (preferably free) to ...
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    Hightower's Avatar
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    Software Alternatives

    Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, just trying to plan a bit.

    What are the alternatives (preferably free) to RM products used/features.

    Examples:

    RM Tutor --> iTalc
    EasyLink --> Addon for Moodle that covers this

    Print Management --> ????

    Can't think of others at the moment but if you have moved CC3/4 --> Vanilla what software did you replace some of the RM stuff with?

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    Marci's Avatar
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    Print Management --> Papercut
    RM SmartCache --> Smoothwall / Censornet
    RMVP4 --> Sophos
    Software Deployment --> Standard Microsoft way of deploying software
    RM Tutor --> iTalc / NetSupport (NetSupport IS RMTutor)

    That's about it really. Everything else is just a wrapper to simplify doing account management directly within AD.

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marci View Post
    That's about it really. Everything else is just a wrapper to simplify doing account management directly within AD.
    Yep - that's what I keep telling the boss. It's all a wrapper to make it prettier. Printing was the one I was stuck on.

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    Marci's Avatar
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    I think the main benefit of RM is, if it all goes wrong there is a number you can call who is contracted to assist til it's sorted... whereas with vanilla it's down to your knowledge and whatever you can find using your own resources (especially if your employer won't get you the necessary qualifications to do the job).

    We were planning to shift from CC3 to Vanilla this summer, but since that decision was made we've lost 1x fulltime tech and our Network Manager, leaving myself and a part-time tech. I therefore suggested the decision to abandon the vanilla plan in favour of shifting to CC4, purely on the basis that there aren't enough of us in the department to support a vanilla network - if we hit an issue, there aren't enough of us to allow (for instance) myself to dedicate a day or more trying to find the solution... the day-to-day demands on the department keep us working flatout as it is...

    If we still had the other fulltime tech and the Network Manager, then yes, there were enough of us then to allow any one of us to be out of action for several days working on a single issue.

    So, a balance of manpower vs knowledge vs budget was the decider for us... it's rarely as clearcut as RM vs Vanilla - you have to consider all the factors.

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    Yep, completely understand that argument. We've got certain SLA's with the LEA though which we plan to keep in place in case the brown stuff hits, so there's always a level of escalation which is not a bad thing to have.

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    Marci's Avatar
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    Our LEA will only cover the admin network, they won't touch the curriculum side of things unless we hand over vast amounts of money (which exceed the cost of us employing another fulltime technician). If only everywhere were equal...!

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    Maybe we should start up a new vanilla network support group. Heading that way too, probably next summer, and the thought of not having that nice umber to call up and shout at someone is a bit of a worry. Gonna be funt hough I think. Something meaty to get my teeth into.

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    Don't forget if you use a third party company, you will be paying a premium for support.

    We moved to a vanilla network 4 years ago after I recommended it and now save the school cú10k PA just on support.

    Oh and moving across really isn't that bad. Yes its change, but there's always Edugeek!

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    I'm not worried about moving, just need to know what people use in place of RM functions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marci View Post
    I think the main benefit of RM is, if it all goes wrong there is a number you can call who is contracted to assist til it's sorted
    thats not always the case. ours is a long drawn out story, but lets just say not the case in the slightest (pm if you want further details)


    Hightower:
    Pretty much what Marci said, I'd also throw Impero into the hat for classroom/network control, it was tested here alongside Rm Tutor and easily came out the winner by a mile.
    For software deployment MSI via AD, although ive written a little tool that will now wrap up an msi, send it to the machine, remotely install, etc. So for installing to one machine or a few random machines is easier.

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    Don't forget if you use a third party company, you will be paying a premium for support.
    But for schools they usually see this as the cheaper option as they can get cheaper staff. Also take into account if the brown stuff hits the fan, will school pay for overtime etc to resolve issues. Personally I think it's swings and roundabouts. If you have a budget which will allow you to run Vanilla with enough staff to manage it, then great go for it, but if you don't then systems such as RM, Viglen etc aren't to be written off as being 'not proper networks' because as pointed out they still take a great deal of time to manage!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edu-IT View Post
    But for schools they usually see this as the cheaper option as they can get cheaper staff. Also take into account if the brown stuff hits the fan, will school pay for overtime etc to resolve issues. Personally I think it's swings and roundabouts. If you have a budget which will allow you to run Vanilla with enough staff to manage it, then great go for it, but if you don't then systems such as RM, Viglen etc aren't to be written off as being 'not proper networks' because as pointed out they still take a great deal of time to manage!
    In my case it's different then. We've gone from having three people running a viglen network of 250 PC's to a Vanilla network with me and 500 PC's!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hightower View Post
    Print Management
    PyKota, although I only used PyKota's page-counting library as a basis for my own system.

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    Also ABTutor for classroom/network control

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    Quote Originally Posted by MK-2 View Post
    thats not always the case. ours is a long drawn out story, but lets just say not the case in the slightest (pm if you want further details)


    Hightower:
    Pretty much what Marci said, I'd also throw Impero into the hat for classroom/network control, it was tested here alongside Rm Tutor and easily came out the winner by a mile.
    For software deployment MSI via AD, although ive written a little tool that will now wrap up an msi, send it to the machine, remotely install, etc. So for installing to one machine or a few random machines is easier.
    Depends which version of Impero you're running. Version 3 includes an MSI deployment tool allowing you to distribute apps to PCs en masse. And it includes Print Management through a quota/credit system. So probably worth looking at.

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