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General Chat Thread, Alternatives to emPSN... whats out their? in General; Hi all, Just like most schools in embc region are I am currently scrambling around trying to find out as ...
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    Alternatives to emPSN... whats out their?

    Hi all,

    Just like most schools in embc region are I am currently scrambling around trying to find out as much information about what is available to us as far as network providers go after October as possible. Been to a few seminars and think the framework is a great idea and not having a one-size fits all approach with regards services should benefit us and our primaries hugely. My main question to those in the know is what alternatives their are outside of the framework.

    • Am I right in thinking the suppliers on the emPSN framework offer hosted managed solutions regarding web and email filtering and if we went outside of the framework we would <strong>have</strong> to investigate alternatives to these hosted within school?
    • Who are the other people who can provide the basic internet connection? I know BT and Virgin Media (along with others) offer edge connectivity into the emPSN network but I am guessing they can also supply a direct connection skipping emPSN all together. If we are not using any of the emPSN services what advantages/disadvantages would skipping the emPSN network provide? Just the added resilience and reliability of the embc network?
    • Has anyone made the jump to leave embc in the past? If so what were your key deciding factors, how has it been since and are you comfortable your students are adequately safeguarded without the safety-net of being part of the embc network?


    Realistically I think we will be staying as part of embc, just wanted as much information and first-hand experience as possible to ensure we make an informed choice.

    Cheers,
    Michael

  2. #2


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    Quote Originally Posted by CyBeRkId2002 View Post
    [*]Has anyone made the jump to leave embc in the past? If so what were your key deciding factors, how has it been since and are you comfortable your students are adequately safeguarded without the safety-net of being part of the embc network?[/LIST]
    If he doesn't spot this, poke @sonofsanta on here - he jumped ship recently.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Watch this space - EMPSN is NOT a broadband provider on it's own. EMPSN (will) exist to help you through such a choice.
    There are better people here than me to comment on this but they will provide a framework for you to get the best solution for your school whether its from Synetrix (capita), RM etc etc.

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    If he doesn't spot this, poke @sonofsanta on here - he jumped ship recently.
    You rang? [/Lurch]

    To be honest, my school jumped ship before I arrived here due to a falling out over performance of the connection and non-payments and so on and so forth... but I investigated going back into the fold as one of the options for getting the school hooked up with fibre a while ago, and moved to a new (non-RBC) connection a year ago.

    In general, the RBC does offer you more than just broadband, true - but we were already operating without most of that anyway, so we weren't going to miss it. Operating without the technical safety net of the county helpdesk hasn't been too much of a concern for us; anytime I've not been able to work something out, EduGeek fills in marvellously. Not being hooked in gives me the technical freedom to do what I like as well; in Lincolnshire, at least, being part of the Schools Network brought a lot of technical rules to abide by, down to software you should have installed and how you should name your workstations.

    With regards to e-Safety etc., Smoothwall has been far better at filtering than anything else I've ever known, on or off the RBC grid. Overall everything runs very well these days, and I'm happy we're doing it as we are - we didn't get hit by McAfee's XP breaking AV update as others did, we don't get the downtime I've seen at previous schools with the RBC, we're getting good value for money... honestly, I've got nothing to complain about. It's not so scary as it sounds.

  5. 2 Thanks to sonofsanta:

    JT-Online (6th March 2012), tom_newton (2nd February 2012)

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    thanks for the responses thus far!:

    @synaesthesia: I appreciate that emPSN are not a broadband provider on their own but I am on the understanding that their will be a charge, aside from the edge connectivity and services, that will be payable to KCOM for access into their core infrastructure. Am I right on this or is that cost being incorporated into the edge connectivity charge?

    @sonofsanta: Thanks for the. It seems to me that now that embc has been broken down into a range of services there is a far stronger argument to sticking with them than there possibly was before. The idea of paying for email, web-hosting etc. that we were not using would have had me running for the door. On the whole we are happy with the service provided by embc and find the whole filtering system extremely convenient given the fact that we are lacking the physical storage room, time and finances to host a system ourselves (although I appreciate the latter of these is irrelevant as as long as the hardware holds up it will pay for itself over time).

    Anyone else have information on moving from EMBC and alternatives available.

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    I think your real question is, what do I get from EMBC and what do I need from them, once you have both lists you can workout whether it is worth it.

    As a school that used very little from our local authority, we left it because we paid the same as a school that used a lot but without the benefits. However schools that used a lot/ most of the services provided obviousily chose to stay, prefering to get a lot of services from one central location and having the local authority there to help should they need it.

    The extra factor to consider is, if you left what other schools in yoru area have left (if any), how do they operate and are they someone you can ask if you have a question? Where I am, several schools have left the authority but the IT staff within any school will happily help out any other school whether they are within the local authority services or not. If your local schools are like this then you have an extra safety net. Personally I only used the council helpdesk when there product was the problem, usually the central filtering box had died etc, so when we stopped using there filtering, I stopped contacting them, as we have to go direct to Capita for SIMS support etc.

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    korifugi's Avatar
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    Just a heads up about the whole EMPSN thingummy - they're holding an event in Derby on Jan 30th.

    I'm keeping an eye on this myself as my sites will be affected by the whole change in services.

    I'll be going to the event to see if I can get some answers for myself - I'll add what I know once I know more.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Events are also being held in Leicester/Leicestershire on 26th and Northamptonshire on 27th. I'll stick up more info shortly.

    The whole thing about having to be part of a network with an RBC is a bit mis-leading with some providers trying to sell that it is a bad thing. All connections run over a network ... that network has running costs whether it is BT's 21CN or an allocated portion used by a TELCO or reseller using something like IP Clear ... they all have costs. The costs under the new framework for connectivity are for the access circuit (i.e. from school to the nearest embc networked exchange) and the contribution to the embc's regional / core network, and this is part of the cost to the provider of the edge circuit (i.e. they pass it on to KCOM on your behalf). It is a private WAN so it is built to have more resiliency / redundancy and that can come with a cost, but not as much as some expect.

    There will be no doubt that some schools will find good options with other providers that those on the framework but other won't. Some schools, I am well aware, are opting for different technologies (i.e. going from fibre or leased line copper over to ADSL) and trying to compare like with like ... and it is not. It is a different tech ... managed in a different way ... with different (usually non-existent) SLAs. If that is what school find they want ... then fine ... some of the folk on the framework can deliver that too, but the need should be initially based on educational requirements, then what is technically possible and then balanced against cost.

    Northants Schools have published a toolkit which is designed to help schools look at *all* possible options.

    @CyBeRkId2002 unfortunately (due to conflicts with the day job) I can't give you details of firms who are also operating in the area ... but no doubt a few other members will let you know. As for advice on safeguarding ... I have been trying to get an answer out of DfE on this, as I know some of the filtering providers / connectivity providers are trying ... @nile_c can give you the low down on his frustrations on this ... and still nowhere other than to following the existing guidance on the Becta Accreditation of filtering providers.

  10. Thanks to GrumbleDook from:

    Gibson335 (3rd February 2012)

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    Edu-IT's Avatar
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    I appreciate that emPSN are not a broadband provider on their own but I am on the understanding that their will be a charge, aside from the edge connectivity and services, that will be payable to KCOM for access into their core infrastructure. Am I right on this or is that cost being incorporated into the edge connectivity charge?
    So based on what Tony said, if you choose Virgin Media for example, you'll pay Virgin Media and Virgin Media will pay KCOM whatever they charge. You'll never have anything to do with KCOM as Virgin Media will handle that relationship.

    Correct?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edu-IT View Post
    So based on what Tony said, if you choose Virgin Media for example, you'll pay Virgin Media and Virgin Media will pay KCOM whatever they charge. You'll never have anything to do with KCOM as Virgin Media will handle that relationship.

    Correct?
    Pretty much ... the only folk who are likely to deal with KCOM are those on KCOM access circuits, those running services between schools / sites (i.e. Academy groups wanting interconnections between different parts of the network), LAs who are taking services from the framework (which comes under a slightly different relationship) and emPSN. The idea is to make it as smooth as possible really and what it the point in making you deal with yet another party if you don't need to. Other firms do similar when buying access across networks (re IP Clear, etc) and you don't see it broken down in your bills.

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    as a really brief update (will post something more thorough when I have a few mins free) we have attended all possible regional events and have contacted suppliers for quotes but am still waiting on the majority.

    To date I have received one emPSN quote and one non-emPSN quote for an almost like-for-like service (similar SLA's, filtering, faster synchronous connection etc.) and the non-emPSN quote is around half the price (maybe a little less). It is certainly going to be a hard sell to stick with emPSN and I would urge anyone who is currently on an embc contract to thoroughly investigate the alternatives available to you as you may be paying an awful lot of money for not a lot extra.

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    also if anyone who is in a position to share has any contact details for non-emPSN educational internet suppliers (particularly interested in those that can provide hosted email/web-filtering service) I would be extremely interested in hearing!

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