Redstone is one of a number of Becta Accredited Internet Service Providers.
Ful details of those that gained accreditation (in 2006) is available here on the Becta site.
Full details of what this entails is available here.
They have SuperJANET access via their London exchange, but they do not mention what that connection is, what the conditions for using that service are or what the benefits are.
They are presently not a member of the UK Access Management Federation, the organisation that is operating the standards for common authentication between NEN services, connectors and providers. Something you need to consider if your school intends to link in with services provided by your LA or regional provider. This can range from hosted VLEs to content resources such as the British Pathé library and Audio Networks.
If you are looking for a raw pipe they provide a good service, and this is different to the Becta accredited service ... If you wish to speak to a school using them then let me know and I will give you their contact details.
Ever since I started working in schools (about 6 years now I think) I've heard the "must be able to connect to the NEN" type argument used against those wanting to ditch their RBOC access arrangements but I've not heard of or seen anything concrete that would justify it.
Is there something coming "real soon" that needs it? :)
Think key here is in free access to janet as janet is on the nen....
But then maybe you are right as not looked into it fully enough to give 100% answers but woudl make sure that access to nen is written into the contract
But as Tony said nen is only one thing to look at..
This is what i'm trying to find out about the last 3 years and still not near any definitative answer. What i like to know is that if a school goes with another supplier(s) and do not have access to NEN then -
Originally Posted by SimpleSi
- What are they losing out right now?
- Are they in breach of any regulation/requirement by not on or having access yo NEN
- what kinds of stuff is up comming (ie. 1-2 years time) on NEN to persuade headteachers and NM advising headteacher(s) to go with a provider that can allow NEN access?
For me the RBCs should be concentrating on delivering core services i.e. three basic ones - 1) Reliable internet access, 2) Reliable web filtering 3)Reliable e-mail filtering.
The rest i.e. VLEs can be looked at further down the line if required. The single big grip that i have with RBCs is the reliable internet access and web filtering which is not good enough to support the school's AD or other Directory services account's to make the decision to allow access to site/resource or not. This is the real single sign on (SSO) that needs to happen before the grand and wonderful projects (SSO) to link up RBCs to RBCs and seamless access to resouces across the RBCs.
I think there are too many people with idealistic ideas that are trying to get their ideas implemented and this often leads to rushed solutions that are not robust enough and neither does it meet all the requirements of schools.
To some extent i can only truly comment about EMBC and explain about certain Govt targets and how LAs and RBCs are trying to come up with answers.
Firstly, as much as I would say the 3 cores you are talking about are important, they are almost regarded as second nature now that people tend to ignore them unless there are serious issues. The recent migration from Fujitsu to Synterix has left problems for East Midlands schools. I won't start saying what should have been, what could have been or what there will be right now ... there are enough threads about that. All I can say is that we should take the 3 core services you have mentioned as if they are a basic facility.
There are other services that are provided by RBCs that people may not be aware of. Most RBCs provide a 'simple' video conferencing facility to allow for non-h323 traffic as well as access to the Janet Video Conferencing Service for H323 traffic. This is before we even consider basic web hosting.
Now we come to Govt agendas. The first one to cover is the Government's target of all students having an online personalised learning space by 2008. This means that for many LAs they will purchase in bulk and should a school want to go their own way or not use the one provided the LA can say they have done their bit ... phrases like 'leading a horse to water...' come to mind ... the natural response from a forward thinking schools might be, 'We have enough water thank you very much, but we are actually after oats now!'
From September 2008 all secondary schools will be expected to provide information to parents covering achievement, progress, attendance, behaviour and special needs, on a timely and frequent basis – this should be at least once per term.
By September 2010 all secondary schools will need to offer parents online access to this information (including the opportunity for secure online access) wherever are and whenever they want.
Primary schools must meet the basic requirement by September 2010 and the online requirement by 2012, though many are already on this journey.
The VLE is an obvious vehicle for this ... again ... LAs want to work on this.
How do RBCs figure in this? Well ... if the VLE is the vehicle for a number of these targets then the RBC must find ways to make everything fit together smoothly. SSO between the portal login (giving a user access to their RBC provided email, their RBC provided filtering and targeted resources) and the VLE is an obvious first step in this too ... then we have the direct connection between MIS and the portal / VLE to allow for real-time reporting.
The VLE then gives rise to the question about how it will be populate with resources ... and those provided by the NEN are an obvious choice in this too.
The NEN is presently limited. Resources are there but they have to be commissioned and paid for. Authentication between sections are not done via SSO but by ACLs ... access is granted by being on the right circuits on the right chunk of the NEN.
Timescales ... SSO between the Gateway / portal of an RBC and 3rd party VLEs varies from RBC to RBC, and VLE provider to VLE provider but there is now a standard and a process to enable it ... but there are a number of hoops to jump through. That is why some schools find it easier to use an in house VLE. SSO from LAN to the RBC Gateway / portal also varies ... but this is coming too.
I wish I could give definitive timescales on all of the above ... hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to for Northants schools (and hopefuly EMBC schools) ... (or better still ... they will be published by LAs in general).
Probably not the complete answer you want, Ash, but I hope it gives some more info.
Thanks for all the info you provide its very helpful to myself and all other edugeek members.
When i mentioned the three core products, i was referring to these as stanadrd and base line package but unfortunately we have found that some of the 3 core products are not up to the mark and this is seen by customers of various RBCs. I do accept that they are the minimum but what i think the problem is the reliablity of them and that's why i mentioned about concentrating on these a bit more rather than forgetting them becuase they have been implemented and are bog standard stuff offered by RBC.
Another grip which i think a lot of feel is that the SLAs are with LA? Now is the LA going to compensate the school for not having internet access for 2 days if that were to happen. Answer is no. they will still change i presume the annual charge for the service. Now weather they charge the company is another matter and if they do then that cost/compensation should be passed on the school. This is why I think it is very necessary to have the SLA's with the schools rather than LAs.
@Geoff, 100mb to school is fine but this is between the central point and the school right? this does not mean that school is getting 100mb Net access speed. That is fine the schools don't need 100Mb line for net access (not yet anyway) but can i ask from central CLEO servers is it 100mb to everyschool that CLEO covers? or just to concentrators or distribution points etc?
Unfortnuately there are various threads here that just make you feel is it right to go with an RBC or go alone or with a Becta Accredited Internet supplier i.e. Redstone. I'm not having a go at the RBCs, just stating what the problems with them at present and some feedback in the hope that they incoporate what is said in these forums and take note of it.
You do an excellent job of informing everybody as to what is happening with EMBC and the general details of RBCs, so thank you for providing the information that sometime should come from the LA but doesn't. Good stuff.
CLEO in cumbria were always a little funny, sometimes requests were handled fine other times they were ignored or botched. The problem seems to be when you ask for something a bit technical to be done and get bounced around different people.
Yeah ... I know communication sucks a bit ... being honest though, this is sort of LA communication ... it is just that we don't have a proper communication plan at the moment so I can get away with talking about things here (in the full knowledge that it is read by other LA staff, by EMBC and by Synetrix ... as well as some Becta bods and a few others).
Originally Posted by ashok
It is almost as official as you get really.
I'm the one who started this thread, and this is the first chance I have had to read since it began. What a lot of strong opinions!
What originally made me ask the question are:
I do not like the web filtering we get from CLEO. It is very restrictive on a number of sites that staff really want to use (YouTube for instance) and inadequate for things that need restricting (flash games for instance). To address the second part of the issue, we bought a SmoothWall Network Guardian so we could have control over what is blocked, but this is an industrial-strength web filter which means we don't need CLEO's.
I do not like having to do security in CLEO's way. I want to serve my own content on my own web server. If I was a Systems Manager in the "real" world I would open up which ports I want and off I go, but with CLEO (whom we pay to provide US with a service) I have fill in a request form, tell them what I want it for, and then only get a reverse proxy allocation. It's as if I work for them, instead of the other way around.
I have a router, I've done a CCNA, I have lots of experience, I have VPN-capable switches, I configure firewalls, I use Group Policies... I've got the skills, but not the freedom.
Anyway, the question I originally asked was if anybody has switched, and what their experiences were. Any takers on that question?
If you were in the 'real world' and connected to a MAN the size of an RBC you would not be just doing it yourself ... you would be filling in paperwork and requesting it too.
Unilever, Ford, HSBC, numerous councils and Govt offices, HM Forces ... not to mention large universities (eg Oxford) have a central team that tell you what you can and cannot do. You are an edge site ...
This is nothing new. It is just that things are starting to be joined up more and so people clash about it.
As you can see - you face an uphill struggle against "the system".
What you need to do is to make a case to your SMT about the benefits vs the downsides and see if they will back you in your bid to change.
If they seem keen to do so, you'll need to point out the wave of hostility and pressure that will descend upon the school.
Now, you can decide (in private) whether you'll (ie. the school) bow to the pressure - both political and financial (but secure a better deal e.g unfiltered access) or whether you are in for the big fight and willing and able to see it through to the end.
As a long time rebel against central control (I used to be wicked and run a WfWG LAN on my "edge site" in a previous job a long time ago when these were verboten by IT Services :) ) I wish you success but I'll put money on it that you won't get the backing you'll need from your SMT :(