Figured I'd give a rundown of what we did when I was asked to help drag a local school out of the dark ages (read: win3.1, etc..).
A few things were pretty key right from the outset:
Bizarrely the school had been networked and yet nobody had actually put together a network backend (ie: server) or actually started putting the machines on it. As a result there was a single ISDN connection to the net and to make matters worse, for 2 years the ICT suite had a broadband connection that had been waiting on someone to plug in a BT box and turn it all on.. Classic case of people not talking to each other.
So, my first job was to get a server on the system and we opted for Win2003 with plenty of hard drive space and RAM so it could act as central print server, domain, fileserver, and of course net gateway.
We had one in each classroom and every single one was not working.. Nobody printed because they didn't work or because they required so much head cleaning to remove clogs that the cartridges needed replacing and they didn't know how to do that so I think 15 pages a month got printed... badly!
I'd been looking at CIS (continuous ink supply) kits for about a month at that point so we decided to have a "play" with two of them and centralise all printing to the ICT lab. Thankfully it all worked and teachers slowly got used to being able to print whatever they wanted in full colour.
There's now a CIS enabled MP500 multifunction (so they can do colour photocopying and print), 2 x iP4200's, 2 x Epson D88's and the two original C84's dotted around the school and we're getting to grips with login scripts to make it easier to print to "local" printers. Printers are also pooled (WinXP/Win2003 make this easy) so printers share the jobs as if they were a single printer and there's no hastle choosing other printers either.
Most of the computers were out of the ark with 256mb of RAM, 1300 Duron CPU's and only 10Gb of HD space being the best I had to work with. The rest were pretty much ancient abacus style calculators with a wide variety of OS's..
Probably the biggest and most important decision we made was to upgrade in blocks of 14 or so.. meaning we bought kit for 14 new PC's (socket A-2800, 512Mb RAM, 40Gb HD) and I got to build them myself. The other thing we avoided was cheap Dell systems that we couldn't upgrade at a later date.
The following year we moved to a further 12x Socket 939 boards that could take the newer AMDx2 CPU's but with 3000Mhz CPUs installed.. 512Mb RAM again and 80Gb HD's... They overall objective being that these systems can be upgraded to x2 4800 CPU's in around 2 years time when they are cheap and thus get a double+ performance hit for minimal outlay and NO OS reconfiguration or reinstallation. This year I'm building a further 6 PC's so the special needs room can have the three salvageable AMD 2000Mhz PC's for their work but all in all we made the NGfL money stretch a long way
...cost a small fortune but we opted to get WinXP through the LEA licensing scheme and a secondary school was able to sell it's old Office2k licenses so we were able to kit all the PC's with new sofware.
All in all the budget has spent out around ¬£30k in 3-4 years and if truth be known I've been learning on the job in all that time so I was pretty cheap throughout but the key was ensuring we had standard systems that could be upgraded in blocks so upgrades won't ever need to be done in a massive chunk which would cost a fortune in one go.
Backup? what backup... 8O
As for backups, well we learned that one the hard way.. originally we were short of cash so we just skipped it and just recently the server went a*se over t*t when a faulty CPU cooler fan bearing failed taking out the CPU and motherboard.. I got lucky that day and got all the data and a new Motherboard after some serious fairy godmother wand waving action (bless her) but we've now opted for putting a spare Win2003 license on another box, locating that in the new classroom block as a spare domain controller and backup PLUS a network connected hard drive to be located in the heads office as a basic backup... Tapes were considered but frankly unless you have a seriously good policy that's adhered to, re: swapping and taking tapes offsite there's not much point IMHO...
Anyways.. Just a "short" story of a sustainable approach that worked remarkably well.. Hope it helps.
Thanks for everyone's help. This forum is such a breath of fresh air from the way some other forums (non computer stuff) can turn out to be sometimes!
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