+ Post New Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10
How do you do....it? Thread, Charity School - New Network? in Technical; I've recently taken over management of a charity funded private school (Primary and Secondary - 1 form entry) in East ...
  1. #1
    Zoom7000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    London
    Posts
    927
    Thank Post
    303
    Thanked 79 Times in 52 Posts
    Rep Power
    32

    Charity School - New Network?

    I've recently taken over management of a charity funded private school (Primary and Secondary - 1 form entry) in East London. Completely voluntary work, long hours (in addition to my paid job!) and late nights, but there is a satisfying feeling about doing something for the community. Anyway, that aside, as soon as the teachers learnt I am a technician at a state school, the IT problems came bombarding in.

    The entire network has been put together on the tightest budget possible. Credit to the guy who has put it together he's done a decent job for what very, very limited resources he had. Alas though, the network is in bad shape. It's made up of a majority of thin client machines running NComputing hardware/software. There are 5 reasonably powerful "servers". That is desktop PCs with Core i5 CPUs and ranging from 20GB - 32GB of RAM. These are all running Windows 7 Pro with the NComputing host software that control the thin clients in the school. There is also another "server" - a lower spec machine running ESXi that hosts a DC, File Server and Exchange Server. All Windows Server 2003 - Exchange, I believe is 2003.

    I'll be brutally honest, I hate thin clients. Mainly for the fact that I don't know the architecture too well, but for the fact that in this case it just doesn't work. YouTube is the main complaint from the teachers, it is completely unwatchable. The display stutters similar to a PC without the correct graphics drivers installed. (i.e. Redrawing the entire display with every frame.)

    The AD and File Server are a mess. The teachers have accounts, but none of the students have accounts! They all share 1 account and have free reign to each others' files.

    Also, the Exchange server is a mess. Sent emails are either delayed by 6 - 24 hours or go missing altogether and many, many emails are not received at all.

    The network architecture isn't too bad but it is a 10/100 backbone, which I will obviously look at upgrading to gigabit.

    They also have a bespoke VoIP system for the phones and a bespoke MIS (Schools Pro? I think - Schools Pro - Home)

    The broadband connection is a BT Infinity Advanced Option 2 package. (80Mbps Down 20Mbps Up)

    Now, the questions I have:

    Should I blow the whole lot away and start from scratch? If so, should I reuse the current "servers" and do an ESXi or XenServer install with a new DC and file server? (Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 Clients, Full Fat PCs etc)

    Should I do away with Exchange altogether and look at going for Office 365 for Education (Free).

    Unfortunately, I know nothing about the current VoIP system, or had any experience with VoIP at all. If we reconfigure the switches, I'm sure I'll lose the VoIP system altogether, so, who can I turn to for help on implementing a cheap and new system.

    Seeing as it is a charity funded school, budgets again will be extremely tight, but I will be able to push for some funding once I have a robust plan in place. I already have a limited fund for getting some PCs in, but I want to scope out the bigger picture before any moneys are spent. So, any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    dhicks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Knightsbridge
    Posts
    5,622
    Thank Post
    1,240
    Thanked 777 Times in 674 Posts
    Rep Power
    235
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoom7000 View Post
    Also, the Exchange server is a mess. Sent emails are either delayed by 6 - 24 hours or go missing altogether and many, many emails are not received at all.
    It sounds as though your Exchange server might have been spam blacklisted. Make sure your DNS settings are properly configured, reverse DNS and SPF records in particular.

    The network architecture isn't too bad but it is a 10/100 backbone, which I will obviously look at upgrading to gigabit.
    We're about to replace all our switches, and might be able to donate our old ones - unmanged 10/100 to the desktop, but they do have gigabit links. You can probably find some better ones for free, though.

    They also have a bespoke VoIP system for the phones
    By "bespoke" do you mean a free, open source Asterisk install? If it works it's probably worth sticking with it, although if you want a supported system based on Asterisk we're about to install an IQ PBX - way cheaper than an off-the-shelf phone system, and you could probably reuse your current VoIP handsets.

    Should I blow the whole lot away and start from scratch? If so, should I reuse the current "servers" and do an ESXi or XenServer install with a new DC and file server? (Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 Clients, Full Fat PCs etc)
    I'd go for a Samba Domain Controller - once set up you can configure Active Directory through Windows-based tools on a workstation the normal way, it just saves you money on licenses.

  3. #3
    p858snake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Queensland
    Posts
    1,490
    Thank Post
    37
    Thanked 175 Times in 151 Posts
    Blog Entries
    2
    Rep Power
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoom7000 View Post
    I'll be brutally honest, I hate thin clients. Mainly for the fact that I don't know the architecture too well, but for the fact that in this case it just doesn't work. YouTube is the main complaint from the teachers, it is completely unwatchable. The display stutters similar to a PC without the correct graphics drivers installed. (i.e. Redrawing the entire display with every frame.)
    Or you could learn about them and set them up properly.

    They also have a bespoke VoIP system for the phones and a bespoke MIS (Schools Pro? I think - Schools Pro - Home)
    Bespoke VOIP? I highly doubt they have a custom made VOIP solution. Do you mean they run a "whitebox" solution (eg: asterisk) not created by the major brands?

    Should I blow the whole lot away and start from scratch? If so, should I reuse the current "servers" and do an ESXi or XenServer install with a new DC and file server? (Windows Server 2012, Windows 7 Clients, Full Fat PCs etc)
    And just get rid of the thin clients that they paid good money for?

    Unfortunately, I know nothing about the current VoIP system, or had any experience with VoIP at all. If we reconfigure the switches, I'm sure I'll lose the VoIP system altogether, so, who can I turn to for help on implementing a cheap and new system.
    Why do you want a new system? o.0 Look at the switch configure before touching them...

  4. #4


    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    8,202
    Thank Post
    442
    Thanked 1,032 Times in 812 Posts
    Rep Power
    339
    Theres no reason why thin clients shouldn't work for 99% of things. No issues whatsoever with watching video here.
    Sounds like the setup is borked.

  5. #5
    eean's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Kuala Lumpur
    Posts
    559
    Thank Post
    65
    Thanked 52 Times in 37 Posts
    Rep Power
    29
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoom7000 View Post
    Also, the Exchange server is a mess. Sent emails are either delayed by 6 - 24 hours or go missing altogether and many, many emails are not received at all.
    Well, there's an easy one to fix. Change to Google Apps for Education, or Office 365 - both have their own pros and cons, although my personal preference is for Google - and that will sort out your email problems and give you a spare server for something useful. Plenty of threads on here will help you decide which is best for your needs and how to set up.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Newcastle Upon Tyne
    Posts
    452
    Thank Post
    147
    Thanked 66 Times in 57 Posts
    Rep Power
    43
    First of all is the person who set this up orignally still there? Because they might be able to give you information on how things work. Second I would either contact ncomputing or a company who supports ncomputing and get there advice on why youtube is not working on there systems correctly. This will give you somehting to work on, it may just be the backbone is not fast enough but they should be able to give you pointers. For me the nest thing is the server 2003, you probably want to upgrade these as soon as possible, I am not sure if 2003 is supported still if it is, then surely not for much longer.

  7. #7
    gshaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    2,650
    Thank Post
    164
    Thanked 217 Times in 200 Posts
    Rep Power
    66
    Interesting with nComputing as either their demo suites at BETT were pure lies or you've inherited a config issue somewhere as they used to show 20-odd machines running HD YouTube videos with no loss of quality. If money is tight you probably won't be able to replace them with PCs anyway so maybe see if you can get any joy at improving the graphics performance (do the "hosts" have graphics cards or are they using onboard VGA etc)

    What setup have you got, is it the one with a PCI card and loads of cables coming out of the central PC (X-Series) or networked one (L-Series iirc), if it's the latter the 100Mb backbone might be what's killing it.

    Student accounts and AD sound like a big win to get started with, along with the client performance if you can get anywhere with that.
    Last edited by gshaw; 16th July 2013 at 12:17 PM.

  8. #8

    dhicks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Knightsbridge
    Posts
    5,622
    Thank Post
    1,240
    Thanked 777 Times in 674 Posts
    Rep Power
    235
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoom7000 View Post
    The display stutters similar to a PC without the correct graphics drivers installed.
    That could actually be what the problem is - I seem to remember NComputing's PCI-card based system operated as a bunch of VGA cards and keyboard / mouse inputs, so you do need to make sure the correct driver is installed. Do check your licensing, just in case - I think Microsoft actually went with NComputing's hardware for their multi-seat version of Windows, but I can't remember how that was licensed. I went for Server 2008 with thin client CALs for an NComputing install I did a few years ago - not actually all that expensive at school prices, but a few years on now there might be a better-priced option around.

  9. #9

    plexer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Norfolk
    Posts
    13,343
    Thank Post
    624
    Thanked 1,584 Times in 1,421 Posts
    Rep Power
    414
    The N computing stuff is a supported solution for Multipoint server and is licensed correctly by purchasing multipoint server and cals.

    You still have to install all the NComputing software.

    Ben

  10. Thanks to plexer from:

    dhicks (16th July 2013)

  11. #10
    robk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ashbourne
    Posts
    682
    Thank Post
    172
    Thanked 128 Times in 107 Posts
    Blog Entries
    1
    Rep Power
    47
    Office 365 (or google apps) would move one problem off site for you, Looking at gig backbone may sort the thin client issues, and would be recommended for a move to Thick clients anyway.

SHARE:
+ Post New Thread

Similar Threads

  1. New School, New Network
    By mattianuk in forum Learning Network Manager
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: 22nd August 2012, 02:37 PM
  2. How Would You Design A New School's Network
    By gopackgo in forum Wired Networks
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 18th March 2012, 11:40 PM
  3. Setting up a new network
    By wesleyw in forum How do you do....it?
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 12th March 2007, 09:57 AM
  4. Multimedia Science School v1 Network Install
    By Ric_ in forum Educational Software
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 13th June 2006, 10:39 AM

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •