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How do you do....it? Thread, Web based remote access?? in Technical; We are currently investigating ways of giving all students and staff remote access to the network and their files. There's ...
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    Web based remote access??

    We are currently investigating ways of giving all students and staff remote access to the network and their files. There's a couple of ways we've thought of.

    1. Setting up a terminal server and allow this to be access from outside the school via a web based terminal or similar. Main problem with this is I think our LEA blocks the necessary ports, and also licensing for terminal services and purcahse of necessary hardware. Also we worried about security on this one.

    2. Setting up some form of web based access that will allow students and staff access to their home areas and public drives only. so they can download the files they want to their own local machine. This is our prefered method, but I'm at a loss as to what companies write this sort of software. A quick google hasn't turned up much.

    What do other schools do, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of different methods? Has anyone else got a different system setup that I've not though of?

    Many thanks,

    Mike.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    What's wrong with good old fashioned VPN?

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    We use RM CC3 so our remote access provision is RM's implementation of WebDAV.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    SSL VPN - SSLExplorer.

    Ben

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    we've got a small Citrix setup just for staff at the moment - it works pretty well and gives them a desktop as if they were sitting in school - its not a cheap option though.

    I recently went to a demo of Suns Global desktop - which is similar but cheaper - courtesy of The Cutter Project - I'm sure Andy Trevor from Cutter would be happy to talk to you or demo.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    Citrix here - although I also use FreeNX (for remote access to my desktop)
    True Citrix isn't cheap - but the cost is easily ofset by the savings made in hardware - We run P2 350's and our new clients cost just over £100, comare this to an ongoing thread where schools are binning P3 600's. Also the maintenance of (diskless) clients is less - to manage our entire site is just like looking after a suite of 9 computers - and Citrix management tools take care of most of that, so what you pay in one respect you save somewhere else.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd
    True Citrix isn't cheap - but the cost is easily ofset by the savings made in hardware - We run P2 350's and our new clients cost just over £100, comare this to an ongoing thread where schools are binning P3 600's.
    OK you can probably use the same PCs for twice as long as in fat client set up (maybe 8 years compared to 4) but don't forget Citrix, Windwos Server and the server hardware need to be upgrade roughtly every 3 years.

    The cost of doing this may cover the cost of buying fat client PCs.

    Also the maintenance of (diskless) clients is less
    No so sure. Disk failure isn't that common as to be major headache.
    Also diskless units are as tighltly integrated as laptops so if something goes pop you probably have to bin the whole thing if it's out of warranty.

    - to manage our entire site is just like looking after a suite of 9 computers - and Citrix management tools take care of most of that, so what you pay in one respect you save somewhere else.
    This is fine for a business things are relatively static and people tend to behave themselves. The problem for schools is the software they need to run is either very resource intensive or poorly written for mulptiple instances in a shared computer environement.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    @networkgeezer
    Machines we have are circa 1999 and still going strong. They do need maintenence - occasional PSU and fans replacing. Disks are replaced with flash rom so they boot to PXE (cheaper than PXE network card, but still 'diskless'). Upgrading the OS on all machines just means copying one folder and network booting. No Antivirus Cost, No XP cost, No ghosting cost etc.

    Citrix fixes a lot of the problems with poor apps with isolation environments, and has excellent deployment tools including msi creators etc.
    IMO biggest downside to citrix is graphic intensive apps and cost. Some sites its cost effective , others it isn't.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    We use http commander for all students and staff.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    Webfolders on IIS using WebDav is an option. I wrote a script for a client to web enable all the user folders.

    Windows Terminal Services is fine security wise, many people say that it is un-secure but never offer any evidence that this is the case. Also Citrix is overkill, you don't need Citrix to run WTS. VPN is another option but I find this not very "idiot" friendly.

    You should also consider investment in Terminal Services as an investment for the future and instead of replacing your fat clients with more fat clients, start installing thin clients which will save money, time and energy in the long term.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    Are there any guides etc about what is required to move over to thinclients for people who've never looked into them before?

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    For a simple setup you don't really need any guides. Windows Terminal Services (WTS) can be installed from the CD and all thin client devices are RDP compliant.

    You can also convert obsolete fat clients to thin clients using many free RDP live CD’s available on the web.

    If you are seriously looking at moving over to thin clients then a good place to start is with the server requirements this quide
    Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server Capacity and Scaling should help.

    Most installations I have done for clients have used at least a pair of clustered servers to provide load balancing and fault tolerance. This is where Citrix scores gains its browney points and offers some advantages over pure WTS.

    If you are really serious about thin clients and looking for an enterprise solution then hardware load balanced, terminal server farms are the way to go.

    With the server(s) the most important thing is RAM, you can never have enough of the stuff.

    Some attention may also required on the network infrastructure but this will depend on its current “state” and the number of thin clients you intend to deploy.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    Quote Originally Posted by djm968
    Webfolders on IIS using WebDav is an option. I wrote a script for a client to web enable all the user folders.

    Windows Terminal Services is fine security wise, many people say that it is un-secure but never offer any evidence that this is the case. Also Citrix is overkill, you don't need Citrix to run WTS. VPN is another option but I find this not very "idiot" friendly.
    We already have VPN as an option via our LEA, but it's far too complex to even considor for all staff, let alone students.

    All we want is them to have the ability to download/upload files to and from their home areas, and hopefully have read only access to the public drives as well. Whatever we use must uphold our folder security, and use Active Directory for authentication. It also needs to be very easy to use, as the aim is to let everyone in the school use this facility from year 7 all the way up to 6th form, plus all staff. It also must be reliable, and as secure a reasonably possible. We don't mind spending a reasonable sum to achieve this, but obviously the cheaper the better.

    I've been checking out some of the products that have been mentioned today, and have to say that SSLExplorer is looking promising. My network manager was very impressed when I demoed it to him earlier, and he was able to log in with his account details and access his home area, and the public drive from a web browser.

    Thanks for all the suggestions people,

    Mike.

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    Re: Web based remote access??

    Don't forget to check out http://edugeekconference.net/index.p...d=33&Itemid=59 - my slides, etc. from the last North conference

    I use HP thin clients (£130 for Linux based devices) which are solid state and sonsume only 20W of power.

    As it happens, I was working out some basic TCO today. Based on a 3 year replacement cycle of fat clients and terminal servers, it worked out about £800 cheaper to use Citrix over 5 years! This assumes that the clients all require the same amount of maintenance (which in reality they do not).

    The Citrix 'expense' also means that we will be able to offer remote access to desktops utilising our investment in Citrix out of regular school hours. This access can also be granted through a web browser



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