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How do you do....it? Thread, Professional Advice Service? in Technical; Hi folks, (Hoping this is the right forum, as I couldn't spot a general chat forum) I'm after some advice... ...
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    Gongalong's Avatar
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    Question Professional Advice Service?

    Hi folks,

    (Hoping this is the right forum, as I couldn't spot a general chat forum)

    I'm after some advice...

    I suspect I'm not in a unique position. I'm a relatively new IT Manager within a government school, but my skills are more than a bit rusty and I've inherited a fairly complex setup (Hyper-V, Ranger etc.). I've worked in IT for most of my professional life (15+ years), and even studied for an MCSA in 2005 (but stupidly didn't take the exams *slapped wrist*), but mostly I've not worked in the Windows server administration field. The last few years I've worked in management, hence my technical skills are not as good as they have been. But what-with-the-economy-'n-all-that I am where I am...

    Anyway, enough of the sob story. Because I have the IT background at least I'm fairly quick to pick things up, and have picked up Hyper-V, Ranger etc. from scratch over the last couple of months. This forum has also been really helpful in trying to resolve things, and seems to be one of the better ones out there (kudos to the person who pointed me to it, and those who have answered).

    What I would like though is some sort of professional IT advice service, if that makes sense. Not quite a full blown consultancy support contract (there's no way "we" could afford it!), but something a step up from asking questions on a forum i.e. guaranteed response, experts in their field etc. Like most if not all professions it's a case of knowledge and therefore skill, but IT can be such a broad field and getting that knowledge in a timely fashion can be the problem. The immediate thing that springs to mind is Experts Exchange, although I've not used it but it's certainly within budget.

    Are there other alternatives to Experts Exchange that I'm not aware of and/or further thoughts on the whole topic?

    TIA

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    Torrevez's Avatar
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    Have you tried speaking to your local authority. They usually provide that kind of service.

  3. Thanks to Torrevez from:

    Gongalong (2nd December 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gongalong View Post
    The immediate thing that springs to mind is Experts Exchange, although I've not used it but it's certainly within budget.

    Are there other alternatives to Experts Exchange that I'm not aware of and/or further thoughts on the whole topic?
    Hi @Gongalong

    although I don't know of a specific service you can use, I will say this: avoid Experts Exchange. For one thing, the advice given there is very hit and miss, but also if you were to search Google, find an Experts Exchange article then scroll to the bottom of the page, you would see the "premium only" posts anyway! [or at least you could last time I looked]

    I will say that as online forums go, EduGeek is the best I know of for IT advice and the vast majority here are in a school environment so can help out massively with school specific issues and responses have always been pretty quick for me... I suggest getting involved in discussions, helping out where you can too and become a part of the community here, you'll soon learn who the best people for specific questions are

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    Gongalong (2nd December 2011)

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    Hi @Gongalong

    I would suggest 2 things. Firstly, think about whether you can fairly appraise the situation about what are the gaps in the knowledge / expertise / capacity at the school and if not, consider asking someone else to do so. This could be the LA, if you are an Academy then speak to your sponsor (or other schools in the group), another local school, respected members on EG (a pre-arranged informal visit has done wonders for some folk) or an external party ... them problem is getting an external party who is not going to look at the gaps as something they can blow out of proportion to get business.

    Second, once you have an idea about what you need covering then decide whether you want to do it piecemeal (different specialist firms to look after different areas) or have a one-stop shop.

    Don't forget little things like Technet, making sure you have service contracts for existing equipment and solutions (make sure support is on-site, etc), by extra support from firms who did the initial installation of any solutions you may have. Over the next 2-3 years, as you fully get back into the swing of things, you can drop some of these and do more work in-house and you have a bit of a cost saving. You might opt not to do this as you have more time to work on other areas and it is more cost effective to allow youth spend time on working with departments and managing IT Strategy than doing individual repairs of machines from spare parts. If you can manage the IT and infrastructure better at the school (e.g. print management, storage, power requirements, etc) then these can also be cost savings which allow you to cover the costs of external partners / sub-contractors.

    HTH and hope it goes well. I look forward to hearing your journey at the school.

  7. Thanks to GrumbleDook from:

    Gongalong (5th December 2011)

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    Gongalong's Avatar
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    Sorry folks, I thought I had replied to this but I'm not seeing what I wrote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torrevez View Post
    Have you tried speaking to your local authority. They usually provide that kind of service.
    The LA were trying to sell a service where they took over IT completely, including an LA run Active Directory. The school decided to have their own employed Network Manager though i.e. me.

    They do support the items we buy in though e.g. Internet connection, SIMS. The former is arguably more trouble than it's worth though, due to downtime and firewall problems.

    I'll ask the question though.

    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    Hi @Gongalong

    although I don't know of a specific service you can use, I will say this: avoid Experts Exchange. For one thing, the advice given there is very hit and miss, but also if you were to search Google, find an Experts Exchange article then scroll to the bottom of the page, you would see the "premium only" posts anyway! [or at least you could last time I looked]
    Ah, well hit and miss is no good. I need at least a good service.

    A friend mentioned the EE/Google "hack", but I've not been able to get it to work. I do not see the complete preview of the answer, unless I'm missing something. Mostly though I need to be able to ask the question and get the response, rather than finding previously asked questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    I will say that as online forums go, EduGeek is the best I know of for IT advice and the vast majority here are in a school environment so can help out massively with school specific issues and responses have always been pretty quick for me... I suggest getting involved in discussions, helping out where you can too and become a part of the community here, you'll soon learn who the best people for specific questions are
    Edugeek has certainly been helpful so far, although I've still relatively new. I'll stick with it :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Hi @Gongalong

    I would suggest 2 things. Firstly, think about whether you can fairly appraise the situation about what are the gaps in the knowledge / expertise / capacity at the school and if not, consider asking someone else to do so. This could be the LA, if you are an Academy then speak to your sponsor (or other schools in the group), another local school, respected members on EG (a pre-arranged informal visit has done wonders for some folk) or an external party ... them problem is getting an external party who is not going to look at the gaps as something they can blow out of proportion to get business.

    Second, once you have an idea about what you need covering then decide whether you want to do it piecemeal (different specialist firms to look after different areas) or have a one-stop shop.

    Don't forget little things like Technet, making sure you have service contracts for existing equipment and solutions (make sure support is on-site, etc), by extra support from firms who did the initial installation of any solutions you may have. Over the next 2-3 years, as you fully get back into the swing of things, you can drop some of these and do more work in-house and you have a bit of a cost saving. You might opt not to do this as you have more time to work on other areas and it is more cost effective to allow youth spend time on working with departments and managing IT Strategy than doing individual repairs of machines from spare parts. If you can manage the IT and infrastructure better at the school (e.g. print management, storage, power requirements, etc) then these can also be cost savings which allow you to cover the costs of external partners / sub-contractors.

    HTH and hope it goes well. I look forward to hearing your journey at the school.
    Thanks for the detailed answer. Some of these I am already trying e.g. specific contracts to cover items that are way beyond my expertse. It's always a difficult balancing act between having too much "IT insurance" and too little. I did try and contact another Network Manager in the LA that runs a mailing list of all the IT/Network Managers in the LA, but had no response.

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    somabc's Avatar
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    Server Fault is a very good alternative to Experts Exchange.

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    Gongalong (5th December 2011), mac_shinobi (14th December 2011)

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    Really depends on what products/technology/Vendor products you are using?
    Which ones are you're priority?
    Also, there are a number of forums and pay as you go services. However, this forum is quite good. If you have any Exchange related queries, you can ping me.

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    Gongalong (9th December 2011)

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    What part of the country are you in @Gongalong ?

    May be there's an edugeek local to you who'd be willing to have his/her brain picked in exchange for a pint occasionally!

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    Gongalong (9th December 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sukh View Post
    Really depends on what products/technology/Vendor products you are using?
    Which ones are you're priority?
    Also, there are a number of forums and pay as you go services. However, this forum is quite good. If you have any Exchange related queries, you can ping me.
    We use Hyper-V with a mix of 2003/2008 servers, and Ranger.

    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    What part of the country are you in @Gongalong ?

    May be there's an edugeek local to you who'd be willing to have his/her brain picked in exchange for a pint occasionally!
    On the Hants/Surrey/Berks border.

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    I use experts exchange often best money i ever spent, not just for the quick answers but also for the huge amount of posts on there. Only my opinion

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    Experts exchange = rip off from here....I once posted a question on here and on there (roughly the same time). The answer was posted here, then a word for word copy was posted on experts exchange not half an hour later!

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    With some advice services you are not always paying for the expert but for people with the ability to find out answers. EE sometimes suffers from this, especially in a comparison with EG. Since EduGeek ranks very highly on searches it is only natural that the finders of information pick it up from here. The downside is that it is not attributed to the source (I have previously done that on EE and been told off by regulars as it discourages people from using EE). I don't think it is even worth going into the copyright / IPR issues that surround that ...

    This is one of several reasons why I stopped posting on EE as I like to tell others how they can find information themselves ...

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    I love Experts Exchange... especially since reading it is free.

    Think SCROLL (a lot)

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    You could try hitting up a campus book store and picking up some college texts on Hyper-V and 2008 R2 Server.

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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    Server Fault is a very good alternative to Experts Exchange.
    Serverfault is to EE what paracetamol is to trepanning

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