I have to say that Swansea LEA seem to have got it sussed as a provider for the school. Back in the day we did everything ourselves (with an RM network) and I was a bit against re-joining the LEA provision due to the experiences the school had years ago.
Swansea LEA provide a broadband link upto the school switch (100Mbit). They provide us with an Enterprise AD structure which works - whilst allowing schools the control of their own OU. They also provide us with:
central Exchange solution
a central Moodle installation
centra Symantec Endpoint
central WSUS (although schools can install their own).
local dc - even though there are 4 central ones
connections to the Welsh VC network
central Sharepoint portal with SIMS Connect
central filtering (Netsweeper) - it has it's faults but is okay in general
VCN Remote access
Very approachable team of technical staff
They have taken the management out of it all - which is fine by me, yet have allowed the schools to keep playing.
The helpdesk is central and only a phone call away.
The faults are as follows:
not enough members in their team (not their fault - finances I guess)
not 24/7 - which in this day and age they have to be
slow provision for Welsh language (this is being addressed)
strict SLA - once it is on paper there's not much room for movement (but it is fair)
not allowing anything through their firewalls - no Skype provision, not allowed web servers
slow future development (due to small team and lack of finances)
These are small faults really and just issues I have. They are not major things. In all fairness the small team they have support 15 secondary schools and around 100 primaries, numerous libraries and other education units. They do a mighty fine job.
A poster mentioned here that their RBC do not talk to the schools - Swansea do talk to us and we appreciate it.
Hope this helps someone, but I'm just saying how it is here,
I think that the core service should be the connection. Everything else should be on an opt-in basis to give schools the flexibility to mange their services as they see fit, some schools can then go their own way and others can still opt into the RBC managed offering. I don't believe that one size fits all (but I do realise that opt-in services has a cost implication for the RBC).
Looking around, schools can get an email service from MS or Google for free, or course there are issues to consider but in these austere times we have a stark choice: pay our RBC for exchange or let MS provide it for free. I am very tempted by Live@Edu which in fact has more functionality and for a small fee integrates with your AD for auto account generation. If we were to move to this solution then I don't want to be paying for RBC mail as well.
I believe that this applies to other services as well, we should have the freedom to compare various offerings like for like without being hamstrung by already paying for a service as part of the whole package that we might be able to source elsewhere for more value for money.
Number one has to be reliability... really really important for the internet to be connected even if only on at 10mb.
A decent SLA that specifies clearly what the uptime is expected to be, how long to fix it, and what will happen if it all goes pear-shaped.
It would be nice if they had a failover, so if something drops off (which happened to us a couple of weeks ago) we can still get onto the internet somehow.
A caching server for WSUS, Mcafee, or whatever else we need access through to, we did get offered to join into out LA Mcafee license, but it was going to cost us more, and meant we wouldn't have an EPO server locally.
A decent helpdesk, with an online portion so that you can see what problems other schools have in the area related to the service, and join in on.
When you ask them to do something, the confidence to believe them...
A time server... small thing, but it has taken me ages to get all my servers working together.
Access to whatever statutary reporting servers, for census, plasc, etc, that we need, and support for accessing them.
The ability to have any ports/services open that we want, I can't get SSH access on port 23.
A pricelist for all the other services that they provide (in fact a list of any sort would be nice).
There are of course a few other services that are nice:
Web filtering - optional, so we don't end up with two, all the secondary schools I know have onsite filtering, we don't need any more.
VLE / MLE - optional
Upstream \ offsite backup for school data within the LA / RBC Core - optional and if we had a fast link to this (say 100mb or faster) then usable.