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Mac Thread, Whole school to go Mac? in Technical; This post is similar, but not identical to, a recent thread. I work at a state secondary school (750 students, ...
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    Whole school to go Mac?

    This post is similar, but not identical to, a recent thread.

    I work at a state secondary school (750 students, 250 of whom board) and our principal is a Mac fan. He has an MacBook Pro and his PA an iMac. Since he arrived the music department have replaced their PCs with Macs and they have just ordered 20 copies of Parallels so that the students can still get at PC-specific stuff when in there.

    Now he (the principal) is talking about turning the whole school Mac (and, as he is just about to go to the Hong Kong Mac show, I suspect his enthusiasm will grow rather then wane).

    Despite not knowing Macs I'm no malophobe. In fact my experience configuring the iMac and putting Parallels on it has impressed me. But.... We have 250 or so Pcs and laptops, and (from Easter) 11 blade servers. It sounds as if we're talking an awful lot of money to convert.

    What (apart, of course, from financial) are the aguments pro and con? Most students probably use little more than Office. We do teach computing in the sixth form and things like Dreamweaver, Fireworks and scripting are covered. All, are fine, of course, on Mac (aren't they?).

    We have SIMS, used by all teachers as well as most admin staff. There is the odd thing that Macs may not hack such as the software and hardware in our Multimedia suite (used by Languages). I bet there are other things I haven't thought of.

    Good move? Seriously bad move? Comments, please.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Surely just because he is a mac fan shouldn't give him carte blanche to just change everything, will the governors etc... allow this.

    If there is a business plan as to why it makes sense then fine but not just becuase he likes macs?

    Ben

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Sims dont run on Mac. You can have a terminal server with sims on or use Parallels with Sims. what position do you hold in the school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by birchanger View Post
    Despite not knowing Macs I'm no malophobe. In fact my experience configuring the iMac and putting Parallels on it has impressed me. But.... We have 250 or so Pcs and laptops, and (from Easter) 11 blade servers. It sounds as if we're talking an awful lot of money to convert.
    I'd've thought you'd probably need the change the servers over as well if you want to go over to a Mac network, but I'm not absolutely sure.

    What (apart, of course, from financial) are the aguments pro and con? Most students probably use little more than Office. We do teach computing in the sixth form and things like Dreamweaver, Fireworks and scripting are covered. All, are fine, of course, on Mac (aren't they?).
    As far as I'm aware, these all have equivalents under Mac. However, you may need to change your licenses which would be another financial argument.

    We have SIMS, used by all teachers as well as most admin staff. There is the odd thing that Macs may not hack such as the software and hardware in our Multimedia suite (used by Languages). I bet there are other things I haven't thought of.
    The SIMS client won't run on a Mac, simple as that. You'll either need to keep some PCs, dual-boot the Macs, or have something like boot camp. Alternatively I suppose you could look into SLG. I suspect the same applies to a lot of general educational software though.

    Strikes me as a bad move. Bringing in more Macs is one thing, adding a few more IT suites populated with Macs sounds fine to me. Replacing your entire infrastructure might be unnecessarily drastic, particularly with their recent price hikes and the current recession.

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    birchanger (31st March 2009)

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    tomscaper's Avatar
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    If he is serious about replacing the whole infrastructure then you and anyone they expect to support this need to be properly trained to support the kit. When you took the post surely it would of said something regarding the use of group policy, windows server 2003 and all that kind of things, then if he expect the support he needs to know that your skills need updating. Then find a hugely expensive course that is miles away and where you need to stay over night costing them a fortune.

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    On the up side, you would surely be able to blag Apple certification (as mentioned, you were employed for your Windows skills) and it would be a lot easier to manage all Macs than Mac and AD which you have at the moment.

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    Hmm, already some thoughtful and useful posts.

    As to whether the principal has done a business case and so on, I very much doubt it. It sems to be emotionally driven. I really don't know how he'd go about selling it to the governors.

    I realised that SIMS wouldn't run - but I think it runs OK under Parallels. If it didn't I imagine the principal's PA would have said something by now.

    My role? A techie, between careers (and joining the dark side in the classroom from September). I have no formal say whatever but do have the ear of the IT director (in fact he's asked me to marshall the arguments).

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    What or how exactly will the school benefit from moving completely to an Apple network? You'll also need to purchase Mac versions of the software you use.

    It sounds to me someone with big ideas, but little consideration for the whole picture. I would make your position clear that you'd require training and time to develop and lock down the network. It really is a lot to ask. I think a more staggered approach would be more logical.

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    You'll need to think about running some mac servers to get the best out of your network, client-wise you can always dual-boot to XP if you need Windows-based applications.
    They'll just have to foot the bill when it comes to training, new servers, replacing all your clients, software licenses etc.
    just put down on a spreadsheet all you have, all you need to replace and what it's going to cost.

    then start making a case one way or the other!

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    why would you have to spend money converting your servers, or ditching your servers. It sounds like it's merely a like for like replacement....replacing PC's with Mac hardware and dual booting or running windows in a VM. Doesn't sound like your expected to replace your windows apps with osx equivalents.

    You could do with getting an xserve or two for image management, or even directory management if you go the whole AD-OD route. But that hardly involves ripping out your blade servers, it's a complimentary upgrade.

    All the but, but but....protests sound a bit ridiculous, would thee protest as much if the suggestion was to replace all ageing PC's with new PC's ?? It's perfectly possible to replace PC's with Macs running bootcamp or if your brave, fusion. And if the budget is there why the hell not, so long as you insist on the relevant trainign and additional server hardware requirements.

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    It does sound a lot like your principal has seized on an idea and gone "hey, let's do this!" (in an ideal world, of course, he would realise that he is not technical and would have employed you because he trusts you to make this kind of decision, but sadly it's rare).

    Perhaps you should start doing a basic cost analysis with your director - remember to look at hardware, servers, warranty extensions etc, training in administration for you, training for all your users, cost of your time to install and configure it all, and anything else you can think of.

    Get together with the principal and find out from him what expectations he has from all this (will it be faster? will it reduce administration overhead? etc) and see if it can be achieved with your existing infrastructure, and compare the costs.

    (If he says any of the following: "because it will be better", "because it's cool", "because a rep told me we should", then you should give him your notice right there )

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    Just been given an update: the justification is the perceived longevity of Macs. He believes that PCs need to be replaced every two years or so, but Macs go on much longer.

    Now there's me thinking the reason machines became obsolescent was due to technology improvements. Now it seems it's down to the software architecture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by birchanger View Post
    As to whether the principal has done a business case and so on, I very much doubt it. It sems to be emotionally driven.
    Yikes, better hope he doesn't take up any other crazy religions otherwise you'll end up having to teach ritual animal sacrifice as a course as well. Unless the existing infrastructure is needing to be replaced anyway it is simply iresponcible to rebuy everything in a Mac environment just because of one narcisits attachment to a particular brand.

    If it is rolled out on a replacement basis when new hardware is due then this would be at least a little more fiscally responcible otherwise it is just a horrendous waste of money that should be spent on education rather than designer toys with an additional price premium.

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    Quote Originally Posted by birchanger View Post
    Just been given an update: the justification is the perceived longevity of Macs. He believes that PCs need to be replaced every two years or so, but Macs go on much longer.
    Not true: I generally run a 5-year turnover, but I've had machines in place for six before now. I built my box at home on a modest budget six years ago, and it's still tanking away. The difference is probably that I look after it, wheras his experience of PCs has probably been the usual: throw all this software on it, use it for two years, then realise it's getting sluggish and replace it.

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    <offtopic>

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    If it is rolled out on a replacement basis when new hardware is due then this would be at least a little more fiscally responcible
    Ha, I read this as "If he is rolled out..."

    </offtopic>

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