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MIS Systems Thread, Government Cloud MIS list in Technical; In case anyone is wondering, ScholarPack didn't enter the G Cloud 5 applications due to migrating a considerable number of ...
  1. #46
    scholarpack's Avatar
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    In case anyone is wondering, ScholarPack didn't enter the G Cloud 5 applications due to migrating a considerable number of new customers at that time. We didn't want any distractions. We'll be going for the next round of applications when they open in Autumn this year.

    In theory G Cloud is a great idea, but as several posters have stated in this thread, there needs to be more clarity around what sort of applications are allowed on the Cloudstore. I don't think I'd be saying anything controversial if I said a hosted windows based application is not how most customers envisage 'cloud' software working. For example, one could host LotusNotes from 1999 via a VPN and sell access to customers, but I'm pretty sure having that as a product on the 'Cloudstore' would raise some eyebrows.

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post
    if I said a hosted windows based application is not how most customers envisage 'cloud' software working
    I tried to explain this to my missus, her reply was "so its more expensive" after which she walked off when I started to reply, "well, maybe, it d..e..p..."

    She got:
    - unmanaged, you do the work, ring support if it breaks
    - managed, someone else does the work, you just use it
    - cloud, same as managed, but the noise server isn't nearby

    Her response will pretty much the same as most primary schools based on previous experience - with App-V, they get an icon for SIMS .net, they don't know that it's running in the cloud, all they know is it works. Assuming that's how they are doing it. If they're having to have a fat client then logging on to another fat client desktop to run it, well that's another story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    I tried to explain this to my missus, her reply was "so its more expensive" after which she walked off when I started to reply, "well, maybe, it d..e..p..."

    She got:
    - unmanaged, you do the work, ring support if it breaks
    - managed, someone else does the work, you just use it
    - cloud, same as managed, but the noise server isn't nearby

    Her response will pretty much the same as most primary schools based on previous experience - with App-V, they get an icon for SIMS .net, they don't know that it's running in the cloud, all they know is it works. Assuming that's how they are doing it. If they're having to have a fat client then logging on to another fat client desktop to run it, well that's another story.
    Hi @matt40k,

    I fully understand where you coming from. But there are number of stake holders in context of school MIS from tax-payers, learner, parents, LA. School management, School IT manager and of course the user.

    You need to repeat your survey/observations on impact of cloud for each stake holder and include cost, agility, ease of management, green environment etc. etc

  4. #49

    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bromcom-PR View Post
    cost, agility, ease of management, green environment etc. etc
    Cost should be easy - if everyone buys via the G-Cloud the cost is just a spreadsheet away, assuming the "50 fold memory saving" translate into cheaper.

    Ease of management - not quite sure this would apply.

    Agility - in terms of development? Well I suppose 1,200 outstanding user CRs is rather a lot, but not sure how to compare that to other systems. Suppose you could compare it to government requirements, but I've never heard Capita failing to meet them - well apart from the PRU census (I think?), that was a bit late and required a bit of hacking when it first came out. Again, not sure how the other suppliers have done - I know the PRU census in general was a bit of fudge when it first happened from what I can remember.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post

    In theory G Cloud is a great idea, but as several posters have stated in this thread, there needs to be more clarity around what sort of applications are allowed on the Cloudstore. I don't think I'd be saying anything controversial if I said a hosted windows based application is not how most customers envisage 'cloud' software working. For example, one could host LotusNotes from 1999 via a VPN and sell access to customers, but I'm pretty sure having that as a product on the 'Cloudstore' would raise some eyebrows.
    Hi @scholarpack,

    I don't know why you need to go as back as 1999 and giving an example saying "one could host LotusNotes from 1999 via a VPN and sell access to customers but I'm pretty sure having that as a product on the 'Cloudstore' would raise some eyebrows.". You are absolutely right and applies equally MS Word 2013 if offered via a VPN and sell access to customers. Both offerings would fail NIST definition.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    The problem here is that you are both talking about a solution specific purchase rather than a requirement driven purchase.

    The drive to upgrade to the latest version of products because it add 43 1/2 new features ... but removes 23 others ... is not a reason to say the new product is better, especially when it meets less of the requirements requested.

    If using LotusNotes from 1999 actually meets the customer's requirements (presuming that patches for security, etc were all available to bring it up to spec on that side) what would be the problem?

    Please note that this is not just specific to this thread but it would be interesting to see the response of folk on this in general.

  7. 2 Thanks to GrumbleDook:

    GREED (23rd July 2014), TheScarfedOne (24th July 2014)

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    scholarpack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    If using LotusNotes from 1999 actually meets the customer's requirements (presuming that patches for security, etc were all available to bring it up to spec on that side) what would be the problem?
    No problem at all. But some might argue that it undermines the key message and advantage the government are trying to push with G Cloud.

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    I can see both sides of the argument. One one side you've got @GrumbleDook saying don't be pushed by new technology, if it doesn't help. Question why your doing it. IE don't replace all your new Windows PC with new Apple Mac just because they are "better". On the other hand you've got @scholarpack and @Bromcom-PR saying, don't do the same thing, just because that's the way you've always done it, if there is a better way of doing it, do it that way. It's like user account creation, you might have manually created user accounts in the past, but why wouldn't you use powershell to script it nowadays.

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  11. #54

    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    just because that's the way you've always done it, if there is a better way of doing it, do it that way.
    Just to throw my usual antagonistic views in here: 'Better' is so often a subjective term. Better for one school or customer might not be on the same scale as another, or not noticed by another, or detrimental to another. Progress on consumer products replacing existing ones should be driven by customer demand (I'm not suggesting anyone in this thread or outside is not customer responsive). Pioneering is something very different and risk/reward is always tipping. But making a change for change sake or 'because that is what x department or government wants to see' or 'this is what the NHS does' are not valid reasons.

    The exception comes when 'the government TELLS you this is what is going to happen'... DX anyone? :-D

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    The problem here is that you are both talking about a solution specific purchase rather than a requirement driven purchase.

    The drive to upgrade to the latest version of products because it add 43 1/2 new features ... but removes 23 others ... is not a reason to say the new product is better, especially when it meets less of the requirements requested.

    If using LotusNotes from 1999 actually meets the customer's requirements (presuming that patches for security, etc were all available to bring it up to spec on that side) what would be the problem?

    Please note that this is not just specific to this thread but it would be interesting to see the response of folk on this in general.

    I couldn't agree more with @GrumbleDook. However I don know why anyone should assume that "... latest version of products ... add 43 1/2 new features ... but removes 23 others".

    Just be crystal clear: All arguments put forward by Bromcom hereto is very much on a key assumption that product features and the functionality needed by the user is on 'like with like'. Bromcom and others suppliers gripe is that local authorities/schools do not even come out to the market (via tenders/soft market research) - hence how will they know if new generation products (cloud) can deliver the features and functionality on 'like with like' basis or even more.

    The strange thing is that users of new generation MIS in fact are delighted with new features that for 10s of years have been denied. One of the best example is from an exam manager expressing her delight stating that besides meeting her previous MIS features there are new ones and many that stands out - as an example she says:

    "[With browser MIS software] you can open up several windows and work in different modules ... so while I am running a long report say in Exam module, I can be doing something else in MIS - say in curriculum module and also look at exam module easily for cross referencing. When we were printing in [our previous generation/legacy thick client MIS] I couldn't do anything else.".
    Exam Officer, Carterton School, in Oxfordshire.

    So all the 'true cloud' advantages expressed in this thread, should be assumed as 'extra' and not as a trade off against features or functionality.

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    @GrumbleDook, I think you are correct in the "if it ain't broke why fix it" arena, but this isn't about fixing things.
    I would not agree with a statement of "If it ain't broke why bother trying to improve it."
    Thankfully for us the IT sector rarely agree's with that statement either.
    Innovation and change are constantly driving us to improve our products but the products needs to continue to work.

    @GREED, you are right that change should be driven by Customer Demand. However in a lot of our scope our "customer" is in fact the DfE. So when they mandate a change, in order to stay competitive in the market, the change must be implemented. Luckily we have a "degree" of communication and say in those changes so can champion our "other" customers (you know the ones, smaller than the DfE scattered around the country, I believe they are called schools ) and ensure that what is added suits there wants as much as possible.

    As for examples of products being changed "specifically" to embrace the cloud structure, well you don't need to go back to 1999 for that.
    Microsoft has one of the "killer" consumer products for the production desktop in the form of the Office suite. Sure there are competitors, open source players and smaller market share holders but Office is arguably to biggest "go to" product in its type.
    With untold dollars investment over decades in their existing product, Microsoft totally revised their delivery model and embraced a distributed delivery system with Office 365. They rebuilt from the ground up with all-web based application running in the cloud.
    I believe they realised that (along with Google, Adobe and many others in the big leagues) that they needed to change in order to embrace the new ecosystem that comes with Cloud.
    To be able to reach more consumers, with a better suite of tools they chose true cloud over any other implementation.
    And they've gone even further with Office 2013, yes they still deliver locally based installation (or even LAN based managed systems) but the delivery of Office 2013 is embracing cloud concepts.

    The first thing you’ll see when you open Microsoft Office is a clean, new look. But the features you know and use are still there—along with some new ones that are huge time savers.
    The new Office also works with smartphones, tablets, and in the cloud, even on PCs that don’t have Office installed. So now you can always get to your important files, no matter where you are or what you’re using.

    Microsoft marketing

    and all of that without a single VPN in sight!

    Sorry if it comes over a tad "rambly".. but I'll close with a picture to save another 1000 words.


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  15. #57

    matt40k's Avatar
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    I total agree with your image John...

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCondon View Post
    @GREED, you are right that change should be driven by Customer Demand. However in a lot of our scope our "customer" is in fact the DfE.
    ...but to quote the GDS, the GOV.UK golden boys and girls who everyone is trying to be more like...


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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    Just to throw my usual antagonistic views in here: 'Better' is so often a subjective term. Better for one school or customer might not be on the same scale as another, or not noticed by another, or detrimental to another. Progress on consumer products replacing existing ones should be driven by customer demand (I'm not suggesting anyone in this thread or outside is not customer responsive). Pioneering is something very different and risk/reward is always tipping. But making a change for change sake or 'because that is what x department or government wants to see' or 'this is what the NHS does' are not valid reasons.
    On the question of 'better' is so often a subjective term, may be one can browse product entries on the #MISChallenge to check out at least a good number of products.

  17. #59

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCondon View Post
    @GrumbleDook, I think you are correct in the "if it ain't broke why fix it" arena, but this isn't about fixing things.
    I would not agree with a statement of "If it ain't broke why bother trying to improve it."
    Thankfully for us the IT sector rarely agree's with that statement either.
    Innovation and change are constantly driving us to improve our products but the products needs to continue to work.
    And this is part of the problem that exists now.

    People mistake change for something new as an improvement, purely because it is change. This is not just an issue with technology, but with many sectors ... Hey, we can even look at the DfE for some scary examples of this within policies!

    If a customer requirement is met by an existing product but that can be made more efficient and still meet the requirement then this is a good change.
    If a customer requirement is met by an existing product but a change to the requirement is met by a new or improved product, resulting in an improvement of what the company does, then this is a good change.
    If a customer requirement is met by an existing product but a change to the requirement is forced upon by a new or improved product, then this may not always by an improvement to the company.

    You get the same in schools and businesses ... change for change's sake.
    Or the cynic in me would say ... change for the shareholders' sake?

    Dump desktops for laptops
    Dump laptops for netbooks
    Dump everything for tablets

    Now folk have swapped tech ... erm ... what are the going to do with it?

  18. #60

    CESIL's Avatar
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    I work in a junior school in Hampshire and most of us have been using SIMS.net hosted by our LEA using a citrix client. We have probably been running like this for about 5 year maybe more.

    Since the switch I haven't had to worry about backups or applying updates at all...bliss! 😁

    Like a lot of primary schools we only have a few users and the teachers never touch it.

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