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MIS Systems Thread, Serco Facility and MS SQL server Express edition in Technical; I've just started at a school as Network Manager and one of the many projects to get stuck into is ...
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    Serco Facility and MS SQL server Express edition

    I've just started at a school as Network Manager and one of the many projects to get stuck into is an already-in-progress move from Phoenix Gold to Serco's Facility MIS. Serco recommend the standard edition of MS' SQL Server 2005, but i wondered if it would run on the free Express edition as SIMS (the MIS from my previous school) does quite happily.

    The response I got on asking the rep this question was a no and a link to a features comparison page- their technical people apparently reckon the Express editon is 'too limited for Facility when used in a secondary school'. Has anyone out there tried it? Call me cynical, but i'm wondering if i've got the easy answer, rather than the correct one!

    Cheers...

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Although Sims and CMIS probably will run on SQL 2005 Express, Standard edition contains many more features which may be required when performing certain tasks.

    Some LA's like Birmingham provide SQL Server 2005 at much cheaper prices than it would cost retail. Standard Edition from Birmingham is £128 and CALs £16 each.

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    maniac's Avatar
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    I think it might work, but you could run into some problems.

    Firstly, SQL Server 2005 Express can access only a single CPU and 1 GB of RAM, which might be a problem if you're running a lot of users on E-portal as that can be quite heavy on database queries.

    Also the maximum database size on SQL serever 2005 express is 4GB, which you could get to at some point in the future with Sercos product, our's has been running for 3 years now and our database is about 1.4GB now, and is increasing a lot faster in recent times as Serco add features to their products.

    Apart from those limitations, I don't think there's any reason it won't work, but personally I would recommend you get the full edition of SQL server if you can.

    Mike.
    Last edited by maniac; 28th May 2008 at 10:33 PM. Reason: Spelling!

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    I run SQL express for the test version of CMIS and have had not had any issues. Although there are never more than several people connected at once. You would need to check on limitations of SQL express if you had many concurrent connections on a live system.

    I did try and install to MySQL once, but I did not work. Neve got a proper answer form Serco, as to if/when they would add support this

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyx View Post
    I run SQL express for the test version of CMIS and have had not had any issues. Although there are never more than several people connected at once. You would need to check on limitations of SQL express if you had many concurrent connections on a live system.
    There is no connection limit on the SQL 2005 express edition but it does not support some of the advanced features like live database replication and RDA. It is limited to only one CPU though so as long as your site does not have heaps of concurrent connections and the software does not require any of the advanced features.

    It also does not include most of the management tools included in the full product so troubleshooting some problems may require a bit more work as the providers instructions are sure to use these tools. SQL Management Studio Express does add lots of management options so this may be sufficient.

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    Hmmm... Not sure i'm feeling brave enough to risk it, so I think i'll play it safe! As i'm new to the school I'm not sure how staff will react and don't want to be stuck with poor performance if they all jump on board straight away. Plus, the new server we've got coming to run it on is fairly decent spec; shame not to use all the cores...

    Thanks guys.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Just had another look and it seems it is liscenced per CPU so one CPU could be four cores if you have quad core cpus in your server.

    Still standard is probably the best call, I had a look at the feature matrix and SQL express only uses up to 1 gig of ram and has a 4gb database size. Standard uses up to 4 cpus and as much ram as you have, Enterprise has no limit on core usage or memory

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    Hi,

    I was the technical engineer at Serco who responded to your query through your implementation manager.
    Something else to bare in mind is the bulk of our testing, to know knowledge is performed on SQL 2005 SP2. If you had express and ran into an issue which appeared to be SQL related, and we couldn't replicate it, it's another difference at your site which could only be tested by purchasing the full version. So to avoid this scenario, it would be worth buying the standard edition. SQL will also use more than 1gb of RAM if your server is high enough spec'd (especially during times of high throughput such as assessment periods).

    Michael Sanderson
    Technical Engineer
    Serco Learning



    N.B: The content in the above post contains views which belong to myself and do not reflect those of my employer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheredenine View Post
    I've just started at a school as Network Manager and one of the many projects to get stuck into is an already-in-progress move from Phoenix Gold to Serco's Facility MIS. Serco recommend the standard edition of MS' SQL Server 2005, but i wondered if it would run on the free Express edition as SIMS (the MIS from my previous school) does quite happily.

    The response I got on asking the rep this question was a no and a link to a features comparison page- their technical people apparently reckon the Express editon is 'too limited for Facility when used in a secondary school'. Has anyone out there tried it? Call me cynical, but i'm wondering if i've got the easy answer, rather than the correct one!

    Cheers...
    We have Facility MIS running VERY happily on SQL Server 2000 - I find it very hard to believe that it now requires SQL Server 2005.....Unless something quite dramatic has developed within the product.....

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    The reason for it the upgrade is that it is going to be an unsupported product. I bet you not still running windows 98. This is the core business platform of the school is it needs to be supported!!!

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    Michael's Avatar
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    SQL 2000 is now out of mainstream support!

    Sims.NET for example also requires SQL 2005 since March '08 and later, so no longer works on SQL 2000.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholab View Post
    The reason for it the upgrade is that it is going to be an unsupported product. I bet you not still running windows 98. This is the core business platform of the school is it needs to be supported!!!
    I believe that sql 2000 is still widely used in industry. Yes mainstream support has ended but then so will XP's long before people stop using it.

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    Thanks for your reply. I think we'll go down the 'Standard edition' route as you suggest - i was hoping i could save a few quid with the free version, but it seems its not to be! Given the spec of the new server we have coming, it'd be a shame to have Facility limited because our database software can only address 1gb of memory...

    Quote Originally Posted by michael2k6 View Post
    Hi,

    I was the technical engineer at Serco who responded to your query through your implementation manager.
    Something else to bare in mind is the bulk of our testing, to know knowledge is performed on SQL 2005 SP2. If you had express and ran into an issue which appeared to be SQL related, and we couldn't replicate it, it's another difference at your site which could only be tested by purchasing the full version. So to avoid this scenario, it would be worth buying the standard edition. SQL will also use more than 1gb of RAM if your server is high enough spec'd (especially during times of high throughput such as assessment periods).

    Michael Sanderson
    Technical Engineer
    Serco Learning



    N.B: The content in the above post contains views which belong to myself and do not reflect those of my employer.

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    Per CPU licencing

    Birmingham's price for the CAL-less operation (Per CPU SQL Licenceing) is £750. We went for this because otherwise you have to buy a CAL for every e-Portal user! According to Link2ICT you have to have a SQL CAL for every user who will have write access to the database. So it worked out cheaper.

    Only issue was when we wanted to buy the new Server hardware in November HP were doing a free CPU offer on DL380's

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    I was given to understand that a CAL was required for any user that used Facility Admin, but only one CAL was required for ePortal as it was the webserver querying the database, and not the ePorter users. This made sense to me as the CAL should cover a 'user' (a person or software agent) accessing the data, what then happens to the data is outside the remit of the CAL...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis_Klar View Post
    Birmingham's price for the CAL-less operation (Per CPU SQL Licenceing) is £750. We went for this because otherwise you have to buy a CAL for every e-Portal user! According to Link2ICT you have to have a SQL CAL for every user who will have write access to the database. So it worked out cheaper.

    Only issue was when we wanted to buy the new Server hardware in November HP were doing a free CPU offer on DL380's

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