MIS Systems Thread, SIMS.net & Lesson Monitor over RDP/Terminal Services. in Technical; We currently run SIMS.net on our admin network, (which consists of 35-40 clients, and two servers (one for SIMS share) ...
20th September 2008, 07:50 PM #1
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SIMS.net & Lesson Monitor over RDP/Terminal Services.
We currently run SIMS.net on our admin network, (which consists of 35-40 clients, and two servers (one for SIMS share) and the other running SQL 2005.
On the curriculum network, we have restricted access to both staff and students. This works okay, and actually gives us very little trouble. However, we ran Lesson monitor around 2003, and it was rubbish. Updating of client machines was a pain, and it was always a problem setting up permissions using scripts etc. We then went to a SIMS bolt on called TEAM from education software ltd. This solved our problems in terms of deploying to clients, but now a colleague who basically 'micro managed' the system has left, we are now finding more and more issues with the syncing (sp?) of data between the two databases (SIMS and TEAM) concerning classes in timetables, and registration data not copying back properly to SIMS. There are also other issues regarding TEAM (which I am personally not happy with) but that is another story. We are then thinking of going back to SIMS, to solve our syncing issues and make the whole system simpler, but don't really want to spend ages looking at deploying SIMS (since I believe that it is currently not feasible).
We currently only have Fat clients around school for registration. However, we have some ageing machines which are a ball ache when it comes to logging on, so I had considered converting them to fatish thin clients using thinstation or a possible alternative.
With this in mind, I had also considered possibly running SIMS.net and more importantly lesson monitor over TS. I have thought this might cause havoc with our network (in terms of speed) since the TS would have around 120 teacher workstations all trying to access it at the same time (logging on at the start of each lesson), but I believe this could be solved using managed/team'ed NICs on the servers, and further improvements.
I am also not sure how we could use RDP using our fat clients, except providing a mstsc client shortcut on teachers desktop which automatically logs the user on with a standard user logon to the TS, and runs SIMS.net immediately at user logon to the TS. I think this might only be short term until SIMS web-parts come out (please please please!).
If anyone has any experience in doing this with SIMS, I would love to hear from you, and any problems that you had.
20th September 2008, 07:58 PM #2
Personally, I'd advise taking a look at application publishing, either with Citrix (although this is expensive for one app), 2X Application Server or Windows 2008 Server. Also, you should be looking at more than one TS server for 120 clients - the usual ratio would be a maximum of 40 or so to a server for this sort of app I would say. This would also introduce the need for load balancing, something which Citrix can do by itself, 2X produce their own load balancing software or 2k8 server has this functionality also.
For ease of setup, I'd simply go down the 2k3 + 2X App server + 2X Load balancer route, and have staff just open an icon on the desktop of a machine, which would not be any different to opening any other application.
20th September 2008, 08:24 PM #3
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Much appreciated. I have no experience of TS at all, so am unsure of any pitfalls we could fall into, especially concerning printing and profiles etc etc.
But at least it is a step in the right direction!
20th September 2008, 09:18 PM #4
We use SIMS over TS without any problem. I've placed a shortcut on the teachers desktop to connect them to the one of the terminal servers - i'm running 2, network load balanced.
As far as profiles go, I created a mandatory profile that all staff get, redirected a startmenu and desktop and locked the server down so that all it can run is SIMS and Office.
Printing is fine as long as all the printer drivers for your various printers are installed on the terminal servers, they RDP connection is set to redirect their network printers.
We went with becasue we have 120 teaching staff and come update day I didn't want the hassel of dealing with 120 machines and any problems which might occur. Having 2 terminal servers is logistically better.
Infact, the biggest complaint i've had from staff is that they have to log on too many time! Once to the machine, once to the server and then SIMS. Anybody got any suggestions to get around this?
Apart from that, so far so good!
Last edited by adamf; 20th September 2008 at 09:25 PM.
20th September 2008, 09:28 PM #5
You could use the Active Directory authentication stuff in SIMS to save logging in again?
20th September 2008, 09:45 PM #6
But they would still have to autheticate with the terminal server first wouldn't they?
20th September 2008, 09:58 PM #7
It depends how you are RDP'ing into the server - ie. you could have the rdp link contain the username and password, then they'd not need to. But then, really, you want to use some form of application publishing rather than full TS sessions.
20th September 2008, 10:12 PM #8
Yes but if you're saying they need to log in 3 times this would reduce it to 2.
20th September 2008, 10:15 PM #9
So presumablly, the log on to the TS, SIMS runs automatically (which is does at the moment anyway) and the credentials are passed through to SIMS in a Single Sign-on fashion? Or does do they physically have to enter the credentials again, except SIMS is checking against AD.
20th September 2008, 10:16 PM #10
It asks the question "do you wish to log on as xyz".
21st September 2008, 09:50 AM #11
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I understand you are looking towards a RDP solution but I know of a school that uses Sims.net on its curriculum and admin network through a trust relationship - you just have to make sure that simsperm.bat is excueted so that they have sufficient rights to the local computer.
You also might want to know that Lesson Monitor that you saw in 2003 has greatly changed evolved into Sims.net itself and is far better, quicker and easier to use than the single v6 of the 'separate'/'standalone' application that you may have seen.
21st September 2008, 10:02 AM #12
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I am aware of the improvements to lesson monitor and its integration into SIMS.net, but since we have 700 machines around school, deploying it via Group policy/AD was in my mind, since we do that with nearly all software now, but there doesnt seem to be any solid and reliable way of doing this at present. Hence the idea of using it over TS, thus making installation, and upgrade using SOLUS easy.
Also if we used TS on vmware, we could rollback to the previous working version of SIMS/lesson monitor easily (since SIMS has a terrible reputation of breaking a working and stable product at an upgrade....).
22nd September 2008, 12:15 PM #13
I've tested SIMS.net on my Terminal Server (RM CC3 network) and it actually worked fine. I did not do any performance testing however - but I suspect that as SIMS.net doesnt like to run very well on a workstation with less than 512MB ram - it would need at least one hefty terminal server with as much ram as possible (8-16GB) if you want to run 120 concurrent staff users.
Solus updates would be much simplified though - it is a good idea.
Other things to look at could be SIMS Learning Gateway to provide web based access to SIMS data.
22nd September 2008, 01:15 PM #14
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Excellent Performance with Bromcom's Winfolder Programme
Have you considered Bromcom as a solution to your electronic registration? I have used this at my last school for around 2 1/2 years and at my current school for around the same period. The client is called Winfolder and it is made available via a shortcut to a shared install on a server... so, 1 install on the server and a single shortcut for all users.
We have some old machines and they run it a treat! The application itself is only 700K and is on the server anyway. The data that it sends back and forward is in bytes or maybe kb's at worst and it works really quickly. All of our staff have access to students home contact details, timetables, photographs and SEN information at the touch of a button (All this information is passed to Bromcom automatically from our SIMS server) We have very few staff who have access to SIMS.net as its a fat client and takes an age to install and upgrade.
We also see some benefit in terms of reliability as if the SIMS server is down for any reason we still have a copy of data in Bromcom and can still look up TT's and Students Attendance. All Attendance is also exported overnight to SIMS.net and so we have a fairly fault tolerant setup as an added bonus.
Our staff really picked up the client quickly as it is very intiutive and straightforward to use and we are really looking forward to using the behaviour module that we have recently purchased which complements the registers perfectly.
All of the guys at Bromcom are helpful and we get our problems resolved much quicker than calling the capita helpdesk.
Just my thoughts but I hope they are useful.
22nd September 2008, 02:27 PM #15
If I understand correctly, on startup the SIMS client passes the Windows username to the server, which then automatically logs the user on if it finds that username on a list of some sort. At no point does SIMS authenticate against your LDAP/AD server, or even pretend to know what an LDAP/AD server is. I assume this is trickier to get past than simply changing the %USERNAME% environment variable...
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