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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS - beginner advice in Technical; Hi There, First of all hello, i'm new here! I am starting as an ICT network manager at a 11-19 ...
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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    SIMS - beginner advice

    Hi There,

    First of all hello, i'm new here! I am starting as an ICT network manager at a 11-19 year old school and have been thrown in at the deep end with SIMS. I've not yet started and i'm trying to get as much background as possible and understanding, i've just signed up for the support part of the SIMS site but i'm not certain they'll activate as I don't yet have a school e-mail address.

    I am looking for a technical guide to SIMS or a WIKI for SIMS, anything to get me up to speed - i'm adept with computing, databases, reporting and can program, not too phased but it'd be great to do some evening reading before I start.

    I saw this post:

    SIMS training/reading [advice please]

    Nothing was posted, like information - I'd love to do training but this will not be something I can do until I actually start at the start of April :-)


    Great forum, will be hopefully contributing some useful content for you all too

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    mb2k01's Avatar
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    Not really what you asked, but the first thing I did when I became a Network Manager in charge of SIMS was...... To delegate it to the Assistant Network Manager! Nice little project for him to sink his teeth in to!

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Which LA are you from? They will probably run regularly training sessions if SIMS is the preferred flavour of MIS system in the county.

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    I've been told my LA do, but i've not started yet so it's not an option :-)

    I have no assistant, but a technician - I honestly don't think he could manage it, he has other tasks to look forward like replacing toner, executing my daily checks and adding users on AD when the new intake comes, well i might script it but I don't yet know how new users are received.

    Cheers for input, i'll keep googling.
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 12th March 2009 at 09:14 PM. Reason: i can't spell

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    Hello there,

    I work for an LA and we support SIMS for all schools throughout our county - we also get involved with more general ICT (Network and Technical support) for schools (mostly primaries) that choose to buy into our service.

    I'm sure from your OP that you probably know most of this but here goes and I'll try to help - I expect a couple of people will post where I've gone wrong.

    Firstly - Most Secondary schools have a dedicated SIMS Server (it might run a couple of other non intensive tasks such as the nearby printers or image server).

    Second - In secondary schools most of the SIMS work is divvied up around the school, and as a rule each person knows how to use the bits of SIMS they need to very well. However they don't go any further than that - which is usually fine.

    Third - If you can, then follow mbrahams advice. Get someone else to manage SIMS outright (ie they are the SIMS manager)- if you want it work properly it needs to be something the headteacher leads on - getting everyone involved, and requires commitment particularly from its biggest users (eg Office and SEN).



    ---------TECH----------------------------


    SIMS is composed of these main parts:

    • The Database Server (Currently an SQL 2005 DB).
    • The Document Server (Written totally in .net as I understand it) by default runs on port 8080 and in 99% of cases runs on the same server as the Database.
    • The Shared folder (Mapped Drive) - usually on the same server.
    • The Client Application.



    --------1--------


    To install SIMS on a workstation - you need

    • .net framework 2 + sp1 (minimum) installed.
    • The user needs to be able to see the sims mapped drive (usually this is S:\)
    • Then the following app' needs running with the correct options chosen from a settings menu (S:\SIMS\Setups\SIMSINST.exe).


    On connecting a new workstation you need to point it at the location of the simserver\instance and the databasename.

    OR

    you can point at a master ini file containing this information (Usually S:\Sims\connect.ini).


    --------2-------


    The SIMS Database has its own extensive security within the system manager module.

    (Log in and check out system manager investigating the Focus | User area)

    This area means that even if people can access the shared drive - unless they have a username and password for SIMS they can't access it. If they have a username and password - they can only access the bits they have been allowed to access.

    Permissions to the sims shared folder can also be controlled.

    ****V IMPORTANT - If people exist within the Personnel part of SIMS then they can be made users of the SIMS System easily - if they don't then a user can be added but it is better that people are on personnel wherever possible.****

    --------3-------


    Subscribing to Capita's Supportnet was a good move - there is so much information on there about using SIMS and FMS. It helps me solve roughly half of the problems I am asked to help with.

    Click on | Web Support | Solution Search.

    --------4-------


    FMS is installed in a very similar way to SIMS (Instead of SIMSInst.exe you use a file called FMSApplicationSetup.exe - soon to change to FMSInst.exe I believe)

    All FMS Workstations need:



    --------5-------

    The document Server is important because it deals with reports and any documents attached to students. Knowing where it is is equally important.

    By Default it gets installed at the SIMS Servers C:\ drive under "DocStorage" but most schools have modified this - to find exactly where your document server library is do the following:

    On your SIMS Server open a command prompt and go to the directory the document server lives in:

    Ususally - "correctdriveletter:\Program Files\SIMS\SIMS .net Document Server"

    From here run the command DMCONFIG

    This will tell you the protocol used to connect, the port the service runs on and the directory it resides in (the port must be available past your servers firewall).



    Your LA will usually do training but in our LA it is mostly for users rather that techs. Get someone from the LA to come out and do some one on one stuff with you so it meets your needs.

    SF
    Last edited by superfletch; 13th March 2009 at 11:55 AM. Reason: Spelling

  7. 8 Thanks to superfletch:

    Cache (7th April 2009), dwhyte85 (13th March 2009), Jobos (18th March 2009), MikeW (14th March 2009), nc- (13th March 2009), titch (13th March 2009), t_h (17th September 2009), vikpaw (14th March 2009)

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    Top man, good info!

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    Also even if you aren't supported by Capita directly (as we aren't) do still register on Here as it has a very useful Solution Search and forum.

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    You lot are slacking, why has no-one said "Run for the treeline and hope you make it"?

    There's also a simsperm.bat batch file which should sit in \\server\simssharename\setups\ which calls subinacl.exe to set the correct permissions on the workstation sims directories to ensure upgrades work smoothly.

    You can automate this by entering the same in a gpo - whichever is easier for you.

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    Cache (7th April 2009), titch (13th March 2009)

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    superfletch's Avatar
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    Most of this was written for Server 08 but is equally applicable to Server 03...


    Enabling workstations to run SIMS and FMS in a network environment...


    1. TCP/IP and Named Pipes
    2. Firewall access for SQL Server
    3. Firewall access for Document Server



    How to enable TCP/IP and Named Pipes for SQL2005
    Before amending please ensure that all users are out of SIMS .net

    On the Server
    1. Click Start | All Programs | Microsoft SQL Server 2005 | Configuration Tools | SQL Server Surface Area Configuration
    2. Click Surface Area Configuration for Services and Connections
    3. Under the Database Engine for the correct instance click Remote Connections
    4. Click Local and remote connections
    5. Click Using both TCP/IP and named pipes
    6. Click Apply
    7. Click OK to the message
    8. Click OK again
    9. Click the X in red box to close the window




    To apply the changes made above Stop and start the SQL service:
    1. Click on Start | Run
    2. In the browse box type services.msc
    3. Click on OK
    4. When the Services screen starts
    5. Click the Service relating to SQL server for SIMS “SQL Server (SIMS2005)”
    6. Click Stop – this will stop the service
    7. Click Start – this will start the service




    Firewall access for SQL Server:
    The firewall on Server needs opening to allow access to the SQL server
    Add the program:
    1. Open the Windows Firewall dialog box
    2. Click on the Exceptions tab
    3. Click Add Program.
    4. Click Browse and navigate to:-
    5. D:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1 \MSSQL\Binn\Sqlservr.exe
    6. Click OK




    Add the Port:

    1. Click Add Port.
    2. Add a TCP port
    3. Name is SIMS SQL Server
    4. Port number is 1433 (Unless it is set to a non default port).
    5. Click OK
    6. Click OK to close the Windows firewall program





    Firewall access for Document Server:
    To open a port for the DocStorage Server Windows firewall for TCP access
    1. In the Windows Firewall dialog box, click the Exceptions tab, and then click Add Port.
    2. In the Add a Port dialog box, in the Name text box, type DocStorage Server.
    3. In the Port number text box, type the port number 8080. (Default for DocServer)
    4. Verify that TCP is selected, and then click OK.




    Not required but useful info just in case.
    5. To open the port to expose the SQL Server Browser service, click Add Port, type SQL Server Browser in the Name text box, type 1434 in the Port Number text box, select UDP, and then click OK.
    Last edited by superfletch; 13th March 2009 at 11:58 AM.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhyte85 View Post
    have been thrown in at the deep end with SIMS. I've not yet started and i'm trying to get as much background as possible and understanding
    Probably worth noting that there's been several discussion on here regarding running SIMS via Terminal Services. If you're starting off somewhere new anyway you could maybe look at moving SIMS to TS, might make management easier (means you don't have to install the software on clients and means you data doesn't wander off on to laptops).

    --
    David Hicks

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    Butuz (13th March 2009), Cache (7th April 2009), dwhyte85 (13th March 2009), superfletch (13th March 2009)

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    Butuz's Avatar
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    Would agree with David - running SIMS on a terminal server means you only have to apply the SIMS update to that server alone, not a load of workstations!

    I've tested SIMS on terminal server here - and it works. Just have not had the budget to actually implement it.

    Butuz

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    Love the avatar Butuz.

    Alot to digest but all good stuff, still awaiting account activations however, I think they're apprehensive because of my e-mail address used.

    Even so, good information to get me going!

    With the suggestion of TS - they don't want to spend much money, i've got a chunky budget... however, I haven't done an inventory yet!

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    Firstly, to EduGeek.

    The above info is great.

    Is it not possible for you to ask the school to set up your email account early? Also, maybe go in and do a changeover with the current encumbent? You could use their access to Capita SupportNet it is a fantastic resource.

    Even if you can't access it now, there are lots of free to access resources. www.sims.co.uk will give you an overview aside from the very good technical account already provided here.

    Also, presumably as you'll be supporting it, it would be worth checking out the different modules available and how they work. Most everyday users (i mean the teachers not new techies!) still fall over at the basic hurdles because they are in a hurry to get stuff done so have a look at these quick guides from Capita:

    Quick reference sheets - Capita Children's Services

    I have produced a few basic videos that i use internally to show people the system but they don't really easily apply to other schools. Capita is soon to launch their own generic ones.

    Good luck and if you need anything just holler.

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    When I've seen our LEA setup a SIMS server they always change the config.nt file and add the command 'files=254'. Is this a legacy command from the old SIMS and not needed now?

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    Cheers for the information, useful guides! Not sure what the last post means but i'm sure i will soon enough!

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