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MIS Systems Thread, SLG... not impressed in Technical; We had a fairly poor demonstration from some Capita bods today, lady was very nice and trying to be helpful... ...
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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    SLG... not impressed

    We had a fairly poor demonstration from some Capita bods today, lady was very nice and trying to be helpful... some other chap was with her who was less than helpful and trying to cut me off at every question asked >_<

    I don't think SLT were too impressed either.

    Do any other options exist?

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    laputa01's Avatar
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    What was his name?

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    creese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhyte85 View Post
    We had a fairly poor demonstration from some Capita bods today, lady was very nice and trying to be helpful... some other chap was with her who was less than helpful and trying to cut me off at every question asked >_<

    I don't think SLT were too impressed either.

    Do any other options exist?
    That sounds unusual. We have been using SLG in several schools for a couple of years, give or take.

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    mortstar's Avatar
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    Depends what you need. If you 'just' want parental Read access to your SIMS data online then we have looked at and trialled Tasc Software's Insight and found it is exactly what we need. Support is top notch.

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    I didn't get names, I'm not that important :-) I honestly think the guy did not want to talk about the technical side of things.

    He tried to 'management' speak me when I asked about how the service will create accounts or could they link to existing AD links, I don't mind being told I need to find out or I can e-mail it... I do mind when I'm fobbed off with some tosh answer.

    My main concern is that we're having to buy into a fairly big system (WSS/Moss) for solely showing these webparts, a lot of cost is concerned and as we're upgrading our conn for this... it seems like a lot of cost for something that will get minimal use - if any [of course, I am aware of the pressure being put on us to provide one].

    My HT rightly asked about security of logins, they tried to say we could got he RSA route which is a good... but not practical with teachers, the concern is they will change passwords to something obvious even with a policy in place and a leet hacksaw manage to get into the systems and amend live data.

    My concerns are:

    • Reasonable server spec required for this, should it be ran off of same server [if we didn't go hosted route].
    • Security of teacher login area - .htaccess possible and I change this on a daily basis and post to teachers? No matter how many policies in place someone will have a guessable password... data needs to be truly secure.
    • Accessibility... we're not all as lucky to have 20/20 vision
    • Consideration for low-bandwidth... some people may be on dial up still, if they have a connection at all...
    • Cost! This will severely impact any buying I do this year!


    I can see the awesomeness of the idea but... this could be easily a weekly updated set of contents rather than a direct conn to Capita if hosted, or directly accessing DB, furthermore... CommandReporter could get enough information to suffice? I really doubt parents will be checking daily on progress
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 25th March 2010 at 05:15 PM.

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    Mortstar: Do you know cost involved?

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    We've had it for two years (hosted), not impressed with any of it. Not easy to use, slow, just logging in to the hosted system is too complicated for most people, password changes fail with generic unhelpful messages. Currently considering replacing with Citrix remote access to the actual SIMS client and Moodle add-ons for the parental gateway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by morganw View Post
    We've had it for two years (hosted), not impressed with any of it. Not easy to use, slow, just logging in to the hosted system is too complicated for most people, password changes fail with generic unhelpful messages. Currently considering replacing with Citrix remote access to the actual SIMS client and Moodle add-ons for the parental gateway.
    Moodle Add-Ons exist for this? As Studywiz have gone into administration [again?] we could do with a total overhaul and your suggestion works out better for us, TS/Citrix & Moodle sounds like a plan...

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    I thought I'd give some answers to your questions/issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by dwhyte85 View Post
    He tried to 'management' speak me when I asked about how the service will create accounts or could they link to existing AD links, I don't mind being told I need to find out or I can e-mail it... I do mind when I'm fobbed off with some tosh answer.
    As you say, the webparts need WSS to run. Therefore, the usernames are simply managed by the AD that the WSS server is set up with. SIMS provisions the AD - the idea being, if you host internally, you can set up the new users, then use the 'consolidation' tool to merge the new accounts with the existing AD accounts if desired.

    My main concern is that we're having to buy into a fairly big system (WSS/Moss) for solely showing these webparts, a lot of cost is concerned and as we're upgrading our conn for this... it seems like a lot of cost for something that will get minimal use - if any [of course, I am aware of the pressure being put on us to provide one].
    You may think it will get minimal use, but that is down to how the school wants to use it. When we launch our portal to parents, they'll be able to see pupil data, book parents evenings, see how their kids are doing with merits/rewards within school etc... We're making sure parents will *want* to use it.

    My HT rightly asked about security of logins, they tried to say we could got he RSA route which is a good... but not practical with teachers, the concern is they will change passwords to something obvious even with a policy in place and a leet hacksaw manage to get into the systems and amend live data.
    It is all down to how you set up sharepoint - it isn't a SIMS SLG related issue really.

    Reasonable server spec required for this, should it be ran off of same server [if we didn't go hosted route].
    Indeed, WSS will want a reasonable hosting server. Can't argue any point on that. However, you should never have it on the same server as your SIMS data, as that is a security risk. I'd say virtualise it.

    Security of teacher login area - .htaccess possible and I change this on a daily basis and post to teachers? No matter how many policies in place someone will have a guessable password... data needs to be truly secure.
    See above for sharepoint/AD comments

    Accessibility... we're not all as lucky to have 20/20 vision
    As it is sharepoint, it can be as accessible as you want, as you set up the theme for it.

    Consideration for low-bandwidth... some people may be on dial up still, if they have a connection at all...
    I'm afraid we're now in an age where this is a consideration which most don't take into consideration - you can't cater for everyone, all of the time, otherwise you end up with either reduced functionality or huge costs. However, I don't see how SLG and WSS would be high-bandwidth. The pages are mostly text...

    Cost! This will severely impact any buying I do this year!
    Again, can't argue against that - these things cost a fair packet. This is why our LEA used top-sliced funding to provison SLG as a county-wide service.

    I can see the awesomeness of the idea but... this could be easily a weekly updated set of contents rather than a direct conn to Capita if hosted, or directly accessing DB, furthermore... CommandReporter could get enough information to suffice? I really doubt parents will be checking daily on progress
    These systems are a tool for a job. If the school is just implementing it because they feel they have to, without a proper idea of *why* they are doing it, then it will fail. The school needs to come up with a plan as to what information they want parents to have access to, why, and then provision a solution to deal with that.

    Remember, seeing a poor implementation of a sharepoint site, with a poor theme etc... is not a reason to dislike the SLG product. The rest of the site is as important, if not more important than the actual data connecting web parts.

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    I think moreover the school want to pay for something that is 100% ready, the point being IF it was hosted would it be secure enough, kids can guess passwords, it needs an added layer of protection to protect kids from seeing/fiddling with live data.

    This is where both the school and I disagree with your point of 'It is all down to how you set up sharepoint - it isn't a SIMS SLG related issue really.' - if this is fully hosted the responsibility then falls with Capita... Flipside, we'd pay for a setup that costs a fair chunk... we expect it to be to our expectations, not a generic install - as far as we're aware this is fully setup on your server, not just the webparts.

    The issue of low bandwidth... sort of agree then again, our HT connects via ISDN, not everyone is up to date.. it's about allowing access to the masses, let everyone have a chance to access... we were shown slides of graphs, pie charts as well as text.

    Accessibility... these are things that Capita should take care of, graphs/reports and the like need this consideration too.


    We are paying for a full service, the install should cover these things... infact, accesibility & HCI in general should be covered pre-dev.
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 25th March 2010 at 06:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhyte85 View Post
    This is where both the school and I disagree with your point of 'It is all down to how you set up sharepoint - it isn't a SIMS SLG related issue really.' - if this is fully hosted the responsibility then falls with Capita... Flipside, we'd pay for a setup that costs a fair chunk... we expect it to be to our expectations, not a generic install - as far as we're aware this is fully setup on your server, not just the webparts.
    If you host with Capita that is. I wouldn't personally go down that route - it removes too much from your control. I'd be looking at hosting it yourselves. Also, as far as I'm aware, they provide you with a sharepoint install set up with web parts. Making it look pretty, etc... would be up to you.

    Also, password policy is up to your school to decide. If you let staff use poor passwords, then you'll have issues with every system they use, regardless of whether it is hosted externally or not.
    Last edited by localzuk; 25th March 2010 at 06:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    If you host with Capita that is. I wouldn't personally go down that route - it removes too much from your control. I'd be looking at hosting it yourselves.

    Also, password policy is up to your school to decide. If you let staff use poor passwords, then you'll have issues with every system they use, regardless of whether it is hosted externally or not.
    It doesn't matter how much you enforce a policy, with AD and paper based policies stating secure passwords... you will get a few with a guessable password, if a system contains live data which is potentially dangerous in the wrong hands it needs that extra layer... whether the URL is obfuscated or unobvious... it needs that extra layer for the very reason that we can't see what a member of staffs password is through AD only that it meets criteria.

    EDIT:

    We had been advised to get an upgrade to 100mb connection, this was subsidised... our LA really wants us to have SLG... or should I say SIMS learning webpart... nothing more than an plug-in.
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 25th March 2010 at 06:34 PM.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhyte85 View Post
    It doesn't matter how much you enforce a policy, with AD and paper based policies stating secure passwords... you will get a few with a guessable password, if a system contains live data which is potentially dangerous in the wrong hands it needs that extra layer... whether the URL is obfuscated or unobvious... it needs that extra layer for the very reason that we can't see what a member of staffs password is through AD only that it meets criteria.
    So, do you have extra layers of security for all your normal teacher logins in school? ie. for accessing SIMS within school? For accessing their email, the public drives etc...?

    I ask because it seems you are holding the SLG product to a standard that most schools don't implement within their own networks...

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    dwhyte85's Avatar
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    So, do you have extra layers of security for all your normal teacher logins in school? ie. for accessing SIMS within school? For accessing their email, the public drives etc...?

    I ask because it seems you are holding the SLG product to a standard that most schools don't implement within their own networks...

    On a school Network it's slightly different to the world wide web... not a fair comparison. A child within school would be quickly spotted, some spotty little so - so could be doing this behind proxys/Tor guessing passwords - blocking IPs and account lockouts help, but... I don't want them getting to the point they could do that. The fact it's unlikely isn't the point, it's the principal of the web being slightly more open than my network and far harder to find who could be doing things, if they can't get to the teacher URL... they couldn't do any damage.

    EDIT:

    Understand your point localzuk, whether or not you'll change my POV is another matter. For the money paid this needs to be something complete OR maybe we needed a better demonstration...
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 25th March 2010 at 06:59 PM.

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