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MIS Systems Thread, Sims Intouch - Have you signed up? in Technical; ...
  1. #16

    matt40k's Avatar
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    From what i've heard it'll be good, just not sure if anyone could really afford it. Hopefully LA's will be able to support it and get the costs cut drematically.

    Perhaps Capita should have a word with a few of the other companys out there. I know a few that are free setup etc, just 3p per text.

    Other thing I want to know, is there a web interface so you can sent alerts remotely - such as via a web page. Let me guess, SLG add-on \ webparts... more £££.

    Be nice to see a "post to facebook" option. I know, I know, love it or hate it, but come snow days, you'll be suprised how many parents facebook each other to let the other parents know the schools closed (or open in some cases).

  2. #17

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    [QUOTE=marshharrier;534679]Might want to look at a similar thread --> [SIMS] Extra curricular

    "Capita don't need to occupy this space and IMHO schools should NOT buy into InTouch as a protest! As usual Capita are trying to muscle in on EVERYTHING and expecting schools to pay through the nose. Vote with your feet folks or very soon all you'll be able to buy is Capita products.QUOTE]"


    Interesing to read your comments marshharrier - reminded me of investigations being made by the OFT last year about Capita 'overcharging schools for the past 10 years' and it's 'anti-competitive behaviour' resulting from its dominance in the market - see www.kable.co.uk/capita-office-fair-trading-education-bromcom-08dec09.

    Seems standard 'OP' for Capita - I'm note sure if the OFT has concluded it's investigations but if not I hope they will act to ensure Captia operates fairly or, as you say, we (schools) will end up with little choice but to buy Capita products - and pay big bills!
    Last edited by Mr_Writer; 30th June 2010 at 10:12 AM.

  3. #18
    Sarconia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    You're obviously used to a much better level of service
    I was referring to the level of service which I, myself provide!

    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    What about option c) a trainee is sent out to your site
    Trainee's should only accompany others who are experienced really. That's what being a trainee is about, you are in training and should be trained, preferably not let loose on your own whilst you're still clueless.

    In regard to the rest of the topic, I said the other week that Capita/SIMS are a bit like Microsoft when they had a monopoly on everything back in the 90's early 00's. They had a monopoly and their products weren't particularly great but the consumers had no choice so they ran with it anyway. Now that MS actually have some competition and have been fined by the EU (I forget how many times) they are actually much better. IE has been steadily losing it's % share of people using it and I believe that we will see a lot more people using open source OS's in the future. As soon as it's possible to play most games on Linux, I'll be gone!

    @Mr_Writer: That is a very interesting article indeed, it seems that SIMS has always been in the spotlight on and off for anti-competitive behaviour. I remember someone at a SIMS conference once saying "Our local LA, Bedfordshire... continues to push the RM solution". I had absolutely no idea why until I looked up SIMS one day on wikipedia and I almost spat what I was drinking out all over my monitor. Now I understand that Wikipedia isn't always accurate, however... and this applies to all things, all rumours come from a truth which usually isn't known to many. There has to be some sort of fire to start the rumour going, otherwise there wouldn't be one.

  4. #19

    russdev's Avatar
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    Funny thing about anti-competitive law if one hand capita under charge they would be anti-competitive if they are over charge they get investigated by OFT just a thought...

    Russ

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    It's not really that funny. It's nothing to do with 'undercharging' - it's the fact that Capita's diminance, with a quoted 80% of the school market, puts them in a position where they can do what the hell they like. If it's true that Capita has over charged schools by £75m over 10 years, I don't find that funny either...

    A bit of lunchtime research has shown that the OFT has not yet responded to Bromcom on this matter.

  6. #21

    vikpaw's Avatar
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    I'm just looking at the promo webcast, and there are some features that i do like the sound of.
    If it's a messaging system integrated into SIMS, i don't need to rely on the internet to synch the data.
    Internal messaging then becomes a lot easier.
    It would be possible to automate the messaging to a degree, such that a house leader gets a message when their house reaches a certain number of points - (thinking of a tie in to Discover / dynamic groups / reporting engine) - lots could be done.
    I like the ability to add numbers / recipients on the fly.
    Not sure if any of the above is possible with competing products, but i can see some benefits from it being 'in house' even if i don't agree with the monopoly or pushing out of other partners.

  7. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by russdev View Post
    Funny thing about anti-competitive law if one hand capita under charge they would be anti-competitive if they are over charge they get investigated by OFT just a thought...

    Russ
    Russ - I don't want to turn this into an outright Capita bashing thread, but I think there is a very disturbing and not so obvious problem that is not being picked up by schools generally.

    The more schools rely on SIMS, the more companies are forced to partner with Capita (because it makes life easier for schools), and the more Capita moves into competition with niche providers (partners) the biggers SIMS becomes .... can you see where this is going?!

    It's a vicious circle which schools will be unable to break out of. Capita know this very well and they don't want niche providers getting any kind of foothold which might allow them to tackle the MIS sector. That is where the true anti-competitivness angle comes from i.e. stymying the market and removing future competitors while they're too small to fight back. THAT is the real hidden secret here and schools are playing straight into Capita's hands because generally speaking, they are only interested in what is easiest to do!

    Using something which is 'inside' SIMS will ALWAYS BE EASIER than using a 3rd party product, and as long as 'easiness' is at the top of the school IT agenda, it will always triumph.

    A long view is required right now before it is too late. Schools need to say no to Capita by not buying their bolt-ons! Only if this happens consistently will they concentrate on their MIS tool and make it as good as it could be.

  8. #23

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    Anyone seen this -> Sims InTouch port requirements

    I know for CERTAIN I don't want a permanent VPN connection to my database! Any connections needs to be controlled by me and not by a third party (whomever they may be!)

  9. #24

    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marshharrier View Post
    I know for CERTAIN I don't want a permanent VPN connection to my database! Any connections needs to be controlled by me and not by a third party (whomever they may be!)
    Sorry, I don't understand, you have a firewall, you create them a SIMS account, thus limiting what they can see and do. If you believe they've breach the agreement, you have enought logs to confirm or deny this. If they have they are subject to the data protection act (among other things).

    I accept there is a elimate of trust, but it's no different then the trust between a head teacher and the network manager.

    As for this idea that Capita will hold all the data, it's extremely unlikey. Capita is a business, they currently make money from creating software. Support is normally the most costly part of software. However Capita have got around this by getting LA and other 3rd parties to support the software. Training, new installs etc is all chargable.

    I can't see public sector getting true 100% uptime connectively. The only sector is the emegerency services, where downtime is measured in lives. I've not heard of many places with true 100% uptime, dual feed connects feed via separate ducts, carriers etc. I can see LA's doing it, I mean if the internet goes down, I can see someone driving out with a replace server, but from Bedford? I doubt it.

  10. #25

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    It's a VPN as in "N is for Network", not an TLS-ised specific application protocol. It necessarily sails through an edge firewall to the relevant box, which I suppose if it's a big fat and relatively expensive SQL app server might host some other DBs. The point of VPNs is that any traffic can be stuffed through one, and of course the standard security practice for VPNs has you terminate them outside a firewall so you can filter what comes out of them.

    So, does the config you get by default limit it just talking SQL protocols from Capita-land (and how would that be limited to a specific SQL instance)? And if not where/how do you configure what's allowed to pop out of it at your end? Apparently doesn't use certs for mutual auth. either so how good is that shared secret and how widely is it shared i.e. are they unique per site and what's the entropy like?

    As for this idea that Capita will hold all the data, it's extremely unlikey
    Mr Neal seems to think it will all end up in shipping containers sooner or later. Personally I think there still a few cost of bandwidth vs. increasing data bloat issues to contend with. Plus with a lot of business critical eggs in a basket the very first outage longer than say 36 hours i.e. hitting Day 2, will put a lot of folk into reverse.

  11. #26

    matt40k's Avatar
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    Out-of-box solution would be setup Windows Server 2008 firewall, it's picked up as a separate nic. Each SQL instance locks to a TCP port, so you've instancely limited to SIMS2008 instance. Not difficult to do, I would have SQL setup to log successful logins as well.

    I'm not a security expert, so I can't comment. I'm sure Capita would have consulted a security expert when they were developing it to ensure it's the best, most secure solution.

    Personally, this discussion needs to go on SupportNet, at least people are checked, so it's not other companys poking Capita. Anyway, IMHO.

  12. #27

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    Well spotted matt40k! I wasn't going to say anything but its been a long day!

  13. #28

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    Personally, this discussion needs to go on SupportNet, at least people are checked, so it's not other companys poking Capita.
    Well spotted matt40k! I wasn't going to say anything but its been a long day!
    ROFL.
    Ask a few simple security questions that should be of interest to anyone allowing any incoming to their LAN, reference something I just read in another thread and:
    Duh.. lemme see..
    oh yeah, 2 + 2 = 22 so
    ::lightbulb::
    You can only be some undercover secret agent working for the Capita opposition!!

    How extraordinarily Kafka-eqsue... my, I will cherish this one!

    Or maybe not ::sob:: - are you perhaps, talking about the first post matt40K replied to? But even so you've sucked me in without so much as a.. I'm currently directly on the public pay-roll like most everyone else. I do however have some security in my past and present, thus would like people to care about these kind of issues... y'know as in security of their sensitive data.. that pesky thing the Cabinet Office downwards started getting very fretful about the other year.

    PS:
    I'm sure Capita would have consulted a security expert when they were developing it to ensure it's the best, most secure solution.
    Good for you. Meanwhile people like Ross Anderson seem to have managed to find security issues in big public sector projects run by other folk who can get some decent consultants, if not the spooks in. It seems highly unlikely Capita wouldn't have done this "nicely", but it really shouldn't hurt to ask or answer.
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 27th September 2010 at 10:47 PM. Reason: PS:

  14. Thanks to PiqueABoo from:

    Nuttyprof (28th September 2010)

  15. #29

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    Oh dear Mr Neal! You can hide behind "who might be bashing Capita" if you like, but a serious question has been asked here and YOU have not provided ANY substantial detail to answer it!

    The level of technical understanding to properly configure a firewall is considerable and if done badly, will be disastrous! Tying down access using a Firewall doesn't prevent people from probing other TCP ports for example, so it needs doing properly. Who at Primary school level will be doing this, and if it's being done by an outside body (even the Local Authority), how much are they telling the school in terms of what the precise level of access will be?

    I wonder also as to "who" will now be held responsible for the safety of personal data given there is 3rd party access (and risk)?

    I think 'PiqueABoo's points about authentication need answering .... not palming away as being paranoid.

    For myself, I would not sanction a permanent VPN connection unless I was in charge of setting it up personally. I fear that this will not be the case for lots of schools!

    Lastly, and this will not be received well by some; I'm really tired every time someone challenges Mr Neal (or Capita generally) with a reasonable question or concern, that they get accused of being an anti Capita agent! It is perfectly reasonable to ask questions for goodness sake - but more importantly to GET ANSWERS!
    Last edited by Nuttyprof; 28th September 2010 at 12:00 PM.

  16. #30

    matt40k's Avatar
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    I'm failing to understand what your problem is. VPN stuff was orginally used by Capita for centrally hosted SLG (SIMS learning gateway), why are you now complaining? Only thing I can think of is you have something to with a certain SIMS > SMS company (quiet rightly so that they are narked off), thus my SupportNet comment.

    The way it works in Suffolk, is the school contacts Capita, they agree to purchase, School signs CSD's code of connection, Capita signs CSD's code of connection, CSD opens VPN connection to Capita's VPN, Capita installs VPN (+ SLG\InTouch (or school does), school confirms ok (or contacts CSD to confirm). By Capita signing the code of connection, if the data is leaked via the VPN (or such), it's Capita fault and they are liable.

    Doing it this way, you are 1. sure you are connecting to capita, 2. the data is encrypted, 3. capita can only access what they are suppose to, 4. anything they do is logged against a capita user\ip, 5. It's there problem if something happens.

    Does that make sense or have I missed something?

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