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MIS Systems Thread, Sims.net and Terminal services remote app in Technical; Hi All, I work in a secondary school with around 1400 students where we use Sims.net and lesson monitor for ...
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    british_government's Avatar
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    Sims.net and Terminal services remote app

    Hi All,

    I work in a secondary school with around 1400 students where we use Sims.net and lesson monitor for every session of the day.

    The setup we have is using 5 terminal services running 2008R2 with session broker load balancing, staff have a sims.rdp shortcut which logs them on to the fdarm and runs sims in a remote app. This is a good solution for us management wise as we have about 150 staff all using sims on a daily basis and individually managing updates on each laptop/desktop is not a viable option, especially with the added pains of windows 7 sp1, a very locked down network and UAC.

    It is, however, my personal opinion that sims is not up to being run in this manner, Microsoft reccomend only scorm programs be used (and I think sims is a long way off that model!) as others can cause issues, sims through the remote app can hang, crash, freeze and generally be all around slow however a local client install suffers the poor speed it is more stable.

    Does anybody have experience with a similar setup? How stable is sims overall in a remote app for other schools? What other sollutions would you reccomend?

    Also, I was hoping to do some benchmarking by timing a single consistant action in sims but I cant really find anything that fits the criteria, anything on that would be great too.

    If you need any more info please let me know.

    Thanks
    Sam

    UPDATE: Just thought to add this, terminal servers are all xeon 2.8 or higher with 8gb ram.

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    AButters's Avatar
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    It seems a VERY excessively expensive way of running SIMS.net client on each workstation.

    Why not install and run SIMS.net client on each workstation as the vast majority of other schools do here is a very simplified method:

    1. Set up a network map for your SIMS server. Make sure permissions etc are configured correctly

    2. You could use PDQ Deploy to push out the SIMS.net client (with a redirect sims.ini and connect.ini to your SIMS mapped drive) to 150 workstations in one hour.

    3. All you have to do then is add some group policy preference settings so that non local admin users have read write access to %ProgramFiles%\SIMS.net and a few other registry settings so staff can run the SIMS solus updates and give them the shortcut.

    Done. Easy Ė works every day, day in day out. Been running it like that here since 2005.

    Donít get me wrong there are a fair few more than just 3 steps involved in setting it up from scratch but itís really not difficult and donít be afraid of it. Why donít you trial it on a few PCs?

    In my humble opinion running a fleet of terminal servers to enable access to an application that can be quite power hungry and really is not too suited to thin client use and can easily be installed locally on each PC is a barmy waste of money.
    Last edited by AButters; 16th March 2012 at 10:16 AM.

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    british_government's Avatar
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    Thanks, nice to see that there are options.

    A bit more background, we used to run the setup you described up until 2009 from when sims was first installed in the school back in the 90's I believe. In september 2009 we moved into a new school with the setup described below, one of the features of our network is an NEC flex with 4 physical servers clustered running hyper-v and the terminal servers mentioned above are all virtual servers.

    An issue we have concerns about is that the majority of sims instances are running on wireless staff laptops, we have a couple of machines running local copies of sims but they are desktops of domain admins so this covers all of the possible update issues. Staff need instant access, we cant have the problem we used to have where an update is run and each workstation takes 10 minutes to install the update when a teacher is waiting to take their register.

    I do like the idea of expanding trials slightly so wireless laptops with loacked down staff accounts and seeing what issues come up, as they will always have remoteapp as a backup anyway.

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    Running via TS is the way our LEA hosts SIMS for us - personaly it is quite a nice option and runs smoothly (assuming other schools arn't chewing through the SQL servers!).

    Personaly I would rather run it over App-V if we had it hosted localy.

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    british_government's Avatar
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    I like the idea of app-v, I dont know why we havent thought of that before, sequencing now for a test!

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    nickbro's Avatar
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    We run sims locally on some pcs, and on a RDP server. We use Remote Apps to get to SIMS as to not overly expose the server. The RD App that runs is actually a script that maps the S:\ and then launches pulsar.exe. Remote Apps don't run all of the logon scripts, so they may/may not map the network drivers.

    Mainly used for remote access to sims from home and for the staff using their netbooks to do registers in assemblies

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    We are also running a mixed environment - the majority of users have SIMS installed locally on their laptops or desktops. It is installed as a remoteapp mainly to allow the local college to access SIMS so they can fill in registers for the classes that they teach for us.

    @british_government - our server is virtual, 4gb ram, 2.8ghz quad core. Only 4 -6 users of sims as a remoteapp concurrently. Other remoteapps are on the server adding load for other subjects/departments

    Quote Originally Posted by british_government View Post
    Staff need instant access, we cant have the problem we used to have where an update is run and each workstation takes 10 minutes to install the update when a teacher is waiting to take their register.
    Does SOLUS 3 not help this by allowing updates to be deployed? - doesn't help if the device is off until 2 seconds before they try and use SIMS, but should help? Failing that, we just kept reminding staff to load SIMS up 10 mins before they needed it after an update. Then it is their choice if they wish to ignore the advice and potentially ruin the first 10 minutes of the lesson...

  8. Thanks to trolley01 from:

    british_government (19th March 2012)

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    british_government's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, I assume you are using UAG as a remote solution?

    TBH we have only just started looking at solus 3 as the system was setup in 2009 and hasnt been reviewed until now. We are looking at using app-v now too and in our tests this has been quite succesful but again updating is something we need to look at and test to make sure it wont cause problems.

    We are in a good situation though in that we can test local installs and app-v but still have remote-app as a backup.

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