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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS and SQL, which version in Technical; We currently run our SIMS system on the MSDE, and this is beginning to creak a bit (our database is ...
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    SIMS and SQL, which version

    We currently run our SIMS system on the MSDE, and this is beginning to creak a bit (our database is getting a bit large, and our use of SIMS.net is increasing). The LEA say that the free upgrade to SQL Express is coming in the summer.

    At my last school where we took direct capita support they strongly advised us to migrate to full SQL server, express not being available then.

    Our assistant head with responsibility for this is worried that our user's SIMS experience will be too slow, and wants me to find out if the express upgrade is going to increase our performance enough or if we need to splash out on the full version of SQL.

    We will shortly be moving to lesson monitor, and all staff will also be encouraged to use SIMS.net - and we are also engaged in rolling out RM portal+ with the extensions for SIMS access via the portal. We have in the region of 100 staff who will be active SIMS users.

    Do people find that the SQL express version gives them enough speed, or would we be better advised to invest in the full version of SQL server?

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    Re: SIMS and SQL, which version

    Currently SIMS uses either MSDE or SQL 2000, from August it will be either SQL Express or SQL 2005.

    We currently run SQL 2000 as out database is over the 2Gb limit allowed by MSDE.

    We will be using SQL 2005 in August.

    This site gives a comparision of the versions of SQL.

    I have no doubt our database will be over 4Gb in under 2 years time, so I might as well take the plunge now and get the system right from the start.

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    Re: SIMS and SQL, which version

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewsmart
    We currently run our SIMS system on the MSDE, and this is beginning to creak a bit (our database is getting a bit large, and our use of SIMS.net is increasing). The LEA say that the free upgrade to SQL Express is coming in the summer.

    At my last school where we took direct capita support they strongly advised us to migrate to full SQL server, express not being available then.

    Our assistant head with responsibility for this is worried that our user's SIMS experience will be too slow, and wants me to find out if the express upgrade is going to increase our performance enough or if we need to splash out on the full version of SQL.

    We will shortly be moving to lesson monitor, and all staff will also be encouraged to use SIMS.net - and we are also engaged in rolling out RM portal+ with the extensions for SIMS access via the portal. We have in the region of 100 staff who will be active SIMS users.

    Do people find that the SQL express version gives them enough speed, or would we be better advised to invest in the full version of SQL server?
    Well technically, unless your on the official beta program, no one can make that judgement yet as the new version of SIMS isn't out.

    If you have the money go for the full MS SQL Server 2005. As you say MSDE is starting to crack at the seams for you. You have around SIMS users and access via RM portal. Now SQL Express has fewer capacity restrictions than MSDE but the way your school's going you may be hitting the limit sooner than later.

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    Re: SIMS and SQL, which version

    Unless you change the hardware you're really not going to see any difference in going from MSDE to SQL2000 (and similarly, in going from SQL Express to the full SQL 2005).

    RAM makes a huge difference to SQL - it will use as much as is available and caches the database where possible (SQL Express can't use much of it; the full SQL will use all you've got).

    Having the right indices also makes a difference but I'd guess there's little you can do about that.

    As ever, you need to monitor your server to see what is causing bottlenecks - is it RAM, disc, CPU, something else??

    I'm amazed that SIMS datbases get so big! We currently have about 100,000 student records and details of over 20,000 courses in our MIS system and the database is just about 9Gb!

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    Re: SIMS and SQL, which version

    We just upgraded our SIMS server - can't remember the spec as I'm at home right now, but it's a massive leap from the old one. I'm guessing that server power is not the issue.

    We have a whole raft of issues which might be affecting it, some people have sluggish older workstations (though all will meet the theoretical minimum requirements), some of the inter-building links are only on 100 rather than gig, some of the switches are not that modern; you know all the normal stuff which happens in schools IT!

    This came about as our assistant head did some training for some staff today in a room which is on the end of a 100mb link, on some older shuttle machines with 256ram, and where all four users were logged in with the same network account (not I hasten to add, the same SIMS account!). He was concerned it was slow when they tried to run reports or use assessment manager to access mark books and is very keen that this is not the performance they get when they come to use it for real. He's therefore looking for courses of action which will guarantee to improve the performance of SIMS as we put more emphasis on it.

    Clearly if we need to spend money, we need to spend it in the ways most certain to result in a significant improvement for all users. A complete replacement of workstations is not possible at this time, nor is a complete switch upgrade (though I'm working towards increasing links to gig from 100 and upgrading certain switches). An upgrade to the SQL database did occur to us as one thing which might produce the across-the-board improvements we want, but if the upgrade to express would do the job then the money could be better targeted elsewhere. As we are nearing the end of the school year, we are also going to have to make decisions quite fast so we can get work done over the summer if possible.

    Any advice or suggestions would be most welcome!

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