MIS Systems Thread, SIMs Discover and MIS Cloud questions in Technical; Hi everyone, I'm not techi at all so please be gentle with me.
I have to assess how we can ...
24th June 2012, 05:07 PM #1
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SIMs Discover and MIS Cloud questions
Hi everyone, I'm not techi at all so please be gentle with me.
I have to assess how we can improve our MIS. We currently use SIMs but I find the reporting rigid and am looking at SIMs Discover. Is there an extra cost to school for Discover and if so, do you have an idea what it might be.
Also, I think I'm grasping the concept of 'cloud' and would be grateful of your guidance as to whether I am on the right track.
To my knowledge our computers are linked to a server within school via the LAN. Staff have remote access to the server via the internet using remote access software. The schools server is backed-up centrally by the local authority and they maintain the schools server and any software we have on it. If we were to look at changing our MIS to a Cloud system, we would no longer require LAN or the schools server, as the data would be stored on a web-based platform serviced by SIMs or RM Integris or Progresso.
Is this correct or am I completely off track?
I have to report to Governors and I really don't feel like I know enough about the technical side of it. So your response in simple terms that I can understand is vital.
Thank you so much.
24th June 2012, 05:14 PM #2
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If I said in my report 'A possible solution to the additional cost would be to move the MIS from Local Area Network (LAN) to Cloud thereby removing the cost of LAN maintenance and upgrade'. Would this be factually correct?
24th June 2012, 07:37 PM #3
All your computers talk to each other and the internet using the LAN, so you would still need this. Sims is a server client software, so you would still need a server. Discover is just another way of viewing the Sims data held on you server which runs on your LAN.
24th June 2012, 10:23 PM #4
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Ah, I see. Many thanks for the reply. How are those companies offering Cloud based MIS able to reduce costs to schools. It seems to be a selling point, but I don't know how savings are possible without removing cost from another area.
Any ideas on this?
Again, many thanks for your reply.
25th June 2012, 07:35 AM #5
Discover is free and included. You can get the download information on SupportNet. The sticky thread on latest release gives the most recent knowledgebase reference, but a new one might be out by the end of the week.
Also, be aware, that at the moment SIMS doesn't have a cloud offering. As far as i know, Progresso is still being tested. RM do have a web based offering, not sure about hosting though.
I think you need to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. If it's just a general cost saving, it will depend on your environment. How many PCs do you have? How big is the school, how many SIMS users etc.
One big advantage is moving away from the traditional client server model, which saves having to manage software on end user PCs and so you save hassle and maintenance etc. but real money savings? I'm not sure you'd easily quantify it. You could save money on server hardware, but you're still likely to need a server on your site to maintain user files so again, will it be worth it.
Don't forget, if you have to change away from SIMS, this will entail a lot of work and a massive cost, so it's not something to do lightly. If you are really keen on doing this, then you should look at Aspen from Follett who sponsor this forum, but first look at what exactly is wrong with SIMS.
If you need help with reports or anything really, there are plenty of us here that can help, and maybe deliver the improvements you want without any drastic changes.
25th June 2012, 08:24 AM #6
As @vikpaw said the savings come through reduced infrastructure costs. Cloud based solutions tend to require only a browser on the client rather than a full operating system and office package to deliver the MIS. This essentially means that the hardware can be made to last longer , you don't need the man hours in maintenance on SIMS updates, server updates and associated costs such as MSOffice which SIMS is dependant upon. This in turn lends itself towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as staff can use the MIS on their own ipads etc.
Originally Posted by Qualitypolice999
The other side to this is you'll need a redundant internet connection, a decent LAN/Wireless infrastructure for user owned devices and training.
25th June 2012, 09:00 AM #7
Did someone mention cloud...
I don't think at this stage there is much I would want to add because there are so many already for you to think about, and I agree that you need to identify why SIMS is a cost burden to you before moving away. You will save in servers, power consumption, support man hours. You will need to ensure a somewhat reliable infrastructure, but to be honest other services in your school will require this just as much as Aspen, or any other cloud MIS will.
Things to look for if you are considering a change, because SIMS doesn't do what you need (or need anymore) is the things that will makes lives easier, quicker, simpler. All MISs will do mostly the same, store the same info that you need, this is no longer a comparison between the big players. But then you get the value add services like complete customisability, data IMPORT creation, facilities to automate processes, to build your own processes and data workflows, VLE integration (or in Aspen's case, the VLE is part of the MIS). Things that you might pay a lot more for that is built in, like parent portal, student portals, curriculum management tools...
25th June 2012, 09:27 AM #8
It may be worth seeing if your LA offer a remotely hosted solution for your SIMS system.
25th June 2012, 09:53 AM #9
Your governers might be confusing 'cloud' with 'hosted'.
We've got a centralised hosted solution, we've got quite a large set-up based on VMWare. About 100 SIMS databases are hosted on one virtual SQL server. Another virtual server is configured as a warm standby, kept up to date using log shipping routines. All the databases can be failed-over to the standby server in under 5 minutes. There's an enormous initial cost, but a greatly reduced support burden and far fewer items of infrastructure to look after. Access to the database is over WAN (private) networks.
For cloud systems, this entails moving your server operating systems and your databases to another providers infrastructure. You'd get a console log-in, just as if you had your own virtual machines, but physically, these machines would be running on hardware at your cloud provider's site(s), rather than your own. This way, you won't need server hardware, UPS systems, backup mechanisms, etc, as in theory these would be provided by your cloud host. Access is encrypted over public internet connections.
This is very unlikely to be successful for traditional client/server applications like SIMS. Unless SIMS is re-written as a cloud application, we are very unlikely to see SIMS as a true cloud application. However, Microsoft are keen for customers to adopt their Azure cloud offering, so there are tools for transforming apps for the cloud. This remains in the application developers' court.
There are cloud MIS systems available already, but as pointed out in earlier posts, there would no doubt be a 'significant' migration overhead.
Last edited by jinnantonnixx; 25th June 2012 at 10:26 AM.
25th June 2012, 11:24 AM #10
Slightly off topic - @jinnantonnixx - re: turning a app into the "cloud" - look at Discover -they've made use of WPF.
PS: I hate the whole cloud thing, it's a buzz word. It's basically self hosted or centrally hosted, local or remote, SIMS or Aspen
26th June 2012, 01:05 PM #11
Originally Posted by matt40k
@jinnantonnixx Aspen for example is true cloud, but the hosting environment is not required by the customer, only the application. Everything is done through the application, and because we take care of the hosting/datacentre then backups, redundancy, connection upkeep etc is all taken away from the school to worry about. Because they are in dedicated datacentres as well, then you can be sure you get the best connection, service etc because this is the business of the data centre.
Also, migration is not that bigger headache between x and Aspen, just like any other migration process. If you mean migrating from desktop app to cloud app (IE SIMS to the cloud) then that is a different matter for them I am sure.
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