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Network and Classroom Management Thread, Support Providers in Technical; Without getting too far into the usual "vanilla or RM?" argument, we're considering migrating away from RM, as we want ...
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    enjay's Avatar
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    Support Providers

    Without getting too far into the usual "vanilla or RM?" argument, we're considering migrating away from RM, as we want Windows 7 but have reservations about CC4, and have some plans which might be easier outside of an RM network.

    Those of you who run native MS networks, do you manage these on your own or with the help of an outside company? I'm not talking full-on managed service here, we would retain ownership and responsibility for the network, but would like to have some people to call in instances where it gets beyond local knowledge or ability.

    To this end, I'd be grateful to anyone who could recommend a few companies worth contacting. Equally, those who are flying solo, how big is your IT Support team (relative to network/school size)?

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    No answers sorry, but I'd be interested to see some. Personally I'd be very reluctant to take on buck-stop support for a random 'vanilla'. For a CC you [can] know the architecture and ditto if it's a vanilla you designed, but someone else's bright ideas could be 'interesting' enough to land you in a world of trouble and I wouldn't want to touch it unless it was a "no guarantees, best endeavours paid by the hour" kind of deal.

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Even if you go it alone, you have plenty of support options without buying into a managed service/support contract.
    For a start, combination of Edugeek and Google solves 99% of problems. Then there is your LEA team, Microsoft Technical Support (charged per incident) and then stack loads of companies who can provide specialist support :-)
    Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, set up a small test network, get it figured out, ask questions on here and you soon have a nice working vanilla network and be wondering what all the fuss was about!

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    When I started we had CSE I m so thankful vanilla now, never felt out of my depth

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    We used to have a CC3 network a very long time ago and migrated over to a Vanilla - all work done by myself and my LM. We had 6 months to prepare so whenever either one of us had the chance, we would work on the brand new server we purchased specifically for the new network. Summer came and it was a matter of rebuilding all our workstations and ironing out the problems people had, e.g. no printers, map drives, things were too restrictive etc. Once we got it working the way we wanted it to work, we then rebuilt our CC3 servers to member servers and one a secondary DC.

    If you're in a team I don't think you need the support. Set up a test network and give it a shot. If you're on your own then it might be worth considering getting little support from your LA for your piece of mind.

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    Steven_Cleaver's Avatar
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    I manage the network myself and their is a team of three of us 360 PC's 40 laptops,5 Physical servers ( with 12 Vitrual on these boxes) Curriculum and Admin, network including SIM's etc our own hosted VLE Moodle, website etc.

    We run a Vanilla Network with some management tools for user creation and desktop, printer, application deployment and much more these are provided by a support company we use who will also supply you with as much support or as little as you require, will do Managed Service or telephone or Server Warranties with emergency cover.They will also support you during large projects if you require.

    I have found their support invaluable Burconix - Professional ICT Solutions for Education and SME and great value for money.I have been using them for a few years now and they have never let me down.
    Last edited by Steven_Cleaver; 1st February 2011 at 07:25 PM.

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    Joskos, a new sponsor, provide just such services. A bit like the AA for LANs. Give them a ring.

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    I / we've run vanilla and managed ourselves for about 5 or 6 years now. Like irsprint84 we opted for CSE Education Systems.
    As a company CSE were actually started by ex-RM managers and offered an affordable alternative to CC3 for us which was based on a vanilla system and gave us a platform to build upon. PM me if you would like my contact with the company.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mb2k01 View Post
    I / we've run vanilla and managed ourselves for about 5 or 6 years now. Like irsprint84 we opted for CSE Education Systems.
    As a company CSE were actually started by ex-RM managers and offered an affordable alternative to CC3 for us which was based on a vanilla system and gave us a platform to build upon. PM me if you would like my contact with the company.
    I opted out! last time I spoke to themn I swore and we never spoke again! so tacked on and running on dual cores were a chore

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    enjay's Avatar
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    All good points, guys, and I don't doubt that with the support of a team of technicians and my LEA, we could do this ourselves. BUT - I'm a one man department and we're an independent school!

    It could be that pay-per-incident support would be sufficient. I wouldn't contact them very often so don't really want to pay the sums of money I'm currently paying to RM for a helpdesk I rarely use, but I would feel more comfortable having some form of safety net behind me (mixed metaphor, safety nets are underneath you, aren't they!).

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    Enjay, your LA should be able to provide such a service like this, whereby they'll charge you on a per incident call rather than an annual fee. My LA does exactly this but we don't make use of them unless it's cabling work we're after.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    @chuckster - we an independent school, so no LA.

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    BUT - I'm a one man department and we're an independent school!
    The LA here do support for a nearby Independent.

    Your problem ought to be how to design/make a good vanilla architecture - if that's decent at the start then it ought to be easier to subsequently manage than CC4 (where folk have exerted quite a bit of effort patching the CC4 management s/w as opposed to juts getting on and managing their system with it).
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 2nd February 2011 at 07:30 PM.

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    I'm in exactly same position. Still with CC3, would like to move to Vanilla or something better than CC3. Moving to Vanilla would not cost me anything apart time, got all licenses in place already. But never managed domain without any support tools, like RM has. As budget cuts are already in plans (ICT budget cut by 70% from April) I can't clearly afford to move to CC4 or CSE. So two options, stay where I'm or move to Vanilla by my self. Second option is very tempting for me, I would love to do it, but really afraid of the problems which might come up. My line manager is not total convinced with dropping RM and have no support on other side of the line. We pay for support 4,5K a year. If we move to vanilla and want support, we can get probably third party company who would do it, but after few quotes I can see they will charge similar amount as RM does.
    New system with win2k8 and Windows 7 is tempting, but amount of potential problems discourage me. And if I would do it, Head would want fully working network in September, no one wants whole school to be testing ground.

    At the moment playing with test domain, but recently did not have time to test new ideas, as very often is the case - there is always something else to do I'm sure you would agree.

    Really not sure what to do

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    Hiyah ... Just my 2 pence worth .... a properly setup windows network will in my experience give little trouble .. decent hardware and keeping on top of hard drive space etc will generally keep the underlying system running OK: Theres heaps of free support out there if you do need to get some answers ... I'm not an expert in RM support tools but I run my networks using freely available programmes and software. Win2k8 and windows 7 interface well and as long as you keep it simple..... works!!! I'm not talking about virtualisation here but a bulk standard 1 or two server setup .... A little bit of research into group policies will help ....
    I have networks here that I installed over a year ago and Ive not had a phone call since other than new software needed!!

    As long as you know what you want to do then IMO its easy to find something that will do it !!!

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