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Network and Classroom Management Thread, RM CC4 Anywhere or Vanilla (Windows Only) Network in Technical; Originally Posted by russdev to say one way or another is better is dangerous road to go down. allow me ...
  1. #16

    MK-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by russdev View Post
    to say one way or another is better is dangerous road to go down.
    allow me to walk down that road, a vanilla network offers more freedom, choice, expansion and customisation than a managed network.

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    I think the real question Thomas is: "Does your school actually have any say in the matter?" It could well be the case that you are going to get whatever you are given by Your LEA/Consortium/RM regardless of what your technical team wish?

    I think your team need to have a chat with your head and find out if there is any say in the mater to be had.

    Butuz

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    MK-2 (16th August 2011)

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    Hi,

    I agree with Russ, the decision should be made on what is best for the school and its needs. There are obviously other reasons as well such as the skill set of the IT manager, IT technicians etc to manage the network and appropriate tools should be purchased (or use free ones if available) that the technicians and network managers are familiar with. Fully agree with Michael about the learning curve with any software or system, even with RM CC4 there is quite a few thigns to learn than CC3.

    There needs to be a careful evaluation made for each system before deciding on the one that meets the needs, can be managed in an easier manner and also will be scalable for expansion of IT in the school/college/organisation.

    Costing is an important factor in the decision especially that funding is being cut, HTG not available etc but again it depends on what kinds of agreement (EES, schools agreement etc) you are on, if you have bought CC4 dual licenses in the past etc.

    Ash.

  5. #19

    webman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK-2 View Post
    allow me to walk down that road, a vanilla network offers more freedom, choice, expansion and customisation than a managed network.
    Managed in what way?

    An RM network managed by a local team of people is essentially the same as running a vanilla network. You just have some RM software to help accomplish certain tasks.

  6. #20

    MK-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    Managed in what way?

    An RM network managed by a local team of people is essentially the same as running a vanilla network. You just have some RM software to help accomplish certain tasks.
    It's nothing like a vanilla network. You have RM software which, if it goes wrong, could grind your network to a halt and ONLY RM know how to fix.
    If you don't pay a yearly support fee you have no RM support, no updates, no nothing. You are reliant to a certain extent on RM and their ability to resolve issues, whereas on a vanilla network you are reliant on not only your own skills, but also have a massive range of companies on hand who have network technicians and specialists who could help.
    RM are, in a sense, like Apple. They control a lot of the user experience and if anything goes wrong, you can't just take it anywhere without invalidating support/warranty, you have to choose them.

    And this isn't just me, this is from a guy whose company worked closely with RM, those were his comments to our head.

  7. #21

    webman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK-2 View Post
    It's nothing like a vanilla network. You have RM software which, if it goes wrong, could grind your network to a halt and ONLY RM know how to fix.
    If you don't pay a yearly support fee you have no RM support, no updates, no nothing. You are reliant to a certain extent on RM and their ability to resolve issues, whereas on a vanilla network you are reliant on not only your own skills, but also have a massive range of companies on hand who have network technicians and specialists who could help.
    RM are, in a sense, like Apple. They control a lot of the user experience and if anything goes wrong, you can't just take it anywhere without invalidating support/warranty, you have to choose them.
    If any of your third-party (or even Microsoft software that isn't Windows) goes wrong, what do you do? What happens?

    If something goes wrong with RM, we have: our own knowledge, RM knowledgebase, this community forum and the RM Communities as our ports of call - that works for us.

    Any additional software is going to introduce another layer of "stuff" that can produce problems and needs support on some level.

  8. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I agree time is money, but I don't think it's very smart for a school to hire a technician and then that technician spends all day on the phone to a company like RM who then refuse to assist because the school haven't paid for technical support. It's a waste of time, money and phone calls when you have the KnowledgeBase articles at Microsoft.
    Pleased you agree with me on this but if the technical staff have the required training and skills which you are so adept at pointing out then there should be no need for that technical person to spend any time at all on the phone. RM also have a knowledge base which you are able to access when you purchase their software just like Microsoft and it is also free. Like Microsoft if you require any technical help then it costs which is the same for any service.


    Could you give an example of this?
    Printer management software, various which doesn't always work with the latest printers and drivers.


    There are legitimate reasons why schools pay good money for technical people and to LA's. The difference being (in my above example), RM and the technical person are essentially trying to do the same thing, whereas with an LA, they typically solve problems I do not control - for example MIS upgrades, internet connectivity and/or proxy issues to name a few.
    Pray tell me what are the legitimate reasons for paying twice for technical people and also LA SLA's, surely if the technical staff have the required training and experience then there is legitimately no reason for it. I do all the MIS upgrades and the Microsoft upgrades etc plus the RM stuff as well and we have no SLA's here and we don't ring RM up and ask for technical help as we have no SLA with them either.


    I cannot comment specifically why this has happened as I do not know what systems they have used or why, or what their goals were or are. I must make it clear however, that every vanilla network I support is slightly different from the other because I listen to their requirements and working with staff, I deliver what they require. I don't use any 'special' third party tools.
    I can, it is because of technical people getting too involved with their own requirements rather than the end users requirements which has led to these different installations costing valuable time and money. Technical people can be retrained on various software and hardware far cheaper than end users.


    I don't fully agree with this. Primarily what the end users requirements are is most important and what technical staff want is also important. This thread started because thomaspark is using RM CC3 and clearly despite having a service agreement, it hasn't worked out quite to the schools needs. If a software application doesn't run and the staff and pupils need it, this really isn't smart at all and quite rightly he's decided to ask other people's opinions. If you're expected to manage a network then it makes good sense that you're using tools you're most familiar with
    We must beg to differ then as I see it a necessary requirement to make sure that the end user is fully catered for and not the directions of the technical staff albeit that they will be taken into account when doing a system analysis before initialising the project. We have never had any problems with software management and deployment with either CC3 or CC4 whereas I have heard quite a few people having problems deploying with Vanilla systems.

    I do value your input michael and I do hope that you see both sides of the facts.

  9. #23

    MK-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    If any of your third-party (or even Microsoft software that isn't Windows) goes wrong, what do you do? What happens?

    If something goes wrong with RM, we have: our own knowledge, RM knowledgebase, this community forum and the RM Communities as our ports of call - that works for us.

    Any additional software is going to introduce another layer of "stuff" that can produce problems and needs support on some level.
    dont want to turn this into a for/against RM thread so will keep this short.

    any additional software will add another layer yes, but when all that software ties into one, it means that one thing going wrong on RM (the rm service host for example) and it could kill machine builds, software rollouts, user changes, the lot. an RM component going wrong could be the same as your entire network going wrong depending on how they have installed it. I'm not arguing that any software can go wrong and require help, but with RM you are so walled-in with requiring their support it makes it harder

    Quote Originally Posted by bossman View Post
    RM also have a knowledge base which you are able to access when you purchase their software just like Microsoft and it is also free
    just wanted to add on that, it's not technically free. When our RM support contract ran out, I could still see the RM KB headings, but clicking on any of the links came up with a "you are not authorised to view this page" error. If you don't pay your yearly RM subscription you don't get RM support, whereas with Microsoft you pay for your licences and still have a wealth of information on the internet if you don't have a technet sub.

    Again not trying to turn this into an RM bashing thread, there are enough of them, but from my experiences running an RM network they can at times run like Apple with the "do it our way or we disown you" stance.

  10. #24

    webman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK-2 View Post
    any additional software will add another layer yes, but when all that software ties into one, it means that one thing going wrong on RM (the rm service host for example) and it could kill machine builds, software rollouts, user changes, the lot. an RM component going wrong could be the same as your entire network going wrong depending on how they have installed it.
    I do see your point, and appreciate that. However, when it works, it does work rather well (in our experience)

  11. #25

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    Pleased you agree with me on this but if the technical staff have the required training and skills which you are so adept at pointing out then there should be no need for that technical person to spend any time at all on the phone. RM also have a knowledge base which you are able to access when you purchase their software just like Microsoft and it is also free. Like Microsoft if you require any technical help then it costs which is the same for any service.
    I do consider myself a competent IT Professional, but it would be foolish of me to say I never get stuck. I'm always given new problems to resolve and I just find Microsoft's KB is a real KB of information and RM's is comparatively small and not as comprehensive. Failing this, there's always Google and inevitably someone else out there has had the same problem and more importantly how they went about fixing it. I can't really rely on Googling RM problems at is very much a niche market.

    Printer management software, various which doesn't always work with the latest printers and drivers.
    I think practically every site I support has at least one centrally managed photocopier or leased printer. Companies generally provide software or at the very least print outs of monthly usage numbers. It's not really my job to monitor printing, it's a ICT co or school management to monitor. My job is to make sure the printing actually works

    Pray tell me what are the legitimate reasons for paying twice for technical people and also LA SLA's, surely if the technical staff have the required training and experience then there is legitimately no reason for it. I do all the MIS upgrades and the Microsoft upgrades etc plus the RM stuff as well and we have no SLA's here and we don't ring RM up and ask for technical help as we have no SLA with them either.
    It really depends you see. Some LAs do actually provide good services or software at good prices such as internet connectivity, filtering, Microsoft licenses and MIS support. Schools do of course have the choice not to pay, but the alternatives normally are a lot more expensive. Buying in bulk always makes a big difference.

    We must beg to differ then as I see it a necessary requirement to make sure that the end user is fully catered for and not the directions of the technical staff albeit that they will be taken into account when doing a system analysis before initialising the project. We have never had any problems with software management and deployment with either CC3 or CC4 whereas I have heard quite a few people having problems deploying with Vanilla systems.

    I do value your input michael and I do hope that you see both sides of the facts.
    I don't disagree with you that the end user (or pupil in this case) is the most important but also delivering that network, the interface and making sure uptime is at a maximum does require a lot of skill. If the network goes down, of course it is upto the technical person responsible to resolve these issues at the earliest opportunity.

    It has been well discussed on these forums that RM CC4 was an absolute disaster when it launched and quite rightly schools that invested all the time, planning and money would be very cheesed off. It's only until later releases that these problems were resolved. Now if you were one of the first to deploy RM CC4, I don't think you would of been best pleased given the time it takes to create a reliable network.

    I do see both sides of the argument and as you say, I do value other people's opinions and experiences

  12. #26

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    @Michael:

    I have been at our school for the past 10 years and in this time have been involved with all aspects of its design and implementation from the very start.

    I designed the total infrastructure and the network which sits on top of it from scratch.

    Having been Microsoft trained to MCSE 2003 level in 2006 I could have gone down the Vanilla route and could still go down this route if I so required but have not found it necessary.

    In our 10 years of operation we have had endured to date just 4 hours of downtime and of this 3 hours was actually the Sims server RAID config which only stopped the staff from using the Sims.

    We migrated to a Windows 7 platform just last February in 9 days which included virtualisation of most servers and rebuild of all clients and a move to RMCC4 servers. We know that some other users on this forum are taking up all of their schools 6 weeks holidays to do this on a Vanilla system and whilst this is taking place the network is unusable.

    I'm not saying that there is one system which is better than any other just putting into words what we have achieved over the past 10 years.

    I have to re-iterate when I say its not what system you are using but what is the end result for your end users that counts.

    Technical staff can be retrained again and again to run the systems which fulfils the criteria which the school requires.

    You would probably benefit from training up on RMCC4 it might add another string to your bow and also some Capita skills might not go amiss.

    I feel your very happy with Microsoft software as am I its just that I like to do other things with my time instead of constantly creating scripts and batch files for deploying applications and files (not that I condemn it) I have enough to do besides with Sims, FMS, Parental access, remote desktops, VLE etc etc.

    I wish you well with all your Vanilla networks and I do mean that sincerely.

    P.S. I know you get stuck sometimes, have read your post on KMS server and client deployment problems.

    Took me just over an hour to build KMS server and the Office Pro Plus 2010 client app, deploy and test successfully all on a RMCC4 network not bad eh!

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    Tallwood_6 (17th August 2011)

  14. #27

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    In our 10 years of operation we have had endured to date just 4 hours of downtime and of this 3 hours was actually the Sims server RAID config which only stopped the staff from using the Sims.
    Well I have to congratulate you as that's an excellent uptime. It's really difficult for me to do a direct comparative as I work at many sites and like you I manage everything on site from A to Z. Most downtime ends up being a hardware related issue rather than a configuration related issue.

    You would probably benefit from training up on RMCC4 it might add another string to your bow and also some Capita skills might not go amiss.
    Maybe but it certainly isn't on my agenda right now and I don't have any RMCC4 schools. From the top of my head, I cannot think of any in the immediate area that I have come across. I really don't know (compared to CC3) what the number of schools are who use CC4.

    I feel your very happy with Microsoft software as am I its just that I like to do other things with my time instead of constantly creating scripts and batch files for deploying applications and files (not that I condemn it) I have enough to do besides with Sims, FMS, Parental access, remote desktops, VLE etc etc.
    I don't actually write that many scripts anymore and like RM, you can use the real WinInstall and create MSIs for a vanilla network. It's generally less of an issue these days. Especially now with 2008 R2, I deploy network drives via GPO so there's no logon script at all. I've deployed printers via GPO since 2003 R2 for years now.

    There clearly is a market out there for the likes of RM, Ranger and WinSuite however all three are considerably more expensive than a vanilla system. In a time of financial squeeze, there just isn't the cash available. It would be interesting to do a poll and see what the ratio of RM, Ranger, WinSuite, vanilla systems (and others).

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