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Virtual Learning Platforms Thread, Firefly - Setup advice in Technical; We have now purchased firefly and ready to run the installation. Are you running everything on one drive or have ...
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    Firefly - Setup advice

    We have now purchased firefly and ready to run the installation.

    Are you running everything on one drive or have you split into the OS and Data?

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    Firefly - Setup advise

    The default installation is in program files but the data resources are on a separate drive.

    This is how we have don't it.

    Oh, and it's all running in a VM.

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    SQL on the separate drive also?

    How much storage are you using for your resources?

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    ass17's Avatar
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    SQL is default installation also.

    Currently we are up to 10GB in resource files

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    rpettit (11th June 2014)

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    I have installed everything on a separate drive to the OS I have allocated it 300gb, we have our first training session on Monday. We also run it in a vm so I can increase space as required. I know one school is using about 12gb after 6months with year 7 only approx 150 students.

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    Our Firefly install is on it's own machine, nothing special, SSD, Intel due core, 4gb ram and SQL is already running on another server as we already had WCBS MIS running.

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    Hi both,

    Sorry to dig up your thread, but:

    We've just undertaken a quote for Firefly and they are saying that there is a "compulsory" £2000 training/installation/setup charge (i.e. they won't sell us the software without first going through branding meetings and doing the MIS integration, etc. themselves) on top of the software install price. They won't sell us just the software, without this "training" charge (and so we can't install pre-summer without paying it AND scheduling such training). We're normally quite happy to take on any such things in-house, but that wasn't an option, apparently.

    Given your comments above, were you somehow able to skirt this? And do you have a contact at the company that may help?

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    ass17's Avatar
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    Yes we had it and it was very much worth it, you will only realise this after.

    Don't worry, just pay it, start Fireflying as soon as possible!!

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    I'm not questioning the value - just that the price of my quote doubled overnight for an "installation" service that I was then told was an "integration" service that then became a "branding / templating" service that then became a "user training" service. And apparently, WHATEVER it is, it's "compulsory" if I just want to test the software in a VM ready for a September deployment (we're happy to buy, we're happy to train, we're just no happy to have things doubled without warning and for "compulsory" services that have a completely separate price to everything else).

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    I'll be honest with you - we ran into exactly the same scenario. We installed a VM ourselves and completed the installation, purchased a certificate and so on without the support of firefly. Firefly then came onsite for a implementation meeting (after the system was up and running) - this turned into a branding meeting and seems you do pay a lot for this service. I think the cost is justifiable if they are hosting the server in the cloud, but if you are hosting internally this 'compulsory' charge is crazy. I know this isn't of much help - we ended up paying for this one off fee, but at the expense of the parent portal which we then couldn't purchase.

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    ledow2 (30th June 2014)

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    Glad it's not just me then...

    I wouldn't mind, I just don't like the surprise charges, the dishonesty (what's the charge for, exactly? Why isn't it included in the quote for the software, or an optional extra?), the compulsory nature, etc. I can find the extra money but I'm loathe to if it's just going to result in a paid-for meeting that, actually, we'd rather skip and have done in-house on our schedule anyway (and which, like in your case, will probably be moot by the time it happens). And the head of sales at Firefly got increasingly annoyed when I asked him about it, and couldn't give me reasonable responses to questions about what it was for, why we need it now, why we can't do that separately, etc.

    It's stuff like this that taints future relationships and something like a VLE/Intranet that we're planning on using Firefly for is not something I want to start on bad footing.

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    Sorry for jumping in on this thread but as there has been a bit of confusion about our setup charge on this thread I thought it would be worth clearing up for both parties here and anyone else who may be interested. It's also never our intention to set off on a bad footing.

    We make a setup charge because of our experience working with hundreds of schools and our belief that any successful software implementation is 'not just about the software'. Also very important to any rollout is the human side - putting together a project plan, making sure staff training is considered, and also customising the platform with a school to make sure it meets the individual school's needs and branding. We involve specialist teams for all of these different aspects, including multiple onsite visits to the school as well as remote support, and these all incur a cost which we need to make sure we recoup to build a sustainable business and be here to build long term relationships with all of our clients for years to come. We don't think it would be right or honest for this to be an optional 'addon' of our offering because of how important getting these elements right are to a successful rollout.

    Part of the confusion above may be because of the range of things we pack into the setup charge. Our setup charge currently includes help with setting up your onsite installation / setup of cloud hosted installation; integration with your school's MIS; onsite planning and project management meeting; separate onsite training with staff; branding of your site with your logo and colour scheme. As I say, these will involve multiple specialists from different teams.

    Our aim is to always be very straightforward on pricing and this is a charge applied to all schools, and should always be included on any quote we give out. If you've been given a quote by a member of Firefly staff that doesn't include this, please do let me know and I'll look into it immediately.

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    dhicks (3rd July 2014)

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    I have to respect the bravery of jumping in on this post, but to me I don't see why that has to be listed separately if that's the case. In our case, nobody is really reeling at the cost of the service provided, but that they aren't optional. I don't see the point in even separating the two items (software and setup) if they, as I was told, *must* be taken together. However, what really bothered us was that when the charge was clarified, there was no clear explanation but an awful lot of excuses and no leeway. Lots of nods and agreements and then a "But we still won't take it off or even reduce it" attitude.

    To be honest, we don't want to spend time branding on Firefly at the moment because - initially - we always roll-out in-house. Installation isn't a chore. MIS integration, although helpful, is the reason we have a Data Manager, an IT team, and a support contract for MIS software. For a while, Firefly will be nothing more than our Intranet, and then move to resources for our boarding pupils, until we decide to deploy it outside to parents (which is the point at which, and not before, we'd be interested in such services). Bringing in that many people, in what is an approved summer project for us, is just delay and repetition of in-house skills. We considered Firefly to be a deployment that we were familiar with and comfortable with the internal workings that we could deploy rapidly, hand over to the IT teaching staff (who are responsible for our Intranet and various portals and run their own Sharepoint servers and VM's), have them start the transition over the summer and look towards full external deployment when we were comfortable with it.

    For us, the real blocker are the conditions attached to certain finance arrangements that back a huge IT roll-out this summer. They make specific restrictions on how much hardware, software and "other services" are catered for and where items can be listed in the budget (I think mainly it's about the reclaim value to the various banks if they ever need to recoup their loss, they just can't recoup "services"). As such, tying the two items actually stops us buying.

    For reference, Frog were perfectly happy to strike all such charges without even thinking about it. They provide a quote with their software, and they have listed entirely optional training, setup and integration charges if we decide to exercise them (which we would intend to do, at the right juncture). But I'm not as familiar with their software and don't have people already championing it to me on our staff. Hell, they were willing to supply a pre-fab VM image (which they normally only do for larger secondaries, and had to specifically check the possibility with their tech teams), at a competitive price, and would be able to send me it tomorrow if I got the go-ahead. I've held off on their recent calls while we try to find ways around it.

    I'd also like to say that our IT strategic consultant is highly experienced with Firefly and the setup of it, theming, branding, installation, reinstallation, MIS integration, etc. - they've done it at several schools, from scratch and on reinstalls / rebrandings, and are greatly embarrassed that their recommendation has caused such bad will with the school within minutes of first contact. I have to say that the "Head of Sales" that I spoke to was positively hostile at the suggestion that we might want to do things ourselves, and my consultant colleague was similarly annoyed at their attitude.

    To state my position, I've already sold Firefly to the teaching side of the IT staff and the SMT. Backtracking now will be an embarrassment and a shame, hence why I'm battling on to find a way to get it deployed. We've sent staff to several schools where it's been deployed and could play with the real thing and they all think it's fabulous. Our IT Consultant's experience was relayed to us as positively glowing for the software and its capabilities. However, the experience we received on first contact was enough to put a stopper in our deployment plans for Firefly for this summer. My Bursar and consultant are now suggesting against the software, fearing similar future hostility. As noted above, we're looking into alternatives.

    Given the opportunity, I'd still prefer to deploy Firefly - it's what we've promised and what we've demonstrated - but the experience has tainted myself, my IT strategic consultant, and my Bursar to the point that I actively sought out allies on these boards, and looked for assistance to see if they was some way around this.

    The price we were quoted for software, we're happy with. We'd just like to pay that, get the software, and do what we like with it - and most importantly see what we can make it do rather than be dependent on an outside design service like many schools get trapped into with any kind of CMS system. I don't think that's an unusual, or unreasonable, request. That's how we work. That's what we do as a school. We like to work our way. We rarely meet obstacles doing so.

    Of course, no project on this scale would happen without staff training at some point, etc. but that's not where we're at - and not what we want to buy at the moment, and honestly and truly not what we can slip into a random line on our budget (I've spent a week conversing with our Bursar over this exact issue, and they cannot budge in some areas and are unwilling to cull in others if the attitude we've received so far is all that awaits us in the future - especially if we are going to be a "niche case" in your userbase). It doesn't help that other companies are quite happy to strike those portions without even blinking an eye, and that we've got in-house staff who have experience at other schools with the same software.

    I'd love to use this software, from what I've seen and heard from colleagues at other schools (and the comments above), it's worth it. But I can't buy it without pseudo-optional things that we don't want, can't pay for, and which would only delay our deployment. I don't see how that's building long-term relationships with customers.

    Let me buy your software!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ledow2 View Post
    I can find the extra money but I'm loathe to if it's just going to result in a paid-for meeting that, actually, we'd rather skip and have done in-house on our schedule anyway (and which, like in your case, will probably be moot by the time it happens). And the head of sales at Firefly got increasingly annoyed when I asked him about it, and couldn't give me reasonable responses to questions about what it was for, why we need it now, why we can't do that separately, etc.
    My experience with Firefly so far has been that they are very good at responding to queries and helping with setup / installation issues. I'm mostly working from a technical point of view, though, I assume the bursar simply approved the training / branding fee (and for us it was completly appropriate to have some help come in to get things set up). Compared with my experience with other VLEs in the past, who treated any kind of technical question about the VLE with surprise / confusion / blank expressions, Firefly have been great. Their sales department could be a bit clearer about total costs of the system, though - after we'd decided to go for on-site installation we figured out we'd need a license (and CALs) for SQL Server. That's mostly our issue to sort out, but Firefly could have pointed that out beforehand, just so we had a clearer comparission of total costs.

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    Thank you for the kind comments and I appreciate your frustration.

    Just to answer a couple of your questions we separate the charges on the quote simply because one is a one-off and the other is recurring. Both will always appear on any quote that we give out. Our planning and training meetings should never delay a deployment because we fully respect the school's internal time constraints and plans and often schools install immediately and then schedule in a planning meeting and then training at times that suit them. So you would absolutely be able to install immediately on signing up and schedule in a planning meeting to suit you.

    Thank you for sharing further details about your financial constraints; I'll make sure we're in touch to see what we can do to help. We are purely interested in successful, long term school deployments, even at the expense (perhaps unusually!) of just closing the next sale, and I'm sorry if this has come across as inflexible or defensive - that is never our intention.

  19. Thanks to JoeMathewson from:

    dhicks (3rd July 2014)

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