What I meant by business was any other business not associated with education.Originally Posted by monkeyx
I know ranger does sap network resources, but there are several things the package does which are bloody useful. If I could find other programs that would let me do that same, then I would probably use them, but as of yet, nothing else has come to light.
Yes there is a skills shortage in schools, mainly because most are reluctant to pay a decent salery, and even more reluctant to train their support staff fearing as soon as they're trained, they'lll bugger off somewhere else. Quoting the fact that teachers used to manage network was me trying to get across my opinion as to WHY we now have these companies offering these sorts of packages exclusively to schools. Now teachers aren't involved in the management of the network, I suspect the market place for such packages is falling rapidly.
Agree, using these products could limit your ability to learn standard OS features while carrying out your job, but if like me you are interested in doing this, you would take the time and trouble to learn these skills regardless. It depends whether you look on your role in the school as a job or a career. e.g One friend of mine is network manager at a school, but is not interested in a career in ICT, therefore has no interest in learning all the technicalities involved behind the scenes. These sorts of tools suit him fine because they allow his to do him job effectively and easily without having to learn everything that's actually happening.
It's basically a matter of what you prefer, vanilla network designed by yourself, or a package designed, provided and supported by an external company. Just because one school chooses one route, and another chooses a diffferent one doesn't make it right or wrong.
just read my reply back, came across a bit wrong, sorry! It's just a classic illusration of the fact that there never has been and never will be a single solution that suits everyone!
Hi RobertOriginally Posted by rlculver
I am in a similar situation to you, my primary school is looking at moving the ICT Suite to a larger room, we are also getting a new server and expanding the network.
I have worked with Vanilla w2k3 for the past 3 years and although our network is very stable, I have not been able to use many of the features of w2k3 because I have no formal training on it, nor the time to teach myself enough - I only work 12 hours a week, support over 50 PCs, 12 Interactive Whiteboards plus projectors and teacher laptops etc.
I am insisting that a Network Management System is included in our network upgrade and have had two companies in to demonstrate and quote - RM and Ergo. I have someone coming from Ranger tomorrow and then I will make the decision. At the moment RM are favourite.
Reasons to pay for a Network Management System - in my view:
1. Speed of installation - they reckon they can have the whole network up and running in 3 days. I will then need to install the software I assume, and that will involve having to create some software packages (I believe this is fairly straightforward, but this might be wishful thinking).
2. Complete solution - network up and running, support at the end of a phone, easy to manage Server, remote software installation, easy group policies etc.
3. Cost - this is where RM fall down, but having added up cost of Ranger plus Server and setup of w2k3 (which I don't feel confident to do within a sensible time period with no hiccups) and RM is not that much more in the grand scheme of things - about £3000 more. This will save the school much time and money in training someone to manage vanilla w2k3 (I have not attended any training on it in 3 yrs) or employing someone who can.
Basically, to cut a long story short, it is all very well sticking to vanilla and all its wonderful features but if you don't know what you are doing, get something that will help.
If job satisfaction for you is figuring out complex problems and solving them, plus learning everything you can about w2k3 and being able to configure servers with you eyes shut - maybe you should go down that route.
However if job satisfaction is running a network with the minimum of fuss, which does everything you want it to do, enabling you to get on with the hundred other things that you are expected to do, then look at some sort of management solution.
I recommend you get people in to demonstrate and then decide - you can still go vanilla if that is what you want. You can always get someone in to configure the server and maybe give you some instruction to get you started.
This all assumes the school has the money for a NMS - our quote for RM is around 10k for new server and 100 machine network 8O
hope this is of some help. Good luck in your project. I have spent many hours awake at night thinking about all the options, worrying about making the wrong and very costly decision
Sorry for essay.
My thoughts here are why go down the route of buying into a service like RM in particular in view of the BSF plans to integrate everone into a managed service where your network will effectively be controlled from outside of the school in a server farm or data centre.
I've worked in an RM school in the past and ended up removing it due to the poor quality service response times, poor quality equipment and slow update of such. This does not mean that their service has improved in recent years. In particular I like their RM One workstations which are robust but I would always think twice again before bringing in a managed service.
Alas I believe this choice is being taken away from us again with BSF through P4S (Partnerships for Schools) who are tasked with guiding LAs into this managed service environment. I'm worried that we will end up with the same scenario as we did with RM but hope for the sake of the schools and our customers the staff and students, that it does not go this way.
I would make some enquires about BSF before spending the fortune of RM or any other service.
As someone who has been involved in IT for over 20 years, I am going to come down on the side of RM here. While many people advocate that a school is a business, its not, its a school. Resources are limited as we all know. A business I consult for employing 350 people has 15 IT support staff and a dedicated support line. It has a custom built server room and recently invested over £400,000 in new equipment. A school I work at part time has 350 users and can only dream of resources like that. There is me and my part time assistant to manage the entire network. When I first went there from the commercial sector, I wondered what this RM thing was doing sitting in front of my active directory and locking down GPO's. The reason its there is because probably 90% of schools cannot aafford to emply an IT professional on 50k per annum and have several assistants to back them up. Its not a skills shortage but a monetary one. While IT is critical in schools, they simply cannot afford the competaive rates to employ IT professionals from the private sector. RM put a nice simple interface in front of an other wise scary environment to allow the technicians etc to effectively run a network with backup from a huge company with excellent support. A vanilla network in a school requires resources that the school cannot afford. I note with interest that bigger schools are setting up vanilla networks and offering the resources out to smaller schools. I think this is a terrible idea but one that many smaller schools will consider as it will certainly be far more cost effective than employing people like me, but of course a lot less flexible as well. RM do a good job and CC4 has many improvements that will make it even better. Sure there are challenges. Show me a network that does not.
Why is it a terrible idea?I note with interest that bigger schools are setting up vanilla networks and offering the resources out to smaller schools. I think this is a terrible idea but one that many smaller schools will consider as it will certainly be far more cost effective than employing people like me, but of course a lot less flexible as well
And why will they be less flexible?
Dreaming of resources like that? My vanilla network is less expensive than RM and is not only robust but flexible and up to date. I have 2000 users on a 3 to 1 ratio students to computers (soon to become 2 to 1) and have only recently employed a technician to work alongside me. If the network is built on solid footings then there should not be a need to emphasise "entire" network as if it is some scary monstrosity. RM is not a bad company but unfortunately in years gone by its reputation was not good. Support was poor and call out fees were astronomical ( I was quoted £750 for a guy to come out from Scotland!!) I know they have improved somewhat since then but I fail to see why it is wrong to have vanilla networks in schools and also that it would be a terrible idea to share out resources to feeder or primary schools, and why do they need to employ people like you when there are many professionals out there that would commit full time to the role and provide a very good service.A school I work at part time has 350 users and can only dream of resources like that. There is me and my part time assistant to manage the entire network
Why does a school have to spend so much money on a greedy IT professional wanting to take £50000. I don't earn that much and many of my colleagues with vast amounts of experience, qualifications and commitment to duty do not either. It is only because you have worked in the corporate game for so long that you earn so much. Yes we could probably also earn high figure salaries should we wish to be on call and strapped to a coroprate belt buckle all hours but some of like to work hard for the time we are here and provide a very good and often immediate service when and where its needed at no extra cost and no call out fees.The reason its there is because probably 90% of schools cannot aafford to emply an IT professional on 50k per annum and have several assistants to back them up
It's not that difficult to build a network, if its done right, and its not that difficult to maintain it if you are conscientious and committed. I put a lot of emphasis on service to my staff and pupils and they like that, they are, after all our customers!!
Thanks for all the comments!
I have just setup a windows 2003 server at home and are plodding though a book I purchased, as recommended on this website.
Overall, do you think I should go for CC3 or do my own vanilla install?
Vanilla is my view, but you will get others that say CC3, its swings and roundabouts and you will never get a clear cut answer
We've bought in Ranger - yes, its an expensive start up cost - although this was all absorbed before the school had its own internal IT Support.
We've carried on paying for it year after year - the ongoing costs are fairly minimal when compared to the costs of sims or similar (about £1k a year).
Given a new situation today with a new network, im not sure its the route we'd take. We're all fairly ofay with GPOs etc - just we have Ranger, and its useful and time saving - things like bulk creation of user accounts. We've also got Ranger Remote Control in our Discreet IT Suites and it proves quite a useful tool.
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