Why I went back to Community Connect by Chris Box, Network Manager at King Edward VI Community College, Totnes
King Edward VI Community College specialises in performing arts for ages 11-18. Chris Box, their Network Manager, previously worked at a school with a Community Connect 4 network before moving to KEVICC which had a Windows network and standard Microsoft management tools. Chris recommended that they move to CC4 in order to improve the reliability and performance of their ICT provision after seeing the difference that it made at his last school.
Arriving at King Edward VI Community College
When Chris arrived at KEVICC he found that their network was "not good for our users, which included 20 minute logons. Plus it was very locked down and wasn't very flexible. CC4 allowed me to remove some restrictions so that I could now quickly change user policies for different groups of users. With a plain network a lot of time was consumed doing low value admin tasks. CC4 streamlines a lot of this meaning that time can be better spent on more productive projects."
Chris had faith that RM would be able to deliver a better network and set about migrating to CC4 last summer. CC4 was brought in alongside their plain network and both existed in parallel for a short while. Their RM Project Manager undertook a lot of work pre-summer so that there was as much time as possible to complete migration over the holidays. "My reputation was on the line and the RM implementation team really understood this. I knew that RM could really react quickly and deliver."
What was Chris looking to achieve for King Edward VI Community College?
"I was hoping to get a network that was fit for purpose and one that would enable teaching and learning. I was hoping for a network that would allow students and staff alike to enjoy using a computer, that would provide a safe and secure environment and give people something they can feel proud of. RM absolutely delivered all of these objectives."
Chris is now pushing even further with CC4 and wants to introduce Windows 8. They could not have even contemplated this with the old network as it was working so poorly and providing such a poor experience. "I was scared to make any changes! A GPO update could take an hour!" Chris says. An indirect benefit that Chris has found is that he can now free up time to add value in other areas such as focusing on their wireless system so that students can now use their own devices and access their documents online through RM Portico. "I wouldn't even consider this with the old network. Students and staff are absolutely more engaged and with the ICT working properly it removes a potential barrier to teaching and learning."
So having gone from a CC4 School to a plain Microsoft Windows network and then implemented CC4, would Chris ever go back?
"No definitely not" Chris says "I would never take CC4 out and put a plain Microsoft Windows vanilla in. With CC4 it's easy to get used to things just working and when you do have any problems it's easy to think you're better off without it. You get complacent about how difficult it is to administer a full Microsoft Windows network without the right tools. It is impossible for one Network Manager to come close to replicating that amount of investment in building and maintaining a working Microsoft Windows network"
Chris is finding that staff can now effectively use IT and have faith that what they have will just work. He cites the example that staff weren't using Smartboards because they didn't have confidence in the computers they were connected to. With the new network these can now be used to their full potential and ICT is at the centre of all lessons.
Chris says "Coming into work with CC4 is a complete different experience. I know it will be working and I have confidence knowing that RM will always be there to help. As a Network Manager you frequently find things you struggle with and can't do. Having a partnership with RM I know that their support team are able and willing to help."
"If starting afresh I would always go CC4. The time involved in configuring a plain network is significant. I feel like I'm on a journey with RM, seeing lots of great new things coming through such as RM Unify, with its single sign on bringing the benefits of Office 365 and Google Docs. RM Orbit is also great. I have visibility of exciting new things on the roadmap and I have faith that the direction RM is going in is right for us and good for us. We're committed to this relationship."
Chris Box - Network Manager at King Edward VI Community College
If you would like to find out more about RM Community Connect please visit www.rm.com/communityconnect