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November, 2010 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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November, 2010

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    The Oxfordshire ICT Schools Annual Schools Conference 2010

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    Last week I spoke with Mark Reynolds, our Schools Business Manager, at the Oxfordshire ICT Conference for schools. Unlike some of these kind of events, they had a large and growing audience, partly through extending the invitation to school governors too. It meant that there was quite a mixed audience, and plenty of diverging discussions in the break.

    I’d agreed to give a talk looking beyond the here and now, and unconstrained by the uncertainties of policy and funding.  It was a look over the horizon at the future,  telling a story of how people may work in the future, and the technology and learning implications. I  used our ‘Productivity Vision’ video, which looks at the workplace of 2019, and then continued by deconstructing the technology behind the video – to look at what exists now – either in research labs or in real life - and how the components might build to get to the vision described for the future. Unfortunately, I can’t share the whole presentation (I used a multimedia, interactive piece of software to present it), but I can share the short video that I used as the introduction, which is the starting point for the story I told.

    You can view the video on our Officelabs Envisioning website, and you can also watch a video as Ian Sands, Director of Envisioning, steps through the video scene by scene and describes in greater depth the story behind the people and technology on display.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Live@edu takes off for RM's customers

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    The Live@edu service, which is our cloud-hosted email and collaboration service*, has been chosen as the standard schools email system by a growing number of local authorities and Regional Broadband Consortia. Two years ago London Grid for Learning chose it, and the DCSF highlighted the potential for £11M of savings through using it. And the list of local authorities keeps growing. Of course, it's not all about somebody deciding what's best for schools - there are also plenty of schools which sign up for Live@edu directly, and just start using it.

    There are now 10,000 education establishments - schools, colleges and universities - using Live@edu, with 11 million active students around the world.

    The other thing that has been happening is that ICT suppliers have been building Live@edu into their existing hosted services. Not only does it help them to reduce their costs, but it also means that they can provide an enhanced service to schools.

    RM have just announced our partnership, to bring Live@edu to the 4.5 million users of the RM Learning Platform. As Billy McNeil puts it:

    "This is an exciting development for our customers. As well as developing our own cloud services for schools and authorities, the learning platform is built using standards that enable us to integrate a variety of innovative technologies and services that benefit our customers. Live@edu was the obvious choice - it complements our existing services, and in a period where there is immense pressure on school budgets, free email and storage are extremely welcome."

    Once complete, integration will bring a number of benefits. The RM Learning Platform identity management system will enable schools to choose to automatically create Live@edu accounts, reducing administration overheads, while staff and students will benefit from single sign-on between the two systems - no need to remember another username and password.

    We've obviously worked closely with RM for many years, and this new step is another good example of the benefits that schools get from the way we work in partnership. In effect, it enhances the services schools get, without adding to their bill.

    For more info, take a look at RM's Press Release. And for more on Live@edu, take a look at our UK Education website

    * Live@edu offers each user Outlook Live email including a 10GB inbox, a calendar, Forefront antispam and antivirus filtering, and optional services including a personal 25GB online Skydrive, instant messaging, video chat, mobile e-mail, Office Web Applications and document sharing.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    How Microsoft uses the Windows Server 2008 R2 features to enhance our own security

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    The Microsoft IT team publish case studies of how we've used our own products within our own infrastructure - sharing their real-life experiences.

    This month there's a case study about the way that we've implemented the security features in Windows Server 2008 R2, along with Windows 7 on the desktop - and the benefits that we've seen so far. It covers a wide range of things, including:

    • DirectAccess to replace a mixed bag of remote access VPN technologies *
    • Network Access Protection (NAP) to manage the integrity and compliance of devices accessing the network
    • BranchCache to increase network responsiveness for remote offices
    • AppLocker to prevent unlicensed software, unsupported apps and malware from running

    When you look through the detail, you'll see that there are big similarities between our IT infrastructure and a typical education IT system. I've taken the following statements from the case study - don't they look similar to a typical large university network?

    • "Multiple remote access methods…led to end user confusion"
    • "…the team could only manage mobile computers when users connected to a VPN or came to the office."
    • "With about 71,000 highly mobile users [we] needed a new way to measure and improve the corporate security policy compliance…including desktop computers, roaming portable computers, visiting portable computers, and unmanaged home computers."
    • "…the trend toward data centralisation places more content in data centers that are remote from branch offices. A very large (and increasing) number of remote sites are connected to these data centers. These remote sites range in size from very small (less than 10 users) to very large (greater than 5000 users)."

    And although the scale is different, the challenges are also similar to colleges and many schools.

    If you're looking for a good guide to help you think about your network security strategy, which not only makes your network more secure, but also helps improve the end-user experience, then can I recommend the case study to you?

    Read the full story about how Microsoft uses Windows Server 2008 R2 to enhance network security.

    * As an end-user of our IT systems, I can definitely say that using DirectAccess has been a vast improvement over a normal VPN solution. It has made the security virtually invisible to me, and hugely increased my remote experience, especially when I'm working from home or a wireless hotspot. The biggest reason is that it doesn't get in the way of normal internet traffic, and invisibly enables the intranet/corporate network access I need.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Your complete guide to virtualisation as a free download

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    Let me make it absolutely clear - I am not a virtualisation expert. But I have heard enough network managers in schools, colleges and universities talking about their virtualisation projects to know that it's very important to their ICT infrastructure - whether that's reducing cost, cutting carbon emissions, managing their workload, or improving their network reliability and service levels.

    But I've also talked with other IT managers who've convinced me that it's specialist knowledge that isn't widely shared. After all, if you're not quite sure what the difference is between server virtualisation and desktop virtualisation, or whether 'virtualisation' and 'moving to the cloud' are the same thing, then it can be awkward to ask. (A bit like when I sat in a meeting with a school, and was too embarrassed to ask what 'assessment for learning' meant. It helped later when I discovered that nobody in the meeting knew, but they all thought everybody else did.)

    imageThe answer is to find the perfect reference guide, written in plain English. And for virtualisation I have found it!

    It is absolutely massive - 450 pages. And it has only one subject - virtualisation, virtualisation, virtualisation. But the chapter titles tell you that it's just what you need:

    • Chapter 1 - Why Virtualisation?
    • Chapter 2 - Server Virtualisation
    • Chapter 3 - Local Desktop Virtualisation
    • Chapter 4 - Remote Desktop Virtualisation
    • Chapter 5 - Virtualisation Management
    • Chapter 6 - Cloud Computing

    And it's got a brilliant index too, so that next time somebody says "failover clustering", you can look it up slyly on your laptop, and join the conversation.

    So if you  want to learn more about the latest Microsoft virtualisation technologies, so that you can differentiate your Hyper-V from your Remote Desktop Services, then this is the job. And it also covers Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization, Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, and Microsoft’s private and public cloud computing platforms including Windows Azure. (No wonder it needs 450 pages.)

    And best of all, the PDF is free, so stick it on your desktop now:

    Learn More

    Download it free: Understanding Microsoft Virtualization Solutions: From the Desktop to the Datacenter, 2nd Edition

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Webinar recordings for download - System Center for Education

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    Richard Lane, our trusty team techie, has been running a series of System Center webinars, specifically for education customers in the UK. Although we've had over a hundred attendees at many of them, I know that there are others that can't join at the time of the event. So we've now made the recordings of these webinars available.

    Simply go to our Webinar download page, and you can listen and watch in your own time.

    So you don't have to keep an eagle eye on the page for updates, I'll mention new webinar downloads here too.

    Learn MoreFind out which webinars are available for download

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Saving money by saving power - an action plan

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    Last week I spoke to a group of schools about money saving strategies (based on this info), and I do plan to shortly record the whole presentation, so that I can share it. But when I got to the bit about making sure that you do something about desktop power savings, there were a few in the audience who were against the idea. Things like "Well, we tried it, and the head made us abandon it", and "I know it will save money, but the teachers found ways to get around it".

    But there's a four figure saving possible, every year - so perhaps I can share some advice as Four Steps to Save Your School £10,000:

    1. Go down to your local DIY shop and buy a power monitor plug. They cost a tenner, and they'll let you monitor all kinds of devices.
    2. Plug it into one of your classroom computers for a week, so that it can tell you how much it costs per week/day/hour.
    3. Walk around the school at 5 o'clock and count the number of unused computers that are switched on.
    4. Work out what it's costing your school per year for unused computers left switched on
    5. Go and see the head teacher with your back-of-the-envelope stats

    Although there are lots of other case studies, you may be interested to read how we've rolled out power saving settings within Microsoft (and if you think your teachers are hard to please with technology, imagine what it's like providing IT services for 100,000+ IT geeks).

    Our IT team at Microsoft have recently implemented a worldwide power management strategy across 165,000 desktop and laptop computers used within our business right around the world, to contribute to our goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 30% over five years.

    The benefits that they've calculated are:

    • 27% drop in power used by managed desktop computers
    • 12.33 kilowatt hours saving per desktop per month
    • £8 to £9 saving per desktop computer per year

    imageIn the case study, the framework of power settings are discussed, along with the practical implications and the lessons learnt. For example, the first method used was a simple policy setting on setting up a new user/computer, but they found that 80% of users simply permanently overrode the setting within 30 days. The second method was to have an extended 60-minute time-to-sleep setting, which would be refreshed regularly, so that even if the user changed it temporarily (eg to stay on for a presentation) it would reset again later.

    The team relied very heavily on System Center Configuration Manager, which meant that they could apply policies and measure the impact of them over time. The chart on Power Environmental Impact is one of the examples from the pilot. Having data displayed in this way allows you to demonstrate the savings impact to your senior management team, and calculate reduction in your carbon footprint or energy bills.
    In your school, you may not need to use System Center - you can make a start simply for free by changing some of the default power settings when you deploy new computers . But if you've got hundreds of computers, it might be worth starting to calculate just how much money you might save with a much more comprehensive power management strategy.

    Learn MoreRead the full Microsoft IT case study on power savings with Windows

     

    More ICT Money Saving TipsYou may also find the main Top ICT Money Saving Tips article useful, to learn more about ways that ICT can help save money in school budgets

    Or find all related articles on this blog

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Webinars for school network managers - coming up this month

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    We've had about 300 attendees so far for the first three webinars for school network managers, and we've got five more coming up on System Center for network management, and then Richard is changing the topics and we're heading towards some cloud-services for network management (intrigued?).

    Here's the next ones in the System Center series of webinars:

    System Center Essentials 2010

    For schools managing less than 500 PCs and 50 servers, System Center Essentials (SCE) provides a comprehensive management solution where perhaps the entire suite might be a little excessive.

    SCE provides a unified solution with a single console for managing a broad range of tasks across your physical and virtual servers, clients, hardware, software, and IT services.

    Tuesday November 9th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 11th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

    System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) lets you see how your IT system is running, from your servers right down to individual desktop computers enabling Operations and IT Management teams to identify, and resolve issues affecting the health of distributed IT services – before they become problems. SCOM can monitor both your Microsoft on non-Microsoft environments and therefore provide a unified solution across the entire campus.

    Microsoft partner Inframon will be presenting this session and will be available to answer any of your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 18th 10:30-11:30

    System Center Service Manager 2010

    System Center Service Manager is a Service Desk solution providing incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management. By unifying knowledge across the System Center suite, Service Manager helps you adapt to your eve changing network requirements while reducing cost and helping you fix problems quickly.

    This session, presented by our partner Silversands, will provide a good overview of the key functionality of the product – and give you chance to get your questions answered.

    Tuesday November 23rd 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 25th 10:30-11:30

    Windows InTune

    This webinar will give you a glimpse of the future of cloud based PC management. Windows InTune is currently in beta, and provides a cloud-based system that includes PC management, malware protection, windows upgrades and remote control. This could potentially be a great solution if you are managing a number of organisations, or distributed IT systems (for example, one network manager managing multiple primary schools, or remote university departments or learning outreach centres of a college)

    Tuesday November 30th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday December 2nd 10:30-11:30

    Register for the series of webinars for school network managers

    You can register for the whole series, or individual live meetings here

    Learn MoreSign up here

     

    The System Center Configuration Manager 2007 session has been rescheduled - you can now register separately for the System Center Configuration Manager webcasts – 16th or 18th November between 2 and 3pm

     

    And there's a bonus for attending…
    Richard has also got his hands on a limited number of full DVD sets of the Microsoft Management Summit 2010, which include:
    • Keynotes
    • Breakout Tracks
    • Hands-on Lab manuals
    • Supporting Materials from Microsoft and Event Sponsors
    • Videos recorded during the even

    On each Live Meeting he'll be giving one set away to a random attendee - but you've got to be at the Live Meeting to get into the draw.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Need some support for deploying Windows 7?

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    Although I'm afraid I can't offer to send you a top-techie from Microsoft to help you with rolling out Windows 7 in your school, I can offer a good second best, thanks to the TechNet team. They got together with some of the product and support gurus on Windows 7, and created a big batch of videos on Windows 7  for IT Managers, containing very practical advice for people deploying Windows 7.

    Videos for IT Managers header

    There's a long list of topics covered in the E-Learning Series:

    • Preparing for Windows 7
    • Bare Metal Installation
    • USB Installation
    • Upgrading from Windows Vista
    • Migration From Windows XP to Windows 7
    • Creating a Dual-Boot System
    • Basic Windows 7 Deployment
    • Using Windows Deployment Services
    • Compatibility - Evaluation and Remediation
    • Offline Image Servicing
    • Configuring Devices in Windows 7
    • Configuring Internet Explorer 8
    • Software Restriction Policies
    • Network Connectivity
    • Accessing Local and Network Resources
    • Remote Management with Windows PowerShell
    • BitLocker and BitLocker To Go
    • DirectAccess
    • Offline Files

    You can view them all on the TechNet site, or download them for offline use or to view on your commute.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    This week’s webinars for school network managers 16th-18th November

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    There  are a couple of webinars during this week that if you have time in your diary, come along and take a listen.

    System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 webinar

    System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) lets you see how your IT system is running, from your servers right down to individual desktop computers enabling Operations and IT Management teams to identify, and resolve issues affecting the health of distributed IT services – before they become problems. SCOM can monitor both your Microsoft on non-Microsoft environments and therefore provide a unified solution across the entire campus.

    Microsoft partner Inframon will be presenting this session and will be available to answer any of your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 10:30-11:30
    or Thursday November 18th 10:30-11:30

    You can register for this webinar here

     

    System Center Configuration Manager 2007 webinar

    System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 has long been a favourable choice for education organisations of all sizes to comprehensively assess, deploy and update servers, clients and devices across physical, virtual, distributed and mobile environments.

    The upcoming version R3, introduces the ability to centrally monitor and control the power consumption of Windows clients, and can therefore help organisations decrease their carbon footprint and potentially realise significant cost savings on energy bills and reduce their overall environmental impact.

    In this live meeting with Microsoft Partner Dimension Data we will explore some of the key capabilities of SCCM and give you chance to ask the experts your questions.

    Tuesday November 16th 2pm-3pm
    or Thursday November 18th  2pm -3pm

     You can register for this webinar here 

     

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Microsoft Certification - Online seminars for Schools

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    If you read this article in the TES, you’ll know that more employers now look at experience levels rather than exam results alone when deciding on which candidate to employ, students need something to give them that extra edge.  Increasingly employers use their own tests to assess candidate capability and as experience in the work place can only come from the working environment, a Microsoft Certification provides opportunity where exam results alone may not.

    Microsoft Office Specialist Logo (2010)Hundreds of schools around the UK are benefiting from the building of Microsoft Certification directly into their ICT curriculum. Microsoft training and certification now generates League Table Points and is nationally accredited and mapped. Your students can gain a GCSE Grade B directly through Microsoft Certification  - even your staff and the wider community have the opportunity to be involved!

    If you have 15 minutes why not come along and attend one of our online seminars:

    •  
      • Tuesday 16th November – 14.30
      • Thursday 18th November – 14.30
      • Tuesday 23rd November – 11.00

    Register today and you’ll get to explore topics including:

    •  
      •  Microsoft Certification & National Accreditation
      • The Microsoft IT Academy Programme
      • League Table Points through Microsoft Certification
      • Microsoft Certification equivalency to GCSE Grade B
      • Online testing – so no more administration

    Places are limited to 20 attendees per seminar and are filling up very quickly.

    To register for your place please go here.

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