SIMS Annual Conference Keynote 2015

CIRWExeWcAACGubThe Capita SIMS annual conference opened with a change this year – gone was the “external host”; and instead we had a welcome return for Graham Cooper – Head of Product Strategy. Grahams opening had one key message – “where SIMS is used well in schools, it has the power to make a difference to children’s’ future”. Fitting, in a time where there is so much focus on the complete journey of a child.

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Plymouth Education IT Event

On Wednesday 11th July, I was pleased to be able to welcome collegues from the Plymouth area to a “pilot” meeting – where we could discuss and collaborate on the various challenges we faced. We were also fortunate to be joined by a number of industry specialists to offer their advice and details of emerging trends.

The event started with Paul Harris, from the Micrsosoft Schools Business Team. Paul opened with the advert for Microsoft Surface – and that is the new Microsoft Surface, the tablet/slate; not the table which used to have the same product name. The original “Surface” is now called PixelSense.

The video – and the new site – can be found here

The stirring introduction over, we moved into the Microsoft Lync managed presentation and demo – sadly Paul couldn’t join us in person. Paul talked about the forthcoming Windows 8 release – and announced the RTM in August; for Software Assurance customers this would be available nearly instantly. We were shown how Windows 8 was designed to bridge the gap between the personal device and the corporate device – one environment on both, which was everything you needed at the time. Office 365 for Education now being free was another big announcement which was discussed – and how it can encourage collaboration and efficiency. The slide deck for the presentation can be viewed here:

Next up was Chris Lim from Trustmarque Solutions – the first of two “industry insight” sessions from them. Chris presented about Processes and Procedures for the Success of IT Support. ITIL is the framework used in industry, the education sector has its own implementation of this – FITS. The slide deck can be viewed here: Attachment 14898

A break followed, then we moved into a brief discussion and presentation from yours truly about recent partnership work with Microsoft. As many have noticed, there has been a blog series on the Microsoft Schools Blog about systems implementation and change – IT Systems for the Future. The platform – HyperV; and the management system – SCCM, were both shown – and the fact that this was only part of the story when we want to talk integration. Bringing the FITS processes in, designed to bring structure; I overviewed how theses “landed” in real life. If anyone would like any further information about this; or would like a site visit – please let me know.

With all the recent talk of Academies – Terry Watts (scomis), updated us about recent changes to their support model for Schools. SIMS changes, service updates and performance were all on the agenda! A brand new training suite was also opened at their offices in Exeter two days later, where further evidence of their growing partnerships with industry players was clear.

Lunch followed, where there was plenty of opportunity to catch up with colleagues and the presentation team. There certainly seemed to be lots of collaboration and networking going on, new and long standing colleagues alike.

Sean from Smoothwall joined us to talk us though how the “Bring your own” (BYOD) agenda can be safely implemented with your systems to ensure esafety. We were shown details of the product range in brief, but the discussion centred more around the concepts of safe internet access – and the perennial filtering argument. Their slide deck can be viewed here: [Coming Soon]

Also involed were the team from Overland Storage. The change in the curriculum is having a significant impact on all our systems – with ever increasing demands on space. Digital media is becoming the defacto standard for curriculum delivery, and it is well recognised that the most inspiring content is audio and video. Overland discussed how they have seen industry deal with the same challenges – which can be equated to the increasing training and supporting literature demands. Further to this, there is then the challege of security of this data, ie backing it up. A pilot project is expected to start over the coming months with Schools backing up to eachother. A slide deck provided by the team can be viewed here: The Storage Conundrum – Plymouth IT Mgrs.pptx

Another break – and then it was back to TrustMarque for their second presentation of the day. This time, it was centred on Licensing – and how to get the most from it. Most are familiar with EES, and the benefits it has had for the UK market. Often misunderstood – Fiona talked to us about the product set available, and the ways to ensure best value. We then moved on to Adobe – and I was thrilled that Fiona was able to announce a new “EES like” model is being developed by them for the Creative Suite. This has the potential to save schools thousands – and it wont just be limited to single Schools. Confederations will be supported so long as there are “defined links” between establishments. More information will follow on this as soon as it is available from Adobe UK. For now – Fiona’s deck is available here: Attachment 14897

Lastly, it was over to Simon from Ruckus. Wireless has always been a contentious issue in Schools, ever since it was put out there as “the solution” by the media. In dense high use areas, Schools just havent been able to take advantage of it – with staff complaining of poor coverage, speed etc. Simon talked to us about what makes Ruckus different – based on its use in industry. He talked about the technology, not the product – and why wireless systems traditionally don’t work well. We were also shown the future. His slide deck will be added shortly.

I would like to thank all the Schools who gave their time to join us for what I hope was an enjoyable and informative day. Thanks must also go to all the Suppliers and Manufacturers who supported the event. Finally, a big thanks to Paul Harris from Microsoft for the Keynote; as well as the unseen names and assistants in setting the call up – Tim Bush and Mark Reynolds.


Paul Harris
Consultant Internal Schools Business Manager to Microsoft Ltd
0118 909 4437

Chris Lim
Solution Manager – Microsoft & Integrated Solutions – TrustMarque Solutions

Terry Watts
Engineer – scomis
01392 385300

Neil Cogger
Pre-Sales Manager – Overland Storage
0118 989 8027

Sean Lazenby
Education Sales Manager – Smoothwall Ltd
0113 3874 183

Fiona Gemmell
Education Specialist – TrustMarque Solutions
01904 561 663

Simon Hollister
Ruckus EMEA