A decade ago, school networks were a number of computers in one room. Now that the trend is for distributed networks linking terminals in the library, staff room and offices, better management systems are needed. Information access and distribution, both inside and outside the school, has become the raison d'etre for school networks.
ICON5, the network operating system from ICL, aims to reduce network administration time and provide a secure learning environment. Based on Microsoft's NT Server, ICON5 is the first in the schools networking market to use a browser as the user interface. This allows you to access your individual, tailored desktop from anywhere on the network.
Only the required files and tasks appear in the browser window, helping students focus on their tasks. A toolbar holds any applications, such as a word processor. There is also a restricted version of the Windows file manager that allows students to manage their files, but prevents any attempts to run software from the floppy drive or change configuration files. Network administration is straightforward and can be carried out from any Windows NT network station.
The ICL system also has built-in monitoring functions that network managers can use to identify peaks of use and to monitor an individual's entitlements. The manager can also give management rights to other staff so they can manage access for their own classes. Software monitoring is also included, alerting the network manager if software use exceeds that for which the school is licensed. Features like this can be vital planning tools for school IT strategy. ICON5 is available with Microsoft Office and provides all the facilities a school needs to manage the use of networked resources, including CDs, the school intranet and Internet access.
Xemplar's Matrix network creates tailor-made solutions for individual schools. A typical Matrix will incorporate network computers as well as Acorn and Apple applications. It can incorporate Internet access, intranet use and a "curriculum toolbox". Xemplar stresses the need for well-developed networks in and beyond schools so they can use the national grid.
The latest version of RM's successful network operating system, RM Connect 2.3, will also be on show at BETT '99. It addresses both user interface and management issues, as well as community networks, and thus allows schools to become nodes of the learning grid.
RM claims that, compared with commercial network offerings, Connect 2.3 saves considerable management time - adding 300 users, for example, takes about five minutes on a 1,000-user network with 100 PCs, compared with one week for a commercial network.
Schools using Connect 2.3 can also set up an intranet to enable secure communications between staff, pupils and parents, and give all staff and pupils an email address. These features, combined with Connect 2.3 CD-Rom networking capability and connections to RM Eduweb and Living Library, provide an information and communications-rich environment to cope with the strategic ICT aspirations of any school or college.
* BETT CONNECTIONS
ICL stand E40 Tel www.icles.com
RM stand D50 E50 SN6 01235 826000 www.eduweb.co.uk
Xemplar stand E34 F34 01223 724724 www.xemplar.co.uk