Frequently asked questions
Buying a school network or hosted service is a serious commitment for a school, with many technological and legal issues to consider. We want to help schools compare providers, because we know that HSS has the added services that many commercial providers will find hard to match. These are some of the questions you may want to ask before you make your decision.
"Can the service continue if our internet connection is lost?"
Of course. Your data and applications are replicated between your school and our data centre, then backed up in the data centre.
An internet connection is important for your data to be replicated regularly to our secure servers, but even without an internet link, your school can still operate perfectly well. When the internet connection is restored, the replication will simply continue where it left off.
(Some existing services - such as SAP - are still fully hosted, which means access wouldn’t be possible during a loss of internet connection.)
"What happens if my internet connection is slow?"
The replication will take longer, but you won’t notice any difference when you are working in school because you will be using data and programs stored locally, delivered over your local area network.
"Can your service grow to meet my needs?"
Absolutely. HSS is a modular service designed from the ground up to be expandable and incorporate the latest technology. As better technology becomes available, we can swap out key components to keep your system at its best.
"How will your service help me meet the demands of the curriculum?"
Many of us at Hampshire IT have worked in schools, and we know the importance of IT as a tool to deliver the curriculum. HSS allows you to make applications and resources available beyond the classroom: a whole new approach to lessons. And with our secure and reliable infrastructure, you can be confident that technology won’t let you down in the classroom.
"Does it provide disaster recovery and business continuity?"
Yes. In the event that the worst happens at your school, at least you know that your essential data and applications are backed up safely at our data centre. When you are back on your feet again, the data and applications are ready for you.
"What is virtualisation and do you offer it?"
A common definition is that virtualisation is the creation of a virtual (rather than physical) version of something, such as a server or operating system. You can have a PC running two different operating systems, for example, and it is acting as if it is two separate computers. With HSS, your servers are virtualised. In a typical primary school there will be seven virtual servers running on one physical server. This means lower costs, as there is less hardware, and more efficient use of the hardware.
"Where is my school’s data held?"
It’s replicated to our state-of-the-art, multi-million pound, award-winning data centre in Winchester. And it is stored on a server in your school.
"Does your service meet ISO27001 information security standards?"
Yes. When dealing with sensitive data such as personal details of Hampshire’s children, it’s best not to take chances. Hampshire IT’s data centre meets and exceeds ISO27001 standards for the protection and management of data.
"Does it meet procurement rules?"
Of course. As a public body spending public funds you are legally obliged to follow certain rules. You cannot buy from just anybody without considering procurement regulations. As part of Hampshire County Council, all our services meet the procurement regulations which protect your school.
"What do I get for my money?"
HSS is a totally different technical and operating solution to the ones schools have used before.
The total cost of ownership
Most schools are used to buying IT on a piecemeal basis and never see the true total cost of ownership (TCO) over, say, five years. We also often find that the cost of managing IT is hidden in the salary of staff employed to do other tasks, such as teach or manage the finances.
Understanding the TCO is essential when considering a sustainable approach to IT. The TCO of any IT solution includes hardware, software, development, maintenance, consumables and the time spent on support (both from suppliers and school staff).
In the schools which have chosen HSS so far, these costs amount to an annual per pupil spend of £128 in a secondary and £97 in a primary school.
The support provided by school staff can be hard to quantify as it is often hidden in the salary costs of a teacher or admin officer. The time spent adding a new user, installing software or maintaining backups is often lost amongst other tasks. Reclaiming this lost time can free up significant amounts of staff time for other tasks, which can contribute to improved outcomes for learners.
When you take the total cost of IT into consideration, HSS is generally able to offer savings of 10-15% over a five-year period.
And in addition, you are receiving an IT solution that is consistently delivered, with a known cost for the next five years.
A unique solution
We are very confident that on a like-for-like basis the Hosted School Service proves cost effective and is the best solution to support teaching and learning within your school. The difficulty is finding a comparison quote for HSS: there aren't many out there as they tend to be offered by the large national IT suppliers.
We appreciate that the switch from a more traditional approach to IT can expose costs that hadn’t been so visible before, but we know that when you consider your next investment in IT you will find that the Hosted School Service is a surprisingly cost effective solution.