I have recently started work at a London primary school as their ICT Co-ordinator and am responsible for a (growing) number of Windows PCs and Macs and very soon iPads. We will soon have over 150 machines, but I am also responsible for the ICT curriculum, the VLE, and French across the school, as well as my teaching responsibilities.
I was a software engineer/ web developer for 4 years and have a computer systems engineering degree, so I am not a total novice when it comes to this. My main constraint is time.
At the moment, we have a contract technician who visits one afternoon a week and who partly use MSIs with Windows Server, and partly visits individual machines (always for the Macs, although they are woefully under-used) to install software / fire-fight. Most machines are in a bit of a state and I am planning a school-wide rebuild.
I am considering paying for either FileWave, Absolute Manage or LanDesk (all cross-platform solutions) to aid with administration and asset management. I have received roughly equivalent quotes for FileWave and Absolute Manage, so the financial impact on the surface would seem about the same.
Unfortunately, there is a real lack of comparative reviews or evaluations online and I was hoping someone here might be able to share their experience and make some recommendations or perhaps point me in the direction of some detailed evaluations or comparative reviews. These products are fairly difficult to evaluate due to their nature, and since I have not managed a network before, there may be issues that I miss.
Factors in order of importance would be:
+ Simplicity (partly for my own benefit, partly because in the future, someone less experienced may have to take over)
+ Time (it's always at a premium, but unlike most companies with this many machines, there is no IT department in a school)
The other concern that I have is that these products may actually be overkill, since we probably install relatively little software during the course of a year, and I do have a certain amount of expertise and a limited ICT budget to play with - perhaps you might also be able to comment on this for me.
Many thanks in advance!