Government Awards Lucrative School ICT Contracts to 21 Vendors

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Following a Crown Commercial Service (CCS) announcement last autumn, data cabling and network service providers began compiling bids for contracts relating to a new information and communications technology (ICT) framework for schools. The total value of the contracts is estimated to be worth at least £300 million over the next four years. Vendors were informed of their winning bid on March 24, according to CRN.

The new ICT framework is intended to be a replacement of the current BECTA (British Educational and Communications and Technology Agency) framework that was slated for closure back in 2011. Converting to a new framework will require a complete overhaul of networking hardware, software, data cabling, and systems management.

The 21 vendors chosen will spend the next four years completely re-implementing network operations in the schools. Some infrastructure and hardware may end up being re-purposed under the new configuration, but much of it will be completely replaced to take advantage of new technology. Between now and the end of the decade, schools will be undergoing a full range of physical and virtual network installation procedures.

Coordination of Contractors

The biggest challenge ahead of the CCS and the schools is to coordinate all of the vendors to make sure work is completed correctly and on time. With a project this large, this is no minor task. It starts with the contracts awarded for network design, inasmuch as the new system must be fully designed before it can be implemented. The design stage is followed by any necessary demolition and dismantling work.

The next, and arguably most complicated, step is the installation of data cabling. Copper cabling may be used in some cases while fibre-optic is chosen in others. It is a matter of choosing the best possible cabling for each application within the network. Installation of the cabling must all be coordinated to ensure the work is completed correctly the first time.

Lastly will be the implementation of networking hardware and software. If the designers and installers have done their job correctly, things will be as simple as deploying hardware, installing the necessary software, and implementing and testing the system. However, rarely do things go so smoothly.

Both the schools and the CCS should be prepared for plenty of challenges throughout the process. They will be relying on the technical expertise and quality control systems of all vendors to ensure proper network implementation. Everyone from cable installers to IT engineers will have to be at their best if the project is to be completed with minimal disruption.

Preparing Future Professionals

This ICT project from the CCS provides a perfect illustration of what we do at TNS Europe. We are training the next generation of network professionals capable of carrying out this sort of work. Each of our training programmes adheres to the latest standards for data cabling, network installation and testing, etc. Upon completion of training and certification, our students are more than ready to contribute their knowledge and skills to the networking industry.

What the CCS is doing in the schools is just one small portion of the ever-evolving networking industry. As such, the future looks bright for anyone interested in a career in information technology and networking. From communications cabling to network engineering, TNS Europe can provide the training you need.

Sources:

1.CRN – http://www.channelweb.co.uk/crn-uk/news/2401367/vars-awarded-place-on-gbp300m-schools-ict-framework

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