Category: RM

HfL Broadband

I am sure many of you are aware that HfL Broadband has replaced our previous HICS service. I have been intending to update you on the renewal numbers for a while now – but the last few months have been very busy. No doubt the vast majority of you are also feeling the pressure in these unprecedented times!

Up to September 30th 2020, 508 schools were contracted to receive their broadband provision through HfL. We are pleased to say that only 49 of these schools did not renew through us. It’s an extremely competitive market and we are delighted with the renewals numbers. We also had two schools who left us three years ago, decide to re-join.

There were lots of different reasons these schools left our provision: schools closing, infants and junior schools merging and only needed the one connection, schools joining out of county provisions and of course others just wishing to contract elsewhere. We wish all of these schools the best in their new scenarios.

There are 150 schools that are increasing their internet speed either by installing a different type of internet circuit or by increasing their bandwidth on their existing infrastructure. As I am sure that you can imagine there are currently lots of challenges associated to the work that is required and we will be working closely with RM to make sure that this is as problem free as possible.

We would like to extend our thanks to RM, and of course to all schools and I.T. support companies who have worked with us, particularly in the challenging circumstances due to the pandemic. We value your custom and look forward to working closely with you during the new three year contract. If you have questions or need advice, please contact us on either help@sd.hertsforlearning.co.uk or by phoning 01438 844777.

Stay safe!

Kevin Crawley

SSL Connect (VPN) Service Improvements

Following on from our communication yesterday, we have been in discussions with RM to identify how we can jointly support you as effectively as possible for the use of VPN

Within the next 24 hours the following changes will take place:

·         All schools will each be upgraded from 10 concurrent sessions to 50

·         The HICS network was previously capped at 500 concurrent connections.  Burst capacity will be enabled for up to 2500 connections

·         The duration of user connections timing out when they are inactive has been reduced to 10 minutes.  This will reduce the amount of connections which are left dormant, making them available for others to use.

We hope this will drastically improve the effectiveness of the service during this difficult period of time and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

SSL Connect Update

We reported yesterday that some of our customers have been experiencing difficulties when using SSL Connect Remote Working (VPN). The network is under an immense amount of strain at the moment due to the large volumes of people working from home. In order to ensure this remains as accessible as possible to all, please follow the guidance below:

–          Only log into SSL Connect when needing to access school-hosted resources (e.g. SIMs servers) and log off immediately after using them.  Accessing cloud-based resources (e.g. Microsoft Office 365 and Google G-suite won’t need a VPN connection)

–          Ensure that you proactively log out of SSL Connect when you do not need remote access to ensure that your session terminates immediately without leaving it to time-out

–          If your school is likely to have more than 10 concurrent users at any one time, please let us know via the Service Desk, so that we can do all we can to ensure the correct resources are allocated to you

SSL Connect – Service Issue

Customers using SSL Connect may face a “session could not be established” error page. This is due to unprecedented demand causing connection issues for some customers. RM are actively working on this to get the matter resolved as quickly as possible.

HfL Firewall Maintenance

RM are planning to perform important maintenance to the HfL firewall on 30th August 2019 between 4.00 AM and 7.00 AM UK time. We are not anticipating any service interruptions during this change but should you experience any issues, please contact the Service Desk.

Jenny Collins – Service Desk Manager

Google issue from 29th January

Following on from the Google search issues that occurred last month, RM have provided HfL with a report on this incident.

Report Summary 

On 29th January 2019, users reported issues accessing Google search results when using SSL proxies (wf3.thegrid.org.uk etc.). While trying to access search results, users were not receiving the desired webpage, instead they were getting a filtered message.

When dealing with a non-Herts eSafety query, the RM Service Desk added a new deny rule into the RM Global List (RM Pornography) within RM SafetyNet. This resulted in denying all the Google URL’s containing the rule. The change was applied to the live environment after being tested. Whilst the initial rule was overly broad, it was implemented quickly with a safety first approach as the video on YouTube was of a highly offensive nature. Following analysis and fault detection, this entry was updated to a more surgical approach, allowing for normal google search access to resume.

Follow-On Actions: The RM Management Team will discuss and finalise further safety measures that needs to be taken when staff amend the RM Global Lists. RM Management will also review the current testing scenarios and propose amendments if required.  Additional training will also be delivered to the RM Service Desk and they will be reminded of the importance when amending rules on the RM Global Lists.  HfL have requested RM keep us updated on developments.