The Crystal Accounts information site
(In support of the Crystal invoicing system)

August 2016 Invoice.

We are now in a holding pattern until the MoE come up with a replacement for Crystal. Read the newsletter below for more information.
There is no question that Crystal will morph and services (and prices) will change but until the MoE plan become known we just have to keep on as we are.
Crystal cannot 'morph' its structure, services and costs until we know what to 'morph' into.

We do know that the MoE changes will include Cloud computing, data aggregation and Identity Management.
Just how we merge these chnages remains to be seen ... may it happen as soon as possible ;-)

August 2016 newsletter.
All good things take time … well that is what it seems like with the MoE.
The MoE  team had a great meeting with the old Loop team.

The concept was that the Loop team would provide a ‘peer review’ and this may lead to an opportunity for us to take part in their trials.
The peer review went well  and the line of development looks very good.
Basically they are trying to do what Crystal does but with real money and involve the whole country.
The downside is that they are trying to be inclusive  and allow information to flow between stakeholders (NZQA, SMS’s, Welfare, Justice etc)… and this makes the process frustratingly slow.

I would like Crystal schools to be involved in the trials.
In this way we could edit/morph  Crystal so that schools could easily merge with the new systems when the time comes with the least disruption.
This will also mean that Crystal would need to continue until this merging could take place.

The Ministry’s POC (Proof of Concept) trials are actually several different initiatives each with their own NDA (Non-disclosure agreements), timelines and complexity… bit like herding cats.
I am still waiting for a path forward to emerge.
It is however very clear  Crystal will have to continue to at least the start of the 2017 academic year in its current form.
To that end I will be sending out Crystal services invoice for the next 6 months.
At this point I would like to think  we could start to merge services.

What has changed with this invoice ...
Essentially nothing.
If you find something wrong or out of date information - please email Geoff asap to rectify.

Feb 2016 Invoice.

It appears likely that this will be the last Crystal service invoice. The N4L's Tahi service looks like it will take over Crystal's core services.
Just what will happen to the other Crystal services that are less profitable is unknown. More news coming as we learn more.

In the meantime Crystal has stopped all development and is operating at a cost recovery mode ... at least until more is known about Tahi.
This inevitably creates questions about who pays for what and when.

To clarify... (actually no change to policy- just restating policy and practice)

  • Crystal is designed to be managed by the schools themselves. Training and related support will remain free.
  • However some schools either elect not to do the training, use Crystal as a clerical service or use Crystal support for the more complex tasks (all OK ;-)) but in these cases Crystal will continue to invoice monthly as described on the web site.
  • Changes initiated by the school's action (such as changing SMS's, poor SMS management etc) may still attract a charge as in the past

What has changed with this invoice ...

  • This February 2016 invoice covers the Crystal service fee through to July 2016.
  • Crystal will be unable to refund the service fee should the school leave Crystal before the final date (July 2016).
    [Everyone learnt the hard way with the Loop that when the N4L takes over a service then the associated costs continue to accumulate as a dual system is maintained during the merge process]
    [Note ... N4L are NOT accepting new schools into the Tahi trial before mid-2016] .

  • Unfortunately some schools are very slow or non payers- some are many months in arrears.
    Crystal cannot afford to support these schools as in the past as we are operating on a cost recovery basis.
    There is now a clause referring to non pavement of invoices.
    " Please Note: All amounts left unpaid after the due date may incur interest charges.
    The due date is 40 working days after the invoice date.
    Invoices that remain unpaid will be referred to our collection agency and will incur collection and related charges at your expense.
    Non payment may also be assumed to indicate that the Crystal service is no longer required and thus may be terminated"

What happens come July 2016.

  • What is known?
    • The Tahi trial finishes
    • Tahi currently covers only Google and 365 SSO services but also promises more.
    • It is expected that Tahi will also include Pond, remote access and filtering in the SSO stable.
    • Tahi does NOT currently plan to cover provisioning nor Moodle.

  • Best guess come 2016 (only Geoff's guess as no one else is currently communicating)
    • Tahi will manage SSO for major services (365, Google, Pond, Remote Access, Filtering and maybe NZQA - at least)
    • The large schools (rolls >500) ...
      • The Colleges and intermediates will look after provisioning themselves.
        These are the schools that can afford to have specialised ICT support.
        They MAY collaborate over Moodle and other services.
      • I suspect some large schools will attempt to manage Identity and Access Management themselves but TaaS, privacy requirements, MoE/NZQA requirements and overheads may push most back to a common service. I expect a common SMS structure to emerge.
    • The smaller (especially very small and remote) schools(rolls <300).
      These are the schools I feel concern for . Crystal is still musing over the options here ... need to know more about Tahi before speculating but we have options.

August 2015 Invoice.

It is now a full year since Crystal came into existence as a standalone entity.
The goal was to provide a 'filler" between the old Loop stopping and the MoE's initiative to develop a sector wide IAM system.
Since then the MoE Identity management system (ESSA and ESSA2) has failed completely leaving TKI, NZQA, N4L, e-asTTle, online testing and schools without a common logon or interoperability platform.
A replacement in whatever form emerges takes time to develop and until then Crystal remains the largest (maybe only for most schools) viable alternative.
Under pressure from different interest groups Crystal has decided to continue until a suitable alternative becomes available.

At present Crystal is working with other Education sector parties to provide coverage to all services..

  • Crystal has also had to tweak its focus and funding to adapt to this new environment.
  • Primary schools will notice little difference except for more cross-school services becoming available.
  • Colleges will notice less focus on College specific solutions in favor of generic and cross-school solutions.
  • NetAdmin tweaks that were put on hold are being pulled out of the store and revisited.

Crystal has been requested to encourage schools from outside the "Top of the South" to join the project.
To this end you will soon notice a new Crystal web site and entry level tools becoming more friendly and available.
Crystal now feels comfortable to send the next invoice. This will cover the period between August 2015 to the new 2016 academic year.
It is expected that 'someone' will announce a sector solution for IAM and interoperability about the end of this academic year and we will all be able to plan from that point.

November/December 2014 invoice

Crystal now has been operating on a standalone basis from the Loop for 3 months.
We have moved through our first invoicing round and are about to enter our second.
We have learnt a great deal from our first set of school  invoices.

We have found that…

  • Invoices to school seems to become easily lost … so please don’t feel offended if we ring to confirm that your school actually  received  the invoice correctly.
  • Some schools are slow at responding to invoices…  Crystal costing is based on minimum overheads  so please do not be surprised if we push for payments over two months old.

This will complete payment for Crystal for the 2014 school year (aka to the end of January 2015).
The 2015 school year will introduce an annual invoice.

October 2014 Invoice.

This was the first invoice sent by Crystal.
Up to 1 August these invoices were paid for by the Loop. Once the Loop ceased to exit and Loop invoicing stopped then Crystal picked up the invoicing task for those services it supplied.

The October invoice covered the past two months. (August and September Crystal services).
These were for services that had been already delivered.

A further invoice for four months will be sent in late November/early December 2014.
This will be payment for November (2014), December (2014) and January (2015) services.
This will complete payment for Crystal for the 2014 school year (aka to the end of January 2015).