McHENRY, IL - June 16, 2000 - Follett Software Company, the leading provider of K-12 library automation, and NCS, the largest provider of K-12 student, curriculum, instructional management and financial management software, have joined forces to develop the first multi-platform Zone Integration Server (ZIS) for operation with the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). The SIF is a specification that will improve school efficiencies by enabling K-12 administrative and instructional software to interact and share data. The ZIS is a component of the SIF that enables information exchange to occur. Follett Software and NCS's ZIS will be compliant with Windows 95, 98, NT, Windows 2000, Linux, Novell NetWare and Mac platforms.
The SIF is an initiative driven by K-12 education technology providers and educators to revolutionize the management and accessibility of data within the K-12 environment. It will enable diverse applications to interact and share data efficiently, reliably and securely, regardless of the platform hosting the applications. It will do so by defining a common format for data, such as student demographics, attendance information, library information and grades. The SIF will also identify how the software applications will interact with each other. More than 75 education technology organizations have united to create the SIF. The final SIF specification is planned for release at NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) in Atlanta, Georgia, in late June. For more information on SIF, visit www.siia.net/sif. .
The ZIS Enables Applications to Share Information
With the SIF, individual software systems will exchange messages through a ZIS, which serves as a central clearinghouse for all SIF communication. To send messages to the ZIS, each software company must build a "SIF interface agent" into its software that complies with SIF specifications. For example, Follett Software is modifying its Circulation Plus library automation software and NCS is enhancing its SASIxp student information system software to be SIF-compliant. When the final SIF specification is released, vendors will have to complete compliance testing prior to marketing their products as SIF-compliant. Once compliant, the products will enable disparate solutions to communicate and allow open access to data for creating reports.
Follett Software and NCS have always been strongly committed to seamless product integration and have been working on that vision for many years, through products such as Follett Software's Circulation Plus and Catalog Plus and NCS's SASIxp and ABACUSxp. Follett Software was the first library automation vendor and NCS the first administrative systems vendor to demonstrate the SIF concept. Microsoft's Bill Gates showed Circulation Plus working seamlessly with SASIxp and SNAP's cafeteria management product at AASL in 1999.
"By developing a multi-platform Zone Integration Server, more schools and districts will be able to take advantage of the new Schools Interoperability Framework technology," said Tom Schenck, Follett Software Company president. "We are confident that the SIF will truly help educators serve students better and help districts run more efficiently, and we're committed to continuing our leadership role with the SIF."
Bob Bowen, president of NCS, commented, "We are very pleased that the Schools Interoperability Framework initiative has met with such strong acceptance from both vendors and K-12 school organizations. We continue to have strong strategic relationships with Follett, US Telecom* and SNAP Systems and the co-development of a Zone Integration Server by NCS and Follett is an exciting initiative for both companies. We believe that vendor acceptance of the SIF concept will save school districts millions of dollars per year, by solving the problem of cumbersome duplicate data entry and manual reconciliation of multiple databases."
Follett Software & NCS Software Tested with SIF "Proof of Concept" in Minnesota School
Long-time Follett Software and NCS customer, Anoka Hennepin Independent School District 11, in Anoka, Minnesota, has been piloting the SIF as a "proof of concept" in its Ramsey Elementary School since last year. The school is using the SIF to share information between its Circulation Plus Windows library automation system, SASIxp student information system and SNAP WinSNAPô cafeteria management software. By enabling the software applications to interact and share data in real-time, the SIF is helping Anoka Hennepin alleviate inefficiencies, such as redundant data entry, that resulted from running disparate software systems.
Follett Software Company & NCS Software to Be SIF-Compliant
Follett Software & NCS's applications are well on their way to being SIF compliant. The companies have played a lead role in the SIF initiative, with multiple members of senior management on various steering committees. Both companies will have their software ready for SIF compliance testing after the final SIF specification is released.
Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, NCS (National Computer Systems) is a global information services company providing software, services, systems and Internet-based technologies for the collection, management and interpretation of data. NCS serves important segments of the education, testing, assessment and complex data management markets with nearly 5,000 employees serving its customers from more than 30 locations worldwide.
About Follett Software Company
Since 1985, Follett Software Company has provided school, public and special libraries with leading-edge library automation, Internet and curriculum resource software and services. Its Circulation Plus software, with more than 30,000 installations worldwide, is the number one selling library automation system in the K-12 marketplace. The company also has the largest base of installed Windows customers, with 15,000 users. Follett Software Company is a division of Follett Corporation, and is headquartered in McHenry, IL. In 1999, the company was ranked among the top ten largest software companies in Chicago. For additional information, call (800) 323-3397 or go to www.fsc.follett.com .