Visual Software Products

A New Generation

In 2007, just before the release of SIF 2.0, Visual Software took a large step and decided to do a ground-up re-write of our entire product line,

Realizing that the new market for SIF was going include not only school and LA-sized implementations, but many much larger than those, we also designed our entire product line to be able to potentially accommodate millions of learners' worth of traffic through a scalable architecture.

We've chosen as our foundation the .NET platform from Microsoft and have used technologies such as the .NET Enterprise Library and SQL Server. We have interfaced with software such Microsoft's System Center Operations Manager for managing certain features of a scaled-out, high-availability server farm.

Scaling and High-Availability

To us scaling means that a deployment of a single product is able to accommodate the needs of a very small school or a medium sized country.

The product itself and the platform on which it runs should be affordable by the school and the version of the software delivered to the small school should not be so "feature-poor" that it is hard to use. It should have all the usability features that the big implementations get.SIF Scalability

On the mid- to high-end, all of our products may be configured as high-availability clusters using a choice of different methods. These clusters can have as few as two servers and can scale out to as many as necessary to meet the need.

Although high-availability servers are typically located together, they could be located in different data centers but still be in the same cluster (this would be useful in setting up disaster recovery centers).

Security and Privacy

Security and privacy issues have always been a major priority for us. Currently the only SIF supplier to be a US-EU Safe Harbor Certified (and now US-EU-Swiss Safe Harbor Certified), we have also been at the forefront of several privacy-related initiatives within the SIFA organization.

As to security, all of our products support all SIF-specified security models, plus contain additions needed to keep up with current cyber security standards.

Pricing

We try to make our pricing models as simple and straightforward as possible. We do not charge by the student and we do not claim to give you something for free, only to make it up somewhere else (like when you need support).

Most of our products are licensed by the server (with the exception of Mimic and ZIAgent).

Our support typically includes unlimited telephone/online product support (using a remote desktop facility during your business hours) and product updates - either because we've changed our software or because the SIF specification has changed (and both of these happen regularly).  This support does not include system integration (working with the quality of the data at your location or problems that arise that aren't related to our software).


Mimic support is priced differently because we have intentionally priced this product at a low cost so that schools, districts and LAs would be able to get a "quick start" without needing to spend a significant amount to do so.

We offer a few different ZIAgent licensing models that are tailored to different audiences, depending to their specific needs. The pricing model for our other software, for example, would not work very well for an OEM who wanted to bundle SIF agents made with ZIAgent with their application.