Microsoft Introduces Toolkit to Help Schools Share Information, Allowing for Greater Efficiency and Reduced Costs

CHICAGO, June 25, 2001 — Today at the National Educational Computing Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of the Microsoft® Zone Integration Server Toolkit 2.0, a free set of tools to help K-12 administrators and IT professionals in schools use data to make better decisions. Considered
between various software applications, Zone Integration Servers (ZIS) make up a major component of the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), a series of software standards that enable school administrative systems to share data seamlessly. ZIS eliminates redundant data entry in diverse school administration systems, streamlining organizational duties for both IT and clerical staff.

“One of the biggest challenges facing the K-12 education community is the lack of software interoperability,”
said Bob Maher, group manager for business development at Microsoft and co-chairman of the SIF board, a division of the Software & Information Industry Association.
“This toolkit will demonstrate how administrators and developers can leverage existing software to build a ZIS, while taking full advantage of the power of the Microsoft .NET Platform.”

ZIS Toolkit Provides a Jump-Start for Quicker, More Agile Network

Built on the Microsoft BizTalk™
Server 2000, an enterprise application integration tool and using Microsoft .NET technology, the ZIS Toolkit will provide developers, from commercial vendors to school districts and educational service centers, with the tools and documentation needed to build a ZIS.

The ZIS Toolkit contains evaluation copies of the Windows® 2000 Server, Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000, Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000 and Microsoft Visio® 2000 drawing and diagramming software. Also included are a resource CD with a tutorial; a live demonstration of interoperability using a BizTalk and ZIS interaction; a series of white papers documenting the benefits to various audiences; and a program that installs the SIF backbone and configures the platform components. By including such a comprehensive offering, the ZIS Toolkit puts the potential for interoperability at the fingertips of educators and administrators nationwide.

“The Microsoft ZIS Toolkit is a useful reference implementation and set of tools,”
said Lee Wilson, vice president of marketing for Chancery Software Ltd., a leading North American provider of student information management systems.
“At Chancery, we hope these new protocols for communication and interoperability will enable the delivery of new levels of productivity and value to school administrators.”

“All schools have a common challenge of entering the same student information into at least four different systems manually,”
said Tim Landgrave, president and CEO of Vobix Corp, a hosted total management solution for administering and delivering educational curriculum for K-12, higher education and corporate training environments.
“With the ZIS Toolkit, schools can create a single point of entry that allows all systems to get the information they need. This allows for fully enabled sites that include online registration, access to the hosted Vobix Learning Solution environment and a BizTalk and ZIS interface to its existing legacy systems. That’s a pretty attractive solution.”

“Without operating standards, data reporting and data-driven decision-making will continue to be a costly endeavor for schools, districts and education departments. At Microsoft, we believe that SIF is a critical industry initiative to help schools realize the vision of data interoperability,”
Maher said.

Background on SIF

The Schools Interoperability Framework is a groundbreaking, industrywide initiative to develop a standard that ensures compatibility among school software applications. Microsoft and more than 100 education software developers created SIF in February 1999 to empower education leaders to build and support agile and accountable schools. SIF is an innovative technical standard that will enable diverse school software applications — such as student information, library, transportation and foodservice systems — to interact and share data seamlessly.

SIF is a giant step toward building a Connected Learning Community, in which the world is an enriched learning environment and in which technology used well enhances and expands opportunities for learning while providing the practical technology experience needed in today’s society and workplaces.

Microsoft continues to work with colleagues in the industry to speed the development of SIF-compliant software applications and solutions, including ZIS.

SIF is managed by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association for the software and digital content industry. SIIA is a resource that provides its members with tools to help them better understand the changing industry. More information about SIF is available at .

Microsoft’s ZIS Toolkit and its overall commitment to SIF reinforce the company’s continuing efforts to help schools build a Connected Learning Community, in which all students and educators have access to learning any time and any place. More information about Microsoft’s education programs is available at the Microsoft Education Web site at .

The ZIS Toolkit can be downloaded now from Microsoft’s Web site, .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, BizTalk, Windows and Visio are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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