Technology doesn't have to be overwhelming

You're reading this page because you understand that to be competitive, you need technology. Whether you're a brand new school, you've outgrown Excel or you're adding locations through growth or acquisition... you can't continue without a comprehensive school administration solution.

 

Let RollCall Navigate the Technology Maze for you

We take a distinctly practical approach to creating software. We're much more interested in reliable, supportable than 'cool'. Our technology is tried and tested, it's industry standard and it's manageable by organizations without access to full-time tech staff. We deliver school administration software that fits into your current office, and grows with you.

Having said that... the information below is for the more technical person who likes to know the 'details'.

 

Administration Software - Client/Server Implementation

The workstation portion of RollCall is a standard windows-based executable built in C++ using a combination of MFC and Qt libraries and is installable under all versions of Windows XP and above. The client is installable on MAC computers, but requires an emulator such as Parallels to operate. RollCall is built using PowerVista's scripting language, designed for data driven GUI interfaces used by database application software. The main benefit to end-users (you) is that it cost effectively supports rapid change for integrating customer requests and other customizations.

The Enterprise and Standard Editions use the same code base, they differ only in the database to which they connect.

Databases

RollCall uses Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 for RollCall Enterprise Edition and a proprietary C-ISAM file database for RollCall Standard Edition. By default, we install Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express edition using PowerVista's VAR license. RollCall can also be installed using your Microsoft SQL Server license as a new instance.

There are no extra hardware or software requirements for installing RollCall. For the Enterprise Edition, the requirements for installing a server operating system and SQL Server itself are more than satisfactory for operating RollCall.  is the industry standard for commercial strength database processing. It has no limitations on the number of relationships it can manage and it supports many simultaneous users transparently. The database sits between the client/server back office software and the web portals and is updated in real-time. When a change is made in the office, it's visible immediately to the web users and visa-versa.

Web Portals

RollCall Web portals are written using asp, vbscript, jscript and a bit of ajax. They use a style-based color and graphic layout, which can be changed on request to match your school's web site. The web pages are installed on a computer with local (or logical) connection with the database. You will need an external IP address or domain in order to provide access to the web portals to students, instructors, prospects, etc. Schools usually have an externally hosted text web site that will allow a redirect to the RollCall web portals.

Server Installation Options

You have the option of installing the server portion of RollCall Enterprise Edition (the database and a maintenance installation of RollCall client) on a local network server (most common) or a remote server hosted as part of a cloud implementation or a co-location agreement with a hosting company. Schools using RollCall use either option, and often begin with a local office server and move to a hosted implementation ... or visa versa.

We don't think there is a "best" option. In PowerVista, we use both options where they fit, and find many larger clients follow the same pattern. Smaller clients tend to use local networks if their administrators are technically proficient or they already have an office network installed and are happy with it.

Generally, the remote option:

  •  slightly more expensive (over time)
  •  provides slightly slower response to local clients
  •  requires less of your technical expertise to manage
  •  is substantially "safer" in a disaster.
  • has higher availability

Generally, the local office network option:

  • slightly less expensive, though the expense will be in one-time purchase costs, rather than spread over time. If you can re-use an existing infrastructure, it will be significantly less costly at implementation
  • local office clients will get the best performance, as they use a wired or wireless network connection.
  • requires local technical expertise, either as a contracted service or from employees. You will have to invest in UPS technology, backup software and create a disaster recovery plan. You will have to secure "good" bandwidth if you choose to install the web portals.
  • less 'safe' in a disaster, unless you take the time and discipline to implement and follow a disaster recovery plan.
  • has (over time) lower availability - though that is completely in your control.

Connectivity Strategies

If you choose to install on an office network, you will use the existing network infrastructure.

If you choose to install on a remote server, you must provide some method of connecting local clients to the database that resides on the server. These are your options; you can use one or all three simultaneously.

  • Terminal Services: A copy of RollCall is installed in some public folder on the server. The people use Terminal Services to connect. You must purchase a 'pack' of connections, as a single connection is the default for most Windows Server Family installations. The clients are actually running RollCall on the server, using server files/resources. You can configure the connection to use a local printer, but things like Excel exports will use the server copy of Excel.
  • VPN: There are a variety of options, from third party to cloud options. Many remote hosting companies have VPN packages for accessing applications on a remote server, so ask your provider for options.
  • RollCall Web Portals:  A remote client comes with the web pages and is part of that purchase. It installs a service on the server that makes a TCP connection with the client and exchanges compressed/encrypted requests and results sets. It's pretty fast, but sensitive to keep alive parameters on the server and connection drops for inactivity (Terminal Services is similar, in that you wll be required to re-login for long periods of inactivity). It is also currently limited to serving individual IP addresses, not a single public IP on an office router that handles multiple simultaneous connections.

About 80% of clients with remote servers use option #1

Hardware Requirements

RollCall itself has minimal hardware requirements - it's not a very large application as compared to Microsoft Word or Mozilla Firefox. If your server is able to install a Windows Server operating system and Microsoft´s SQL Server, you can cheerfully operate RollCall with any number of students. Microsoft publishes current hardware specifications for both operating systems and databases for reference.

Third Party Software

RollCall interfaces with several other software applications. It will send export information to Microsoft Excel, merges information to Microsoft Word and will exchange information with Inuit's Quickbooks program. RollCall can also interface on the web with your current shopping cart software or PayPal. You must purchase a licensed version to each third party software application, and install it properly before using it with RollCall.

 

 

 

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