Who We Are
Our History : From blue screens, DOS and floppy disks to HD web-based media & software solutions on wide-screens and mobile devices, we’ve come a long way. The technologies have changed but our focus has remained the same – to create simple, well designed, useful tools to save our clients time, money and a few grey hairs.
Our Future : While we will continue to maintain our relationships and service our current client list that reside outside of the Independent School market, we are focusing our future 100% on marketing and information systems for Independent Schools. Our aim is not to license our software to thousands of schools and compete in the SIS market. Rather we plan to grow slowly and steadily, one school at a time through relationships and recommendations based on the work that we do.
What We Do
Our Philosophy : Software is NOT the solution…media and data management is.
Our Process : We start every project with an audit of the school’s current media and data management systems based on the school’s needs. This consists of a visit to the school wherein we interview each constituency group in need of assistance. For instance, if a school is in need of a website and SIS, we would come to the school and meet with the administration, marketing department, admissions office, development office, faculty, staff, parent group and any other group the school deems appropriate. In these meetings we would gather information about the current state of data and communication systems relevant to each group and how they interact with other groups in the school. From these interviews we develop a needs assessment document and formulate a proposal for services. This proposal would outline, in detail, the processes, timelines and costs involved in bringing the project from initial phase through to completion and then, as well, outline an agreement for continued media and data management maintenance and support services.
Our Promise : We are not your typical school software or website design company. We maintain regular, almost daily contact with the schools we work with. We do not use a support ticket system whereby our clients become to do items on a list that we tick off as we go. We are on a first name basis with everyone we deal with and are always available to chat by phone, email or even online chat to help with issues as they arise. We promise that our systems will work and your media and data will be correct and accessible to you at all times. If for any reason, at any time, something goes awry – a glitch, a data anomaly, a sticky wicket – we will work diligently to fix it right away and at no extra cost. Stuff goes wrong, always has, always will – it’s how you deal with it when it does that matters.
School Information System FAQs
You’re a small company. What happens if you get hit by a bus? While the answer remains the same, we prefer the question to be phrased, “What happens if you win the lottery?”
That said, Pixels & Digits is stable, growing and built to last. We understand that you may have concerns about perceived risks involved in working with a small company such as ours and will work with you to mitigate those risks and waylay all of your concerns. If at any time we were to go out of business for any reason (lottery or bus) we would facilitate either porting your data to a system of your choice or negotiate a solution whereby you would gain access to our source code and documentation.
You say you build custom software solutions to suit our specific needs. Does this mean we own the software?
No, you do not own the software; we do. But you get to use it anytime, anywhere, with unlimited access and support. We are very different from other information systems software companies in that we don’t lease you a software package for you to use to manage your data on your own. We are a data management company that happens to create our own software to use in the data management processes. There are no licensing fees or use restrictions. We say ‘custom software solutions’ because we can customize parts of the software to suit your specific needs.
We understand that you have a reputation for giving amazing service and support but how will you be able to maintain that level of support as you take on more schools?
Schools, from a data perspective, are fairly simple machines. The first year of our relationship is fairly intensive but after things are rolling and the kinks are worked out throughout that first school year our interactions with the school are primarily regular background data audits and creating a new report here and there as needed. For instance, our workload for The Unquowa School, who we’ve been managing for since 2008, is minimal. We can easily handle up to 10 schools at our current size but we don’t plan on doing that. We will be expanding well before we hit that mark and we feel confident that because our service is head and shoulders superior to all software solutions (software is NOT the solution) we’ll be expanding sooner than later.
How secure is our data?
The short answer is : very! The long and technical answer is : Our servers are hosted in a state of the art data center complete with a fully redundant network with no single point of failure, multiple layers of network security and backup power generators and HVAC Units. The servers are configured to allow root access to only Pixels & Digits IP addresses; all others are blocked for all processes (ssh,smtp,mysql,ftp etc.). We are constantly (multiple times daily) monitoring all server logs for nefarious activities. We log all user activity and have automated procedures built into the software to detect and immediately report any interactions that present as SQL injection attempts. While the data itself is not stored in an encrypted state (except for user passwords which are encrypted), the connection to the data is encrypted with 256-bit encryption. The connection uses TLS 1.0. The connection is encrypted using AES_256_CBC, with SHA1 for message authentication and DHE_RSA as the key exchange mechanism – basically the same security a bank website uses to secure your banking data.
Can you please explain your backup and disaster recovery methodology?
We have automated backups and multiple redundancies both locally and remotely which we test regularly and monitor daily to insure virtually no downtime in the event of server failure. If the server temporarily goes down for some reason, we have a clone of the system on another server in another datacenter that would allow access to the software with full functionality immediately. If the main server were to have a hardware malfunction that rendered it permanently unusable we, have a local clone of the server backed up twice daily that we could have up in running in an hour’s time. This, in conjunction with the above mentioned off-site clone, would allow for no interruption in access to the data and softwares functionality. If the datacenter our main server is in were to suffer a catastrophic disaster and be turned into dust, our software is under version control of which the repository is also hosted off-site and we have multiple off-site backups to all data, so we’d be able to launch a new server and build out an instance of the software and data within a day or two tops. This, in conjunction with the above mentioned off-site clone, would also allow for no interruption in access to the data and softwares functionality.