Optimal Solutions Honored as One of the 2012 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch”

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch 2012Optimal Solutions, Inc. has been recognized as one of the 2012 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” nominated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for their innovation and company growth.

Optimal Solutions is a locally-owned software development and network engineering company specializing in the health care and education industries.   Their products and services are exclusively West Michigan based and include:

eVideon Education – a web-based network video system that enables K-12 and higher education institutions the ability to distribute CATV or satellite video in the data network, broadcast live events such as graduation ceremonies, concerts and sporting events, and store recorded video for on-demand playback.

eVideon Healthcare – developed in coordination with Metro Health, a networked video system that helps hospitals increase patient satisfaction and hospital efficiencies by allowing patients to interactively participate in their own care, learn more about their ailment through video education and be entertained by HD quality TV and Hollywood movies.

SchoolFinance – For more than a decade, Michigan Public Schools have been in control of their accounting, payroll and HR through the use of OSI’s powerful and intuitive financial management system supporting thousands of teachers, staff and administrators.

eVideon has been implemented throughout the US and upcoming deployments include US based military hospitals as well as international hospitals.  SchoolFinance is used by more than 75 school districts throughout Michigan.  It provides support for more than $1 billion in annual budgets. Since 1993, Optimal Solutions has also been recognized as an engineering leader in network design, implementation and support.

“We are honored be part of this prestigious award,” comments Jeff Ingle, Founder and CEO.  “Our innovation and growth are due to a combination of a dedicated and talented team, strong partnerships and loyal customers – all who provide continuous positive feedback to our organization. Together we are able to provide powerfully simple tools that benefit patients, students, clinicians, and education professionals.”

Companies making it to the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list are a remarkable group of second-stage companies. Defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants, these companies form the backbone of Michigan’s economy. Representing all regions of the state and a diverse range of industries, companies like Optimal Solutions are known for their exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, creation of innovation or use of innovation in creative ways, and their sustainable competitive advantage.

Optimal Solutions will be honored at an awards ceremony during the eighth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event, May 3, 2012 in Lansing, Mich.

Announcing Spring 2012 SchoolFinance2K User Group Meetings

Michigan tulips in the SpringThe Spring 2012 SchoolFinance2k User Group meetings have been scheduled in five locations across the state, providing easy access for all SF2K users. All business managers and users are encouraged to attend. The full schedule is as follows:

calendarWednesday, April 18 ~ 11:00am – 2:00pm
“East” in Frankenmuth, MI at the Bavarian Inn (w/lunch)

calendarThursday, April 19 ~ 10am – 2pm
“Up North” at COP-ESD, Indian River MI (w/lunch)

calendarFriday, April 20 ~ 11:30am – 3:30pm
Optimal Solutions office, Wyoming MI (w/lunch)

calendarThursday, April 26 ~ 9:30am – 1:30pm
“South” at Three Rivers Schools, Three Rivers MI (w/lunch)

calendarFriday, April 27 ~ 9:30am – 1:30pm
“West” at Manistee ISD, Manistee MI (w/lunch)

The 2012 SchoolFinance2k User Group meetings are packed with exciting topics as we begin a new year full of change, creative resourcing and web development of SF2k. Topics of discussion currently include:

  • Annual Business Manager updates including summary of 941, FID, REP and ORS changes
  • Review and discussion…new retirement rates, 1% tax on benefits and other topics prior to MSBO
  • Year End Processing quick tips and reminders
  • General Ledger Updates, new features, quick tips
  • Budget tools, enhanced budgeting and what if capabilities – review and training
  • Reports, extracts and imports overview, new features, how to’s and quick tips
  • New TSA specific section in the software
  • Wage table review, how to make changes, begin new contracts ‘in mass’
  • Benefits and Employer Paid review – mass adding information, making adjustments
  • Review of April software upgrade and new feature releases
  • Review of 2012 development highlights
  • Review of significant Web Portal updates,
  • SchoolFinance and SQL
  • General Q&A’s
  • Survey requesting feedback on misc. features and functions will be available for all

(Note additional topics will be added and agendas sent to all several days prior to the event)

If you would like to attend, email or call Rebecca at (616)281-6040/(888)832-3400.

FYI, attractive district and group pricing models for joining the SF2k community.  Let us know if other districts in your area would like to learn more about SchoolFinance!

PDF version of this announcement is available for posting.

eVideon Healthcare and AMOS TV Introduce Harmonia for Hospital Relaxation

AMOS TV and eVideon™ Healthcare are proud to introduce Harmonia, http://www.harmoniahd.com, an in-house video channel for hospitals.

Harmonia uses the beauty of nature and the natural world combined with brilliantly-scored musical compositions to capture the patient’s attention and provide an escape. It takes the patient on an audio/visual journey specifically created to improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote feelings of well-being.

Each patient has different needs and Harmonia offers two very unique channels: harmonia relax and harmonia rally.

relax: relax is specifically designed to reduce stress levels and calm nerves through highly engaging yet non-intrusive visual and audio stimulus. relax is the perfect beside companion; within the hospital setting, it is the most useful category for general patient well-being and relaxation.

rally: A tremendous complement to relax, rally is upbeat and motivational. rally is excellent for settings wherein wakefulness and stimulation are required. Applications for rally include physical therapy centers, child life rooms or a patient room when a more upbeat mood is desired.

Harmonia is available both as a streaming option with an Interactive Patient Care System or as a broadcast channel over a traditional cable television system. eVideon™ Healthcare users have the additional capability of viewing on-demand at your patient’s convenience.

Harmonia is produced by AMOS TV, the world’s leading producer and distributor of Ambient Video. Harmonia uses unparalleled content from world-renowned sources and all video is shot in HD – producing stunning visuals and audio.

Jeff Ingle, Optimal Solutions founder and CEO, states that, “hospitals are asking for video channels that soothe, relax, inspire, motivate and encourage their patients. The unparalleled quality of Harmonia promotes well-being and heightens the satisfaction of each patient touched by its elegance and grace.”

“Harmonia provides visually stunning images that are unlike anything seen before on video,” says Nat Cooper, Director of Marketing for AMOS TV. “Harmonia is the perfect way to create a calming and energy-positive environment in which to foster health, healing and recovery.”


Building a Network to Support the Zeeland Schools 1:1 iPad Program

iPads for Education at Zeeland Public SchoolsAs school districts across the country consider plans for how to best use mobile computing in the classroom, Zeeland Public Schools of Zeeland, Michigan recently became one of the first to put such a plan into action.

Zeeland distributed iPads to 1800 district high school students as parts of its iLearn 1:1 computing program.

The idea behind Zeeland’s iPad program was simple:

Provide learners with a portable computing device so they can create, collaborate, communicate, and critically think.
–from Zeeland’s iLearn Website

But long before the first iPads were handed to students, Zeeland administrators realized the load from so many wireless network devices would be best handled by the creation of a new network infrastructure.

To build this new network, they turned to Optimal Solutions.

The challenges and requirements of the project included:

  • The need to handle 30+ computing devices per classroom using the network
  • Network authentication that ensured prompt access to the right resources
  • Centralized management of nearly 300 wireless access points
  • Locating and blocking unauthorized access points using wireless sensors
  • Supporting the district’s Acceptable Use Policy and the Children’s Internet Protection Act
  • Providing power-over-ethernet for lower costs and energy savings

After reviewing the project needs, Optimal Solutions submitted a project plan and budget that were eventually selected by Zeeland Public School administrators. The project to design and install the new wireless network included several important steps:

  • Step 1
    • Ordering all necessary wireless access points and wireless controllers
    • Configuring, testing, and documenting all hardware “in-house” before deployment
  • Step 2
    • Meeting with Zeeland administrators responsible for the iPad initiative to finalize project needs
    • Configuring the core network switch based on Zeeland’s specifications
  • Step 3
    • Conducting an on-site survey to determine the quantity and placement of access points
    • Documenting the final wireless deployment plan
  • Step 4
    • Installing the core network switch in Zeeland
    • Configuring network infrastructure for all necessary servers and services
  • Step 5
    • Physical installation of all wireless access points
    • Configuration and testing of access points and controllers
  • Step 6
    • Providing Zeeland with training on overall operation of the system
    • Answering any questions and making final adjustments as necessary
  • Step 7
    • Providing hard-copy and electronic documentation for the entire network infrastructure
  • Step 8
    • Meeting with Zeeland Public School administrators for a final walk-through and project closeout

The switchover from Zeeland’s old network to its new, best-in-class network took place over a 5-day span during Christmas Break in 2010. And the results were outstanding. The network met all requirements for the project, allowing students to use their iPads easily throughout the schools without losing signal or stressing the bounds of the network’s capacity.

If you would like to ready more about Zeeland’s iPad initiative, various news outlets have covered it, including the USA Today.

And if you’d like to talk to Optimal Solutions about your next network project, please use the form below. We would love to answer any questions you have and help ensure your network is a powerful, reliable asset for your business.

  • Please tell us about your project and any questions you have. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Fall 2011 SchoolFinance Meetings a Success

SchoolFinance from Optimal Solutions

Our Fall 2011 SchoolFinance meeting are now complete, and they were a big success. We traveled to four different locations throughout Michigan to make it as easy as possible for our users. Optimal Solutions also hosted an event here in our office. We had over 90% attendance from our users.

We’re also happy to report that great progress is being made on the new requirements for reporting employee- and employer-paid premiums on 2012 W2’s. SchoolFinance is in full compliance and will have this important release out to clients mid-December 2011!

And as always, the user meetings gave us excellent opportunities to connect with our great users. We collected dozens of suggestions from these meetings that will help SchoolFinance remain the outstanding, affordable solution for financial management in the educational market.

If you are an existing SchoolFinance user, be sure to log into the client section. There are a number of important webinars coming up during the month of December that will help you stay up to date while getting the most out of your SF system.

And if you’re looking for a solution to help manage your district’s financial and personnel assets, please get in touch with us.

Announcing Fall 2011 SchoolFinance2K User Group Meetings

SchoolFinance2K Fall MeetingsThe Fall 2011 SchoolFinance2k User Group meetings have been scheduled in five locations across the state, providing easy access for all SF2K users. All business managers and users are encouraged to attend. The full schedule is as follows:

calendarFriday, November 4 ~ 9:00am – 1:00pm
“West” at Manistee ISD, Manistee MI (w/lunch)

calendarWednesday, November 9 ~ 10am – 2pm
“Up North” at COP-ESD, Indian River MI (w/lunch)

calendarThursday, November 10 ~ 9:00am – 1:00pm
“South” at Mendon Schools, Mendon MI (w/lunch)

calendarFriday, November 11 ~ 11:30am – 3:30pm
Optimal Solutions office, Wyoming MI (w/lunch)

calendarFriday, November 18 ~ 10am – 1:00pm
“East” in Frankenmuth, MI at the Bavarian Inn (w/lunch)

Topics of discussion currently include:

  • Review of new W2 reporting requirements and SF2k’s build out of employer paid and Benefits Module to accommodate these changes.  This will significantly enhance reporting, budgeting and planning with this data fully integrated.
  • Review of Web Portal and addition of W2’s to the portal – no more printing, stuffing and mailing W2’s to employees!  Plus review of FID updates in the portal, new professional development features.
  • Review of updates including summary of W2, FID, REP and ORS changes
  • Review of wage table implementation, new reports, budgeting tools, what if scenarios for contract negotiations
  • Calendar Year End Processing quick tips and reminders
  • General Ledger Updates, new features, quick tips
  • Reports, extracts and imports overview, new features, how to’s and quick tips
  • Review of November software upgrade and new feature releases
  • Review of SF2k platform migration/upgrade to SQL Server – enhanced capabilities in years to come
  • General SF2k Q&A’s
  • Survey requesting feedback on misc. features and functions will be available for all.

(Note additional topics will be added and agendas sent to all several days prior to the event)

If you would like to attend, email or call Rebecca at (616)281-6040/(888)832-3400.

A PDF document of this announcement is available for posting.

FYI, we are actively recruiting new clients!  SF2k has attractive district pricing models for joining the SF2k community.  Let us know if other districts in your area would like to learn more about SchoolFinance!

Optimal Solutions Hosting an Open Event for Novell Users October 26

Optimal Solutions, a Novell Gold PartnerWe will be hosting a customer event for Novell users on Wednesday, October 26th at 2:00 PM. The event is open to the public and will take place at our offices in Wyoming, MI (map and directions).

As a Novell Gold Partner with decades of senior engineering expertise in this technology, Optimal Solutions has been very busy with a full load of OES, GW & ZCM upgrades, virtualization, new HP servers, HP storage, backup and so on – so we too have been anxiously awaiting new announcements.

Two of our senior systems engineers with many Novell miles (Lee Steinbach and Mary Mathews) just returned from BrainShare with a lot of things to communicate.  Two high level Novell employees (Dean Lythgoe, Director of Collaboration Products, and Karyn Victory, Sr. Sales Specialist for the Central Region), will be on site for this meeting and ready to answer questions related to Novell’s products and direction.

Topics will include the following:

  • Attachmate acquisition and new direction toward the common good of its customers (what you can expect to see)
  • GroupWise 2012
  • FILR – (New Product) – eliminates drive mapping, easy end user sharing, etc – enhancements to the user experience
  • ZENWorks (ZCM) – discussions on Novell’s new focus on the product, commitment to stability, newer strategies and upcoming functionality/performance (add ons, improved key manipulation {AJAX}, etc {common customer requests})
  • Q & A

Having Novell executives on hand will give us all an opportunity to hear from them while voicing our ideas and concerns.

If you or your technology staff would like to attend, email or call Rebecca at (616)281-6040/(888)832-3400. 

Keeping with OSI tradition, we will provide the usual snacks, etc.

eVideon Brings IPTV and Live Video Broadcasting to Tippecanoe School Corporation

Tippecanoe Schools, a new eVideon customerThe Tippecanoe School Corporation, a district of 20 schools in Northwestern Indiana, recently partnered with Optimal Solutions to fulfill a variety of network video needs. eVideon Education, developed by Optimal Solutions, is a software solution providing IPTV and network video distribution to K-12 and higher education institutions.

eVideon allows school districts to avoid the cost and maintenance of traditional coax-based television systems by distributing video over the existing IP network. Tippecanoe’s installation included a bank of video encoders converting standard television channels into digital streams for network distribution. These digital channels were then viewable on televisions and computers throughout the district.

In addition, TSC  wanted to establish video studios in each school that could broadcast live digital video throughout the district, allowing students to view announcements and special events. Capturing video within the studios was accomplished with the Tricaster 300 — essentially a portable digital recording and editing studio designed for portability and ease of use. Video from the Tricaster units was then captured and rebroadcast to the entire network using the Wowza Media Server.

As the central hub for video on the network, eVideon tied these services into an easily-managed application. Access to channels and streams were controlled via the eVideon web interface. In addition, teachers and administrators could upload video to eVideon so that it could be accessed easily from the classroom at any time.

Woodland Elementary of the Tippecanoe School Corporation

Woodland Elementary, part of the Tippecanoe School Corporation, and a new eVideon user

Kalamazoo School Districts Hire Optimal for Infrastructure Upgrade

Comstock Schools, Parchment Schools and Gull Lake Community Schools in Kalamazoo are leaning on the expertise of OSI’s network integration group to upgrade, optimize and streamline their network and server infrastructure. Work includes implementing a Storage Area Network (SAN) with virtual servers and deploying a centralized workstation management solution via ZenWorks, including imaging, application deployment and security policies.

Dexter Community Schools Adds IP Cameras

Dexter Community Schools logoOptimal Solutions’ engineering group is wrapping up a deployment of more than 250 new Axis IP surveillance cameras. These H.264 cameras are being centrally managed by 5 new HP servers running the OnSSI NetDVMS platform.