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ISOC Association Management System

Background Information

3 February 2009 - The Internet Society (ISOC), an independent non-profit international organization which provides leadership in Internet-related standards, education and policy around the world, has selected Aptify as their Association Management Software solution.

ISOC Chief Financial Officer Greg Kapfer says, "We selected Aptify because it provides a cost-effective and rapid-to-deploy platform for supporting many of our most important operational requirements. We are looking forward to building on that platform to provide more robust support for our diverse global membership."

Aptify's Association Management System (AMS) is built atop its Application Lifecycle Platform that features a .NET and web-services based architecture. The Aptify Platform makes it possible for users and IT professionals to easily configure their system, streamline workflow and automate business processes, while enabling their configurations to be seamlessly upgraded from version to version. Aptify's AMS is comprehensive and includes features and functionality for membership management, subscriptions, meetings and events, fundraising and grants, education, e-Business and more.

Why will ISOC use Aptify?

Aptify is an association management system (AMS), which provides a single software platform for many of ISOC's membership administration and chapter organization needs. This system will allow ISOC staff to more effectively serve the community, and to more quickly implement new capabilities to meet emerging membership requirements. Another central objective for the ISOC AMS, which was integral to the selection process, is the ability to provide an environment for the ISOC community to work together through a common suite of broadly accessible online tools and applications.

How did ISOC choose Aptify? What role did the community play in the selection process?

An AMS project team was created that engaged representatives from all areas of ISOC staff, a Chapter Steering Committee, led by Hans Peter Dittler of the Internet Society's Chapter in Germany, and a vendor-independent consultancy specialising in matching social mission organizations with technology solutions. The Chapter Steering Committee helped (a) define chapter requirements, (b) review current chapter processes, (c) inform chapters of progress with the selection process, and (d) seek further inputs. The Board of Trustees, which represents all facets of ISOC membership, was kept informed at all stages of selection.

Through a series of meetings and ongoing conversations the project team developed and refined comprehensive requirements with prioritized needs. A broadly disseminated Request for Proposals (RfP) based on the requirements and priorities identified by the project team generated 20 responses. These responses came from a variety of companies covering many different kinds of systems. After an initial review, four leading candidates were identified.

A series of in-depth demonstrations and further consideration was given to each of the final candidate systems. The focus was on their ability to meet the community-identified requirements and priorities quickly, flexibly, and cost-effectively. After this extensive process, the project team selected Aptify as being the best option for meeting the needs of the ISOC organization and community.

Why didn't ISOC choose an open source system?

Although Aptify is hosted on a proprietary platform, the project team decided that Aptify's ability to provide the required capabilities out of the box made it the most effective and efficient package to meet the organization's and community's needs. And, while the product itself is not open source, it does use open standards to communicate with a web portal, and has a rich suite of available APIs upon which further capabilities can be built.

Open Source was significant issue considered by the project team throughout the selection process. Of the 20 proposals submitted in response to the RfP, a significant number were Open Source based. However, none were able to meet the fundamental feature requirements, or required significant further development to do so.

For example, several Open Source solutions initially looked promising, but upon close review did not meet some of the core requirements established by the project team, such as multi-level, role-based access and security. Several other Open Source-based responses would have required from-the-ground-up development of a system from currently available software. The one Open Source proposal of the four final candidates that met the basic criteria, withdrew because implementing the required functions exceeded the company's available capabilities.

What are the technical details behind Aptify? Does it conform to open standards?

Aptify is built on a SQL database. The primary entry point for membership will be via a web interface, which will then utilize open standards (SOAP over XML) to interface with the core Aptify application and database. This was an extremely important point for us as we evaluated the product. Our intention is to fully use these open standards to integrate the Aptify product with other Internet applications to create an environment that is both dynamic and efficient for the community needs.

Because Aptify uses open standards to communicate with its web portal, there are a suite of APIs available that ISOC intends to use to integrate it with other product.

What assurance does ISOC have that its data will remain secure and accessible?

The data that will be housed in Aptify will be kept using a SQL database. ISOC will have full access to these servers and data. This will enable us to perform offsite backups (though a backup solution is provided in our hosting agreement) as well as full knowledge of the data schema if it were ever decided to move to a different solution.

Securing membership data is a top priority of ISOC. All communication with the Aptify system will be conducted over SSL or via a secure VPN. As ISOC moves forward in rolling out new applications or releasing APIs, we will conduct proper testing to ensure that the data is secure and that all transactions between client and server pass proper authentication tokens and that all communications between client and server are valid.

For most of the community, access to Aptify capabilities and information will take place through a web interface that was demonstrated to work in browsers on variety of platforms: Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. This will enable ISOC to create web pages that are not only compatible for people with disabilities, but also to incorporate multiple languages. This flexibility was also a key driver in our decision to choose Aptify.

What are the timeline for this project?

Because we are in the very early stages of this project, the closest estimate is that ISOC will be using Aptify in production by the end of 2009. In addition to deploying the new technology, there is a considerable work to be done in migrating data from multiple sources. ISOC intends to keep the community up-to-date on the deployment process through its newsletters, at meetings throughout the year, and a variety of other means. As we move further into migration, implementation, and deployment, we will be able to provide a more definite timeline.

After the basic Aptify platform is in place, it will be extended by a Linux-based Open Source CMS, also hosted directly with the Aptify-system and linked to it with a set of interfaces and APIs. As part of this phase, we look forward to engaging with chapters, members, and others in the community to help set direction and priorities for our efforts.