Enabling change by streamlining student data communication between disparate systems
As part of NUI Galway’s multi-year, multi-project Academic Simplification programme, the existing student marks return solution was identified as an area which needed to be reviewed.
The existing system was over twenty years in existence and required modernisation. After reviewing requirements, a project was initiated and funded (ORE - Online Results Entry) project.
The goal for the Online Results Project was to provide the design and implementation of a new enterprise, highly available, user friendly online results solution using a secure data integration and messaging layer (integration layer- based on the Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services) which allows the University to;
- Facilitate NUI Galway in improving its control and management of the data communication process between disparate systems.
- Define an architecture pattern for future integrations and which facilitates a rich reporting capability.
A solution architecture for the marks return using an Integration Layer was developed. This involved understanding the as-is messaging environment, the technical capabilities and preferences of system vendors, analysing the various communication protocols, assessing potential solutions and recommending a platform to supports student marks delivery into the future.
The data integration layer design allowed the flow of data easily from one enterprise application to another. The current design for the Online Results Entry project contains a minimum of three vendors with associated enterprise application software. This new solution requires all applications are integrated and easily capable of transferring and accepting data from each other. Each application has pre-defined methods of providing and accepting data into/out of their application. Therefore the data integration layer needs to be capable of accepting multiple methods of data input/output.
The core technical components of the Integration Layer were delivered by creating the centralised data store using SQL Server, by managing Extract Transform and Load (ETL activities) using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) packages and by creating .NET add-ons where the out-of-the-box functionality of SSIS required extending.