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MIS Systems Thread, MIS & Data Interoperability in Technical; I have been having an interesting debate with a fellow educationalist about what is important about data interoperability and the ...
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    GREED's Avatar
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    Question MIS & Data Interoperability

    I have been having an interesting debate with a fellow educationalist about what is important about data interoperability and the availability of tools to enable data to be easily accessable from an/any MIS.

    There is no question that data availability inside and importantly outside the MIS is critical (My former employment taught me some lessons there). But how should that be accessed? Should this be through an open API? Through supplier tools? Through third party managed tools?

    There are many interests to suppliers of third parties in particular, often the simplest solution from a schools perspective is not always the easiest, cheapest or best solution long term for software suppliers.

    Indeed, does the concept of supplier built tools add an air of 'lock-in', does such a premise give the MIS supplier too much control, or allow them to manage the internal data processing and other overheads to an acceptable limit?

    Any and all thought from all welcome.

    (PS this is a general interest from a debate I am having, in no way is it related to my current work, so please do not assume this is advertising nor fishing)
    Last edited by GREED; 15th February 2014 at 01:15 PM.

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    I can't imagine any MIS cloud supplier wanting a third party creating routes into the tables. The supplier is responsible for performance and will incur costs if inefficient code is accessing tables not to mention concerns over bypassing all validation checks.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    How do you legislate for that though Phil? The performance aspects I mean

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    The only realistically feasible way of ensuring data interoperability that I can think of is for the government to draw up a single API for all MIS providers to implement.

    It will, of course, only ever be able to handle a subset of data as different solutions will innovate in different ways, so exporting that data for use in another system might be impossible etc...

    The current solution for moving between MIS systems is woefully inadequate to say the least.

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    Data Exchange will provide and push part of this. But not MIS migration

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    Government IT projects generally fail!

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Do you believe DE will?

    I cannot say I forsee it failing it is now so far into it would damage so much given a lot is waiting on completion. It's nice working on the inside for a little bit

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    Let's just say its "courageous" to quote "Yes Minister"

  9. Thanks to PhilNeal from:

    matt40k (15th February 2014)

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Bit before my time....

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    You should listen them on iPlayer. Nothing changes in politics!!

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    matt40k (15th February 2014)

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Ah you guys, you do make me laugh. I fear Phil may be bang on the money, when I read you post about Data Exchange it did remind me of ContactPoint - a brilliant idea which died a death when someone else stepped into no10 and the public head was turned to another problem. Lets hope it does not endure the same fate.

    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    How do you legislate for that though Phil? The performance aspects I mean
    Way I would do it is to have core tables, then have a third party tables that you charge third parties to use, price would depend on things like column type. This would insure the single location for all MIS data, allow third parties to have enough control but not have to worry about a million and one things like security. They would of course still have to use the same "framework" to access the data.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilNeal View Post
    accessing tables not to mention concerns over bypassing all validation checks.
    You don't access tables anymore Phil, that's so last gen. You would use something like MVC then you could give third parties access to the "API" layer so it goes via the same logic as your UI.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    I sorry... charge? And you talk about being so last gen?

    You might want to do a little bit of research there (I have, you see ), the charging model is becoming a dying breed within the MIS community.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    It is funny actually within the halls of the DfE building, ContactPoint is taboo and you get stares if you say it out loud!

    This project too was started long ago, the essence of it goes back to the BECTA report which was last government. End of the day DE (well, the data warehouse part) is a long overdue replacement for COLLECT as well as incorporating about a dozen other interfaces and databases dating back nearly 20 years. Cancelling at stage will leave the department we virtually nothing, as well as leaving the UK in the comparative dark ages compared to the likes of the US and Australia who are also moving along similar lines when it comes to data exchanging with the government and each other (schools).

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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    I sorry... charge? And you talk about being so last gen?
    I've yet to see a free solution mate. Everything I see costs. For example...

    I can contact SIMS, get the business objects then import\export anything and everything. I do so, and I also write back to\from whatever system I have. Let's ignore the cost of writing the interface and any other costs I may or may not incur. Then have to pay for someone to maintain this interface, for the interface to be security check (PEN testing for example) then actual physical hw costs which alas I cannot escape.

    My idea, you'd just be paying the storage cost to the MIS provider. Which regards of how you look at it, you'll be paying anyway as it costs to store data. Just my idea, you're refining the design and cutting out any extras that are not needed. You also get get the benefits of 1 system also, such as one login, but you wouldn't be limited to 1 software provider. Of course this would only work if the MIS provider that did this, kept to it's core features.

    RE: DfE yer, I can image. The whole one warehouse idea really needs to happen and it's good to see the whole 1 domain thing coming together under gov.uk (type thing).

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    GREED's Avatar
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    I'm talking MIS providers charging for their API or inbuilt interface. I think if you look around you will find there is no charge for many a provider now. Yes you have all the other charges in terms of development etc, but not paying just for the privilege...

    Don't worry this is part of my questioning to put to MIS suppliers next month
    Last edited by GREED; 16th February 2014 at 09:32 AM.

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