Thx...so would each school need to run a ZIS server to adopt SIF?
SIF in the UK is still at the pilot stage, so there isn't much out there yet (it's due to go into pilot in Birmingham in the near future). Once the pilot has proved successful there would no doubt be some discussions to take the project forward on a national scale, at which time schools should start to become more aware of the project and the implications/benefits. No doubt in the future SIF certification of software will become a much more important factor to schools and LEAs.
Development of analysis tools for SIF would be a matter of writing an agent for the software that allows it to process the messages that the SIF model use for data transfer and allow it to talk to the ZIS (the main SIF "server" that sits in the middle of all the agents and orchestrates the show). The amount of data available for analysis software to process would be limited by the data that falls under the SIF data specifications, but the likelihood is that this will increase as the SIF data model matures. You only need to look at the situation in the USA (which is where the SIF model was first developed) to see how a mature system can work, but you need to remember that the USA don't tend to have a concept of a monolithic MIS system that sits in the middle of their data, and rely more on a system of smaller apps that are focused on specific functions.
Thx...so would each school need to run a ZIS server to adopt SIF?
It would largely depend on the topology adopted by your LEA. In the vast majority of cases, they would have a single ZIS that sits in the middle and uses zones to packet each school off from each other. Your local agents would then connect to the central ZIS. Of course, all the data is transferred over ssl connections, so there shouldn't be any security issues associated with SIF, and all the data for each school would be isolated from other schools too, so there's no chance that others in your LEA could be snooping on your SIF messages.
You could set up a local ZIS in your school if you really wanted, I suppose, but you would have to factor in the costs of hosting your own ZIS vs the benefits it might bring, if you'd be mainly using it just to extract data internally for analysis then my guess is it wouldn't be cost effective.
LEA hosting the ZIS is obviously best.
SSL to move data around is a no-brainer...would anyone seriously move data between schools/LEAs etc any other way???
Just to supplement the above information, SIF is presently part of the interoperability review carried out by Capgemini within the bigger picture of LA & cross central Goverment department needs for data interchange agenda.
As to time frame - th emost recent communication from DCSF recent says: " ... the review report is in final draft and is being considered by the Department and Becta, as the UK lead educational technology agency. Once we and they are satisfied with the analysis and recommendations, the report will be referred to the BIS/DCSF Information and Technology Strategy Board to consider.
It will be a while yet before we can publish anything although we do understand the need to inform suppliers quickly of any policy decisions."
We asked DCSF and it appears that this information can be shared publicly.
So we are happy to do so with EduGeek forum -please see the attached.
Bromcom has been one of the most vocal party for 'interoparability' and 'open systems' since way back in 1990s and it will continue to be so!
So Bromcom has built-in SIF support?
Last edited by Dos_Box; 8th February 2010 at 06:24 PM.
There is a possibility of having one ZIS per RBC, with 100's for schools connected with 10's of agents connecting getting overloaded if large messages are being set.
We are currently using SIF to move data from school MIS's to MOODLE, but currently very few LA's are Implementing SIF as implementing Identity Management first, then allowing other applications access. So we are implementing a ZIS within schools.
In short the answer is no. A uncertified agent can talk to either a certified or uncertified ZIS.
The main question is do you want to use a uncertified agent or ZIS?
All agents will be uncertified agains the lastest version of the spec as the certification is only on 1.1 soon to be 1.3.
We are writing our agent to 1.2 an it can test against 1.3 as the objects we use are the same.
Bromcom became the very first UK company to be a member of SIF in US in the year 2000. Bromcom demonstarted to DCSF (then DfES) and other MIS suppliers the concept of SIF in obe of the meetings in the year 2000 where CBDS data items were being agreed. For the obvious reason it was not supported then.
Bromcom since 1990s fought very hard for 'interoperability'. Early 2000s made case to DCSF within e-GIF policy and sought support for a length of time from DCSF. We were not supported and our efforts were frustrated. In teh end we had to resort to OFT (Office of Fair Trading) in the year 2002/2003 where we secured Voluntary Assurance from Capita in 2003 - please see other thread on this. Such work is very costly and time consuming. It demands substantial technical and management resources. However it has been essential to secure a practical 'interoperability' that exists today for majority of our customers.
Since early 2000s & SIF
Sadly with OFT taking priority, for Bromcom SIF has been on back burners seeing DCSF's inability/unwillingness to get it mandated. However we are encouraged with the recent draft proposal that DCSF may fund the developments under IMPS MuO. Bromcom reviewing the developments and plans to fast track with SIF specially if DCSF proposal to fund a 'joint developement' and mandates it.
We have a scheduled meeting of "working group" with all MIS suppliers MoU Mk2 (SIF funding is also covered) which will take place in Becta with other MIS suppliers later this month. We are happy to keep the forum updated if asked.
Otherwise, it might be cheaper just to pay for the SIMS SQL partnership programme instead...
It will be interesting to see which of our partners select SIF for real-time access to SIMS; browser access to SIMS via SIF agents wouldn't exactly be responsive!
I'm not hopeful that in the current climate DCSF will be able to fund SIF - take a look at the estimated costs at:
Just for the record Capita has served on the SIFA Board since it started; played a very significant role in devising the UK data model and has encouraged SIFA to address the security issues that would have been problematical in the UK. I'm pleased to say that most of our issues other than cost have been addressed.
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