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We have an API for that…

This is what more and more marketplace providers are promoting for ‘ease of use’ of their products.  In contrast, more and more school CIO-types are stating that the bevy of APIs they must utilize (plus the constant changes made to them), have become a data management nightmare.  Since the A4L Community supports vendors and end users, it makes sense for us to look for ways to standardize and simplify.  The idea: standardize an infrastructure for data transport that can carry any data model ‘on the wire’.

In 2011, the A4L Community – led by the Management Board – separated the SIF Data Model from the SIF Infrastructure to allow it to carry ANY data model. The globally used SIF Infrastructure defines the transport and messaging functionality over the ‘wire’ where data are securely exchanged – no matter the payload/data model. The standardized Infrastructure has been third-party ‘load tested’ and results show no ‘data bottlenecks’. Without over-stressing a performance load test, over 200 million data messages were sent in an hour!

Now the A4L Community is reaching out to other standards groups that have well-developed data models but no suggested transport.  This work is being done under the auspices of the Data Standards United (DSU) collaborative.  The DSU is not a new organization, but a voluntary collaborative of some of the world’s most widely used data standards from education to workplace, engineering to health professions, all for lifelong learning. DSU’s vision is to collaborate and align standards to support the global education and workforce digital ecosystem.

The use cases for utilizing the standard infrastructure are piling up:  A PESC Transcript data model on the infrastructure, the continued alignment with CEDS in data modeling and transport, and exploration with other partners including medical, HR, employment, etc. organizations – so stay tuned!

If interested drop a line to Dr. Larry Fruth II, PhD at lfruth@a4l.org

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