Video- Service Oriented Architectures
Results are logged by a virtual learning environment, but how much of that data is shared with a management system that is tracking progression against funding? MyGrid is a project that provides a shared toolkit for creating experiments by coordinating the information flow between distributed resources and services. It is in this context that the e-Framework, a successful and expanding international initiative, works to make sense of the service-oriented approach for the education and research community.
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The service-oriented approach to linking software systems and applications is transforming the way many organizations share data. This approach improves existing methods of data sharing, by providing a service layer between systems. Sharing data between applications is a well-established principle that works on a simple level. As systems expand, the solution that connects two software applications will often not work for a third. What began as a workable system, then locks valuable data in a silo. Sharing the data is still possible, but requires adaptations and tweaks. The process is laborious and time consuming, leading to bottlenecks and overload. The reality of this world is unnecessary effort expended in duplication of data. By applying a service layer to the applications you wish to connect up, data is offered up in a common format for reuse elsewhere. The service-oriented approach works with existing software systems and does not require you to remove the monolithic application. Replacement applications reuse the links already made and can plug into the service layer without affecting other users of the data. New applications can be added to grow overall system architectures in the same way. The data in each application, is offered up as a service which any other application can consume. When the service-oriented approach is evolved into a system-wide architecture, it allows connections and service sharing opportunities between organizations nationally and globally. Take monitoring of student progress for example. Results are logged by a virtual learning environment, but how much of that data is shared with a management system that is tracking progression against funding? If the motivation and commitment of struggling students is not addressed and they decide to walk away, there is a direct impact on funding. If the data is freed up and shared across a system using a service-oriented approach, it could contribute to retaining student motivation, and thereby maximizing income. And what if across the education community, there was one standard and agreed way to describe a course? It would allow course information to be made available as a consumable service, both internally and externally. This is the subject of a current project called Exchanging Course Related Information or XCRI, encompassing course marketing, quality assurance, enrollment, and reporting requirements. This service-oriented approach enables aggregated organizations, like UCAS, to gather the standard and agreed descriptions of courses from each provider. Comprehensive details of approved enrollment opportunities, are then returned to a prospective student for easy and accurate comparison. Amongst the research community, it is the same principle. Here, the service-oriented approach is enabling researchers to work across institutions in virtual organizations. MyGrid is a project that provides a shared toolkit for creating experiments by coordinating the information flow between distributed resources and services. Workflows and query specifications link together remote and local resources using web service protocols. Workflows created by myGrid represent the scientific process of the experiments they enact, making them a rich resource for scientists creating their own new experiments. The service layer to this data enables users to share, re-use, and re-purpose experiments within the myGrid community. Many education and research services are already developing a service-oriented approach taking their lead from the business world and major software developers. It is in this context that the e-Framework, a successful and expanding international initiative, works to make sense of the service-oriented approach for the education and research community. The e-Framework website identifies and describes the service components needed. It provides the blueprints and reference example for those in the community who want to gain a greater understanding and knowledge of how to implement a service-oriented approach. The e-Framework website is thus becoming a knowledge base that is developing a shared vocabulary and way of thinking for all in education and research.
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