SIF Specifications have always been more than just a collaboratively built technical standard...
They strive to include all the components to model interoperable solutions so that products can be created – very different from almost all other “blueprints”. We refer to these as “implementation specifications”.
SIF Implementation Specifications address two critical pieces:
- The Data Model which includes the set of XML or JSON schemas that define the payload formats of educational “objects” as they are exchanged between SIF-compliant applications.
- The Infrastructure which defines the transport and messaging functionality of the secure and robust “wire” over which those payloads are securely exchanged.
Taken together this means different products, potentially from different sources, can share data with minimal configuration – very different from almost all other “blueprints”.
All SIF Implementation Specifications are based on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) endorsed Extensible Markup Language (XML) which is not linked to a specific operating system. XML is both 'platform independent and vendor neutral' and defines common data formats and rules of interaction and architecture.
SIF 2x Implementation Specifications
Stemming from a LAN centric paradigm, releases employing the SIF 2 infrastructure comprise many shared data solutions. This focus prescribes a solid enterprise environment powered by middleware. The result is an established ecosystem of products that demand attention. It strives to bring all applicable best practices and technical standards into a cohesive system. From XML Schemas to TLS negotiated encryption it would not be simple, secure, or scalable without starting out with standards.
The following 2.x functionality is at the heart of why SIF is the most implemented technical blueprint in education today:
- Automated Service Discovery
- Guaranteed Message Delivery
- Content Based Routing
- Service Registry and Service Governance Administrative hooks
- Publish / Subscribe Modes
- Baked-in security enforcement (Authentication, Authorization and Encryption)
SIF 3x Implementation Specifications
Releases powered by the SIF 3 infrastructure are a different story all together. They are designed for a cloud centric world, regardless of enterprise integration or lightweight data extraction. Significant changes have been made to the previous infrastructure components including:
- Data Independence: The SIF 3 Infrastructure is now completely independent of the Data Model defining the payloads it carries. As a result, SIF 3 infrastructure products can be deployed in SIF solutions of all three locales (US, AU and UK) without change.
- Fully incorporates REST technology: The earlier SIF-specific transport has been replaced by one which is fully-compliant with the standard REST design patterns. As a result, SIF 3 solutions will “look like everything else in the educational organization’s data center” and recruiting programming and support personnel for SIF 3 projects will be far easier.
- Middleware is Optional: SIF 3 offers a new architectural alternative designed specifically with mobile devices and the cloud in mind, which supports the direct connection of clients to services without requiring an intervening message broker.
- Increased Scalability: SIF 3 solutions are far more scalable than earlier releases in both performance and organizational coverage. Performance enhancements include the critical ability to carry multiple objects per message, while organization expansion now provides every client access to multiple providers of the same object type (for example, SIS or MIS) separated by site (for example, a specific school), subtype (for example, Special Education) and / or context (this year's students or next year's).
Each SIF Specification release comes with a recommendation from the locale Management Board as to which infrastructure version should be used with the corresponding data model.
To find out more information, please review The SIF Specifications section.