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How To Integrate Your School’s External Systems With Legacy SIS Platforms

As a CIO in higher education, you understand the necessity of the myriad applications, databases, and systems your school’s faculty and staff use to keep track of everything from grades to finances. In the same way that agility has become a buzzword in the world of business, advances in educational technology have allowed schools to join the agile revolution as well, making use of mobile, cloud computing, and SaaS applications to make processes more efficient.

But as a CIO, you are also privy to unique insight into the difficulties that using such a hodge-podge of applications and platforms can bring along with it. You’ve got your legacy Student Information System platform, massive and vital to everything done on campus. Then you may have other on-premises legacy systems that work alongside it. And then there are all the external applications you’ve added over the years. One for grades and attendance. One for financial aid. One for admissions, and one for Customer Relations Management.

All of these systems play an important role in the running of your institution, but each one comes with a price. Implementation, training, and the ever-present necessity of data transfer between systems make each addition a challenge. Yes, each one helps to streamline processes in its own way, but it also creates new headaches in another. Wouldn’t it be helpful if a solution existed to take each of these systems and allow them all to communicate with each other, thus eliminating the need to spend time and other resources on keeping them all coordinated and up-to-date?

That solution exists, and it can be found in N2N’s Integration Cloud for Higher Education.

NIC acts as a translator between all of your school’s existing systems, whether on-premises or in the cloud. It integrates them all into one central hub, so that data entered into any one of them is instantly sent to all others, as needed.

This central hub is known as an Enterprise Service Bus, and it allows for several benefits above and beyond even the integration and communication it enables. One of these is simple – and yet essential – peace of mind. When transmitting data between applications, it reduces PII and FERPA risks by limiting the amount of information communicated to only the minimum required for that particular transaction, ensuring that the transaction itself is done securely according to rules set in place, and then removing its copy of the data once each transaction has been successfully completed.

But perhaps most importantly, by integrating your school’s systems, and facilitating secure communication between them, the N2N Integration Cloud for Higher Education can help your school accomplish its main goal – student success. When data can be seen across systems and applications, a more complete picture of each and every student’s situation becomes available, and thus every student can more easily be supported where needed.

NIC increases an institution’s efficiency and productivity, boosts student success, and makes life easier for everyone on campus. Isn’t it time you took a closer look at NIC for your own school? Contact N2N Services today for more information.

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What is the N2N Integration Cloud?

The N2N Integration Cloud, or NIC, is a strategic and adaptable combination of technologies, starting with a flexible, reliable and secure cloud infrastructure platform. It adds to this a set of optimized core applications and services and an industry-leading Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), all managed for security and performance by N2N’s professional systems administration team. The NIC even adds in access to experienced implementation staff with detailed knowledge of both the ESB and the business and education applications to be connected to the ESB.

N2N Cloud Architecture - ESB Overview

Why is this important?

Many institutions often have a portfolio of cloud-based systems and these systems are complex and often not interoperable. Many colleges and universities even have a mix of services from multiple cloud providers, as well as both legacy and strategic systems that are still run locally. This leaves many wondering: how can an educational enterprise manage this suite of interconnected systems, especially in today’s environment of constrained budgets? The first solution that many attempt to implement is point-to-point integration.

Integration complexity - mesh connection

The problem is that these systems scale upwards very quickly, each new item introduced adds more connections than the previous, and the technicians taking care of the setup need to be familiar with not just the system or the individual item they are interested in, but both at the same time. This means that a single item can’t be worked on without having to pay attention to every connection it has as well.


The Solution

This is where the NIC steps in. As an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), it acts as a central hub to link everything together. With the hub capable of taking data from one item and transforming it into which format another needs, it drastically reduces the number of linkages down to only a single new connection for each item, the connection to the NIC.

Integration complexity - integration bus

The NIC is like a highway leading between several cities and a system without it would be connecting the cities with individual roads. Whenever one city wants to do infrastructure planning or new zoning without that highway, they have to ensure that each individual road leading to each other city stays connected to prevent being cut off. This gives every new change significant hidden costs for every other city in the area. With the highway, the city only needs to maintain the road leading out to that highway in order to stay connected to all the other cities. Just Like any vehicle can travel through the highway entering from any city and then leaving at whichever city it needs to get to, data can move through the NIC to go to whichever system it needs to reach.

Concept of Cloud Computing

So, What Exactly is iPaaS?

When cloud computing burst onto the scene, it took a while for businesses to see the possibilities. What exactly was this new technology? Was it safe? Was it practical? Was it cost-effective?

As people began to use and understand the cloud, they saw that the answer to all their questions was a resounding yes, that using cloud applications was no different from using locally installed applications. The cloud allowed businesses to easily store and access data and applications using any device, without having to deal with expensive hardware purchases. This boosted productivity and efficiency, while driving down costs.

Here at N2N Services, we give schools access to all the benefits of the cloud via our N2N Integration Cloud.

But that’s not all that NIC does.

Evolving technology allows us to view cloud-based systems as consolidated platforms rather than single applications. This has led us to the concept of the iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service. ). And that’s exactly what the N2N Integration Cloud is.

Organizations use iPaaS as a central hub to integrate every single one of the applications they use – whether cloud-based or on-premise.

So for example, if an institution has a legacy system in place on-premises, and also uses a few cloud-based SaaS applications from different companies – and needs the flexibility to add even more applications in future – iPaaS creates a single, simple platform through which data can pass between any and all of those systems. But even better, iPaaS acts as a translator for each application, fully integrating all of them so that communication between them is seamless.

This is what NIC does for schools.

Using iPaaS means there is no hardware to install in many cases, except as may be required for some types of system connections. It means that there is no on-premises middleware to manage and support between applications or between school and system. Our “concierge approach,” leveraging the iPaaS means we provide application integration as a service, with no lengthy training required for implementation. It simply and elegantly integrates all application data into one central system.

One  dashboard in the NIC allows administrators to view and monitor transactions that pass through the system to ensure that information input into any one application will instantly be shared with all other participating applications as well, so that all systems are always up-to-date and coordinated.

All this sharing and communication does not, however, translate into less data security. On the contrary, an iPaaS allows for central management and monitoring of data transfers, helping to ensure compliance with all regulations.

What it does translate into is the ability to reallocate human resources to tasks more important than simple data transactions, or as we like to say, “transaction herding.” No longer will employees need to update several different systems with new data, or search through several different applications to find information. iPaaS automates those tedious tasks, freeing up resources for other projects.

The N2N Integration Cloud is an iPaaS offering designed specifically for educational institutions. We here at N2N Services understand the unique needs of educational institutions, and have created a system that applies the latest in enterprise technology to the world of higher education. Contact us today for more information on how the N2N Integration Cloud works, and how it can benefit your school, your faculty and staff, and your students.