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SIF Basics - Building a Working Knowledge and Vocabulary of  the Specification and Projecting ROI. MIS 2009. Welcome and Introductions. Agenda. Overview Software Components ZIS Agents Applications SIF Data Objects SIF Data Elements Other Concepts Examples

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sif basics building a working knowledge and vocabulary of the specification and projecting roi

SIF Basics - Building a Working Knowledge and Vocabulary of  the Specification and Projecting ROI

MIS 2009

  • Overview
  • Software Components
    • ZIS
    • Agents
    • Applications
  • SIF Data Objects
  • SIF Data Elements
  • Other Concepts
    • Examples
  • Getting a bang for your buck – ROI and SIF
traditional data systems
Traditional Data Systems








  • The situation in many schools and school systems is that there are a series of software applications which all may require the same data, but which have no way to talk to each other.
  • It may be possible for one or two applications to share data through proprietary methods, but open, dynamic and synchronized data sharing does not occur.





SIF Overview



Network Account



H.R. &



  • Zone Integration Server (ZIS)
  • SIF Agents
  • Applications
  • SIF Data Objects







software components of a sif implementation
Software Components of a SIF Implementation
  • Zone Integration Server (ZIS) – The central point of data exchange in a SIF implementation. Provides queuing, security, and communication services to Agents.
    • Software vs. Hardware
    • SIF Agents – Software which allows an individual application to communicate via the SIF Infrastructure. An agent can publish and/or subscribe data. It sits on top of EACH application and is typically different from application to application. Multiple agents (at least 2) are needed in order to implement SIF.
zone integration server zis
Zone Integration Server (ZIS)
  • Routes messages
  • Controls access – which agents are allowed to see which messages and request which information
  • Persists messages when agents are asleep
  • Configure HTTP or HTTPS transport
  • Health of Zone and Monitoring
agents the universal translator
SIFData Model

Application “Native”

Agents: The Universal Translator
  • SIF Agents have 2 “faces”
  • Translate between the application and the SIF data model
  • Responsible for generating and processing SIF objects




sif agents
SIF Agents
  • Publisher and Subscriber Agents
    • Publish – Events that may be published (currently) include Add, Change, and Delete.
    • Subscribe – The process of “listening” for and processing SIF Events.
  • Integrated vs. Standalone
    • Contains core business logic of Subscribing application
  • Applications – Specific software for a particular department or internal client. Typical SIF applications include SIS, Directory, Transportation, Food Service, Library Science, Assessment, etc.
  • Determining “SIFAbility” of Applications in your network
  • SIF Certified vs. SIF “Compliant”
    • SIF Certification – Part of SIF’s product standard that includes 3rd party verification that the Application and Agent conform to the SIF specification. Certification includes a legal component that guarantees vendors will adapt their software to meet requirements, if needed.
    • SIF Compliance– A general term used by software vendors that are not Certified. Such agents may work with SIF, but lack third party and vendor guarantees of interoperability.
  • Find your Application
    • How to siphon what you need
sif data objects
SIF Data Objects
    • SIF Data Objects – A logical grouping of fields (similar to a database table) within an application that can be shared among applications. SIF’s Data Model defines Data Objects using XML Schema Definition language.
  • The data exchanged using SIF standards
  • Objects comprise the schemas that define information managed by the applications
  • Objects contain specific data elements that serve to characterize them.
  • For example, the StudentPicture Object shown below is made up of three data elements.
sif elements
SIF Elements
  • Objects are expressed using standardized web-based structured data formatting called eXtensible Markup Language [XML]
  • XML allows the creation of customized data tags that enable the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations
  • REFID’s
  • Examples





Dr. John Doe

(999) 9994227







naperville community unit district 203
Naperville Community Unit District 203
  • District profile
    • 18,000+ Students
    • 1,000+ Teachers
  • Systems
    • SIS - Maximus SchoolMAX
    • Parental Communications - ParentLink
    • Human Resources - Carter-Pertain
    • Transportation – VersaTrans
    • Food Service – Comalex
    • Library - Alexandria
    • Data Warehouse - SPSS
other sif concepts
SIF Zone

Logical group of applications, their agents and the ZIS services that manage them

Data for the SIF zone is private to the zone


SIF’s Request/Response protocol allows for data to be requested in its entirety, or filtered via query mechanisms.

Used in Synchronizations

Event Processing

SIF’s Event protocol enables an application to notify other applications in the Zone when something changes.

Daily transactional processing for adds, changes, deletes, etc

Other SIF Concepts
be informed get involved
Be Informed, Get Involved!

Working Groups

  • Assessment
  • Data Warehouse
  • Data Model Task Force
  • Food Services
  • Grade Book
  • Human Resources & Financials
  • Infrastructure
  • Instructional Services
  • Library Automation
  • Professional Development
  • Special Programs
  • Student Information Systems
  • Student Record Exchange
  • Transportation
  • Vertical Reporting
contact information
Contact Information

Jeremy Davidson

SIF Services Program Manager

816 S. Eldorado Rd. | Bloomington, IL  61704

Toll free: 888-764-8126 ext. 190 | Fax: 309-662-6421

[email protected]  | Cell:224-639-2468

Visit our new website

pains addressed by sif
“Pains” Addressed by SIF
  • Situational
    • Fast growth
    • Legacy systems
    • Large student enrollment
    • Small staff size
  • Data
    • Redundant data entry
    • Data accuracy
    • Data integrity
    • Data latency
benefits of sif
Benefits of SIF
  • Data is entered only once, into the authoritative source system, and is shared seamlessly & immediately with other applications
  • Data is exchanged automatically and thus more effectively, without manual import and export processes
  • Near real-time access to important information for better data analysis and information dissemination
  • Ease the burden of vertical reporting to the State
cost benefit example
Cost-Benefit Example
  • Network Account Creation and Management
    • SIF capability
      • Student directory accounts created at registration into SIS
    • Example
      • SIF is used to create and manage user accounts and home directories, eliminating the additional manual step as the student is enrolled
    • Benefit
      • Huge time savings to I.T. department

Does your I.T. staff have more valuable ways to spend its time?

cost benefit example1
Cost-Benefit Example
  • Transportation
    • SIF capability
      • Data accuracy & Saved data entry time
    • Example
      • SIF is used to update the transportation system data from the student information system as the student is enrolled in school
    • Benefit
      • Real time communication of bus stop information is possible for every student
      • Potential liability issues are avoided

How many phone calls could be saved?

How much bad publicity could be avoided?

cost benefit example2
Cost-Benefit Example
  • Food Services
    • SIF capability
      • Data accuracy
    • Example
      • SIF is used to update the student management system with meal status information that is stored in the food services system
    • Benefit
      • Accurate free/reduced lunch count possible.

How much additional funding could be generated?

cost benefit example3
Cost-Benefit Example
  • Assessment Reporting
    • SIF capability
      • Data integrity and accuracy
    • Example
      • SIF is used to intersect demographic data stored in the student management system with state and local assessment results
    • Benefit
      • Administrators, principals and teachers can run reports that utilize the most accurate set of demographics for students

How accurate are your current reports?

How much time does it take to generate reports?

cost benefit example4
Cost-Benefit Example
  • Library
    • SIF capability
      • Near real time information dissemination
    • Example
      • SIF is used to update the library system with up to date student information from the SIS
    • Benefit
      • The media specialist who used to spend 4 hrs a week updating student information and class lists on the computer can reallocate that time towards students
      • (ROI can be seen in better utilization of resources as well as bottom line numbers)
sif benefits
SIF Benefits

Students & Parents

  • Improved teaching and learning processes
  • Availability of school andstudent data
  • Increased efficiency

IT Departments

  • Reduced support costs
  • Reduced time needed to manage multiple data sources
  • Save money using existing systems and infrastructure


  • Real-time access to critical information
  • Better data analysis
  • Teachers time better spent


  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced redundancy & errors
  • Reduced compatibility issues