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Remarkable Growth and Partnerships: A Year of Progress for Amos

This year has been an exceptional journey for Amos, marked by substantial growth in both our client base and project expansions with existing clients. Our success has prompted us to extend our team across various facets of our business, a testament to the strides we’ve made.

Central to our accomplishments are the invaluable partnerships we’ve cultivated with our clients. We are deeply honoured to collaborate with exceptional individuals within our user base, whose support and collaboration drive our motivation to deliver exceptional services.

A significant highlight this year was welcoming Jan Navratil to our team. Initially brought on board to lend his expertise to a strategic technology project, Jan has now taken the helm of our technology division. With a background rooted in delivering solutions to Higher Education, Jan played a pivotal role in the development of the Quercus product at Ellucian. His visionary leadership was instrumental in enabling Ellucian to deliver cutting-edge pure SaaS solutions.

At Amos, we recognize that our clients are at the heart of our success. Their trust and confidence in our services propel us to consistently strive for excellence in everything we do.

Some Key Numbers:


Prioritising Security: Validation through HECVAT Evaluation in 2023

In our industry, security stands as a constant priority. In 2023, we underwent a comprehensive evaluation through the HECVAT assessment, measuring both our organisation and products against the stringent Security Framework NIST SP 800-171r1.

We’re delighted to share that the assessment results validated our unwavering commitment to maintaining high standards of quality and security. This evaluation serves as a testament to our dedication in ensuring the utmost security measures are in place for our products and services.

For access to the complete assessment report, kindly visit the RESEARCH & EDUCATION NETWORKS INFORMATION SHARING & ANALYSIS CENTER –  HECVAT CBI.

 

Amos Connect: A Year of Milestones in 2023

Amos Connect stands as our flagship Integration as a Service offering tailored for Higher Education. It serves as a pivotal link, connecting systems seamlessly across campuses and institutions.

The year 2023 has been monumental for Amos Connect, marked by significant advancements. We’re excited to share that we’ve successfully introduced several new connectors, elevating and enriching our Integration as a Service platform. These new additions have not only enhanced the platform’s capabilities but have also attracted numerous new clients, thereby expanding our reach and reaffirming our dedication to delivering exceptional integration solutions.

Our commitment to continuous improvement is reflected in our substantial investment in expanding the product roadmap. This forward-thinking approach embraces innovative technologies that promise to simplify and make integration implementation more accessible and cost-effective.

Key Achievements in Numbers:

Case Study Highlight:

Check out our success story with the Royal Central College of Speech and Drama here. It showcases our impactful solutions and the value we bring to our clients.

 

Empowering Quercus Users: Enhancements and Collaborative Projects in 2023

Throughout 2023, our commitment to assisting Quercus users in optimising their systems remained unwavering. We dedicated ourselves to ensuring their systems operated efficiently, stayed secure, and aligned seamlessly with the ever-evolving Ellucian technology roadmap. Moreover, collaboration with our clients resulted in several projects aimed at enhancing Quercus functionality and implementing new modules, tailored to meet evolving needs.

One of the significant challenges encountered by our Quercus users in 2023 was the introduction of Ellucian Experience, designed to support HESA Data Futures and UCAS xml processes within Higher Education institutions in the UK. This transition necessitated a comprehensive reconfiguration of the Quercus system, alongside the adoption of a new communication approach with statutory bodies. Addressing this challenge demanded a concerted effort, wherein we worked closely with our clients and Ellucian to ensure a seamless integration of these new functionalities while maintaining operational continuity.

 

Innovative Modules: Addressing Unique Client Needs in System Development

A pivotal area of growth for us has been the design, development, and successful implementation of complementary modules tailored to the specific needs of our clients. Recognising that many clients operate enterprise systems requiring specialised functionalities beyond standard off-the-shelf solutions, we’ve excelled in bridging this gap.

Our approach involves an interactive model of system development that places the end-user experience at the forefront. Collaborating closely with end-users, we’ve crafted user-friendly systems that boast security, scalability, and seamless integration with their enterprise systems. This interactive development model ensures that the systems we create align precisely with the unique requirements of each client.

Notably, we’ve delivered these solutions as fully integrated Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. This means that clients can entrust us with the day-to-day management and maintenance of these systems, allowing them to focus on their core operations without concerns about system upkeep.

 

Looking Ahead to 2024: Embracing Innovation and Growth

The upcoming year holds tremendous promise for Amos as institutions increasingly prioritise cloud migration, highlighting the need for modernised integration solutions. For those choosing to remain outside the cloud, the value of Integration as a Service (IAAS) has become apparent, offering reduced technical debt and heightened security.

We’re excited to announce the launch of several intriguing new modules in 2024. These modules are versatile, capable of functioning as stand-alone solutions or seamlessly integrating with core student systems. Our dedication to innovation means providing flexible and adaptable tools that cater to the evolving needs of our clients.

We recently had a discussion with Andy Youell, Executive Director – Digital and Regulation at University College of Estate Management (UCEM), regarding his insights on the challenges confronting Higher Education in 2024. Here are some key points from our conversation:

The primary challenge revolves around budgetary pressures due to ongoing reductions in real-terms funding. This enduring trend necessitates a proactive approach to enhancing efficiencies and reducing overall costs. At UCEM, our approach emphasises simplification to standardise and rationalise our IT infrastructure by leveraging standardised components and methods, thereby mitigating cost and risk exposure.

The second significant challenge pertains to cybersecurity. The evolving threat landscape demands vigilant attention from every senior leadership team and Board. A well-managed IT infrastructure fortified with appropriate controls and assurance is imperative to minimise risks in this critical area, with emphasis on fostering a security-conscious culture among personnel.

The third major issue for 2024 concerns the policy and operational environment. While a UK General Election may not promptly affect tertiary education priorities, other ongoing changes will place substantial demands on data and systems capabilities. The implementation of Data Futures has served as a wake-up call for many institutions, and additional alterations in funding and regulations—such as CTER in Wales and the Lifelong Learning Entitlement in England—will further influence and extend the requirements for data and information that institutions must provide.

Read more about Andy at https://www.andyyouell.com/

 

Join Our Team

If you’re passionate about cutting-edge technology and seeking an opportunity to be part of a dynamic team, we’d love to hear from you. Explore career opportunities with us at Amos by reaching out to hello@amos.ie.

In many higher education institutions, the first people to find out about broken system integrations are the students themselves.

We mentioned this in our post on outsourcing your data integration vs. bringing it in house.

When students are the lifeblood of your institution the reputational damage this causes can be costly. As such it’s worth putting a high value on making sure the integrations between systems, programs and databases are maintained and well structured.

When they aren’t it can create problems. After decades in the industry, we know this all too well. In this post we look at how integration affects the student experience and what can happen if it goes wrong.

 

1 – Maintaining access to buildings

Technology is in many areas of education including door access for teaching rooms, buildings, and labs.

You don’t want students getting locked out, so it’s imperative that their ID is regularly updated. If there’s been changes to course data, this needs to be changed in the access code.

A problem may arise when a variation of a course is created but the new code doesn’t communicate with the door system, resulting in access not being granted to those who should have it.

Whilst you may be able to provide a one-time fix for these issues, you end up fighting fires rather than avoiding the problem in the first place.

This issue could also pop up in campus accommodation. If an integration has failed between a student’s ID card and the door system to their accommodation block, guess who’s going to realise first? The student, and often on the day they move in.

It’s an unfortunate first impression that could be avoided if that small but pivotal integration is monitored.

 

2 – Lack of IT support

When integrations fail, you ideally want your in house IT team to solve the issue. The sticking point for HE institutions is that the IT team’s ability to fix the issue usually depends on whether it occurs during office hours. Very few universities offer IT support outside 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Amongst larger organisations with hundreds to thousands of IT users, this is uncommon. Integration breaks and data spills can happen at any time. But even if something goes wrong during the week, it may not be discovered until after Uni has finished for the week when students are planning their schedule or checking details of an upcoming assessment.

Having to wait until everything resumes on a Monday morning to get the issues resolved, is highly inconvenient and can have a knock-on effect for individual students.

 

3 – Making enrollment smooth

The building access example above assumes the student has an ID card with the right credentials on, but we’ve also seen students have issues getting the ID card in the first place.

Whether enrollment happens on the day students move in or afterwards, you want that process to be as seamless as possible. After all, there are a lot of students to get through.

A key integration here is the one between the student information system and the one which produces and prints ID cards. You don’t want this to break on the day when students are turning up in their droves ready to begin their HE experience.

This is particularly true for international students who are coming to the UK to study in greater numbers each year. Many will pay their fees on the day they enrol, so you’re also dealing with large cash transactions, it is far simpler with integration to online payment systems. This needs to be a pain free process for both parties.

 

4 – Up to date timetable changes

One of the most common issues we’re aware of is when timetabling and room allocation integrations fail.

Imagine you’re a student turning up for your first lecture, only to find that the room is bursting at the seams with students, and some have to sit on the floor because the room is way over capacity.

Of course rooms and lecture theatres are allocated based on how many students are on the course. But this information changes, and those changes are not always free flowing.

Timetabling integration is often a one-off feed with course data transferred manually. Earlier in the year, after looking at things like prospective students and previous course numbers, a room will be allocated. The timetable is ready to go. Or is it?

What many institutions don’t account for is how clearing can affect this process. In 2022, 53,000 students obtained university places through clearing, which is the largest amount in a decade. With more students being added to courses they didn’t apply for, after A Level Results are released, those numbers can completely change.

If the feedback loop for this information is not fast enough, you get a situation like the above. With clearing being a big part of many universities’ business process, timetabling data needs to be sent more frequently, before the start of term.

The core problem is often down to two different teams, with different tasks, not communicating. A bird’s eye view is needed and a team who knows both systems inside and out.

 

5 – Considering the needs of mature students 

Another reason why integration for the above areas is so important is the various demographics studying at university today. It’s not just young people on the cusp of their twenties.

We mentioned international students above but there has also been a surge in mature students enrolling. With Covid 19 proving to be a catalyst for changing careers, there will be mature students at your institution who have different needs and requirements outside of education.

One basic need is for timetabling to be clear. Many mature students are organising childcare and travel around their studies, with far busier schedules than many younger students.

When rooms and lectures change at the last minute or information is not communicated far enough in advance, it can mean these students miss out on tuition they are paying for.

 

6 – The importance of reputation 

Ultimately a negative student experience reflects badly on the university’s reputation.

Other slip-ups that result from failures in manual data transfer include graduation invitations being sent to a student the day after their enrolment. Yes, this has happened! Not only that, but when the student decides to accept said invitation, you have a problem on your hands.

The real issue is that every student who has a negative experience can become a ‘keyboard warrior’. Bad press. Viral tweets. Every time someone writes about a bad experience online, they are potentially persuading another prospective student not to come to your institution.

They won’t know it’s because of poorly managed integrations but in a competitive market, the small stuff matters. There’s a very real value attached to it.

 

Give integration the attention it deserves

We’ve got plenty more examples of where database and system integration failures have resulted in a poor student or staff experience.

Investing in hidden IT infrastructure is often not the most popular choice, but it’s a vital consideration.

One solution people go for is buying a new system, but applying the same manual processes that are often at fault for the issues above.

With Amos, you transfer the responsibility of integration to an expert team who know higher education systems and software, have automated tools and can prevent problems from happening before they do.

Up to date timetables within hours? Check. Relevant assessments updated on Canvas or Blackboard when a student changes course? Check. ID cards with all relevant access ready to go for enrolment day? Check.

Don’t fight fires on individual cases when the problem has already occurred. Make integration a priority and let Amos look after it.

 

Want to know more? Chat directly to a member of our team today.

Send us an email hello@amos.com

Server, database, and system integrations are integral to the success of an academic institution. Many outsource the job to a dedicated provider, or you can bring it in-house for your IT team to work on.

Either way, despite its importance, it rarely seems like the most interesting thing you could be doing with your IT budget. It’s a bit like spending money on a brand-new house extension whilst the plumbing also needs sorting. You can show off the extension, after all.

But your neighbours won’t be so impressed when the pipes burst, and you have a bigger, smellier problem on your hands.

To use an example from HE, if you have a data breach because of insecure or compromised integrations you could face the cost and hassle of fines, investigations, and repairs.

Getting integration right should be a priority, but is it better to do it in-house or get an outside company like Amos involved to sort it out for you?   

In this post we compare these two approaches.

 

Upfront costs

One of the main differences between doing it in-house and getting someone like Amos on board, is knowing how much you’re going to spend up front.

If you’re using existing employees’ time or even making a couple of new hires, the immediate cost may look smaller. But the overall cost in the long run will be bigger. BAU (Business as usual) cover might be one option to consider. 

After all, experience tells us that projects like this always take longer than planned. Things can go wrong and people on a day rate often have less incentive to get the job done quickly.

We work differently. We know how long it will take for us to do it so we can let you know the full cost upfront. It takes away any uncertainty and allows you to plan your budget around it.

 

Cost of employment

Probably the biggest ongoing and unknown costs for an in-house project is the cost of hiring specialists and/or contractors.

It can get expensive. Although the salary for a local developer may initially appear affordable, it doesn’t factor in the other costs of hiring someone. The true blended salary of a developer is thought to be roughly £400 a day. This includes pension, NI contributions, holidays and more, not to mention the cost of recruitment. And even then, you can’t guarantee how efficient they will be.

Hiring a contractor may take away some of the unknown costs mentioned above, but this will transfer to a higher fee. If you want someone who’s going to do a good job, you’re looking at a day rate of anywhere between £700 for SITS Stu:Talk to £1000 for a MuleSoft specialist. These amount to significant costs in the long run. Without a fixed fee approach this is an open cheque book.

 

Expertise in the market

And that’s assuming you can find the relevant expertise in the first place. In today’s market that’s difficult. Through a combination of factors, many sectors are finding it harder to attract tech talent and are having to pay more to find it. This ‘brain-drain’ is particularly prevalent in the education sector. There just aren’t enough developers to go around.

Amos takes away that headache by providing a complete service informed by years of experience in edtech. We’re much easier to find and because we’re working with several institutions already, we can bring you the best-in-class integrations straight away.

 

Time to value

Another important thing to consider is how quickly you will benefit from these integrations.

There’s no question you will experience a shorter time to value if you use an external specialist that uses pre-built connectors (we know the industry inside and out). Getting it sorted in a fraction of that time means you can use your linked up system straight away.

An in-house team on the other hand will work for months on end, connecting one system or database at a time, ultimately causing a delay in its effectiveness. You and the end users (students and staff) won’t experience the true value of the project until further down the line.

 

When student’s find out

Fully working integrations and connectors contribute to a better experience for students. And what’s more important than that?

Good catering services, bus passes, and fast wi-fi will all be popular with students, but if they’ve turned up to collect their ID card on the first day of lectures and it’s not there because database integrations are broken, it’s going to reflect badly on your institution.

The difference between outsourced and in-house integration, is who finds out first, if things are broken. With an in-house team, often it’s the students themselves, when they discover that something isn’t working as it should.

With our Amos Connect service we get alerted to any issues in real time, and often before something becomes an issue. Not only are we on the lookout for breaks but we can put things right before it becomes an issue for the end user.

 

Should you outsource your integration to a specialist? 

Bringing integration in-house can seem like the obvious choice but many of the apparent benefits are short term.

When it comes to overall costs, you will spend a lot more money on a hardware refresh and contractor hours and it will take time for the return on investment to materialise.  

By bringing in a tried and tested service with an up-front cost and a known turnaround time, you’ll see that ROI much quicker. And you’ve got support and alerts from a dedicated expert team.

 

If you want to know more about going down this route, get in touch using the contact details below. We’d be happy to chat.

Send us an email hello@amos.com

2022 was a successful year for Amos and our customers. I would like to thank our team, partners and most of all our valued customers for their continued support and collaboration.

Taking a look back on 2022 we saw many positive outcomes and also challenges for the IT departments of Education institutions. The need to support a hybrid model of working and delivering education amid concerns about cyber attacks and in some cases having to deal with the impact of cyber attacks.

Integration and security is one of the leading concerns for institutions as they are being encouraged to move their enterprise systems to the cloud to keep abreast with the vendors, many of whom are reducing support for the on premise versions of their system. This is particularly the case with the Student record vendors, all of whom are now committed to a cloud first policy.

IT departments have concerns about how systems will integrate when they are on the cloud, as the technical infrastructure and the Student record vendor mandate secure API integration.

Also in order to keep the data safe in the cloud the vendors are placing significant limitations to access the data for both integrations and reporting.

 

Growing our partnerships with top-tier UK education systems, cloud platforms and services

For Amos, 2022 has been all about partnerships, working together with the vendors and cloud infrastructure providers to get our clients ready to move their system to the cloud, fully integrated and ready for reporting across the enterprise. Specifically, we’ve welcomed engagement with the following companies:

Plus we’ve been busy strengthening our relationship and capitalities with Oracle and offering technical services for their database and technology stack.

 

Building and expanding integrations within Amos Connect

Our clients who already have their student systems in the cloud have been availing of our connectors to systems such Moodle, Paxton, TargetConnect, Canvas, Hubspot, Celcat, Ellucian Quercus, Tribal SITS, Tribal EBS and MS Dynamics. This approach has enabled these institutions to get up and running quickly with integration and to benefit from our extremely experienced team to get them through the integration hurdles.

As there are so many unknowns when a system that has been in use for decades in an institution is moved to the cloud, we have adopted a ‘proof of value approach’. This is where we have worked with AWS and the client to do a test migration of the entire Student records system, so the end users can get actual experience of the system in the cloud and to unearth all the facts to inform a full cloud migration programme.

Our Oracle and Quercus technical team has had an extremely busy year in 2022 assisting our clients to upgrade their systems and to derive value from the new functionality to support core applications such as the new HESA Data Futures requirement in the UK. Many of our Quercus clients are now benefiting from our service level agreements (SLA), which give them access to system monitoring and top class support to ensure high availability and support for custom components of their systems.

 

Delivering value for Amos 3D customers through enhanced reporting and analytics

The Amos 3D reporting team has also had a very successful year. Projects in 2022 have ranged from migrating from old technology to new reporting technologies in line with vendor policies, to developing extensive enterprise dashboards taking data from multiple sources and presenting to the users based on their role in the organisations. A particularly exciting project delivered a ‘Talent evaluation dashboard’ where the organisation can see their talent skills and competencies, and easily identify gaps or overlaps.

 

Expanding and partnering with leading UK Institutions

Core to our values at Amos is our customer care, we believe in what we do and are passionate about ensuring our customers success. This year we are absolutely delighted to welcome the University for the Creative ArtsNortheastern University London, Institute of Contemporary Music Performance and the University of South Wales to our expanding list of clients in the UK and Ireland.

We’re pleased to announce that this year we went live with Amos connect at both ICMP (The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance) and Northeastern University.

For the former we delivered real time integrations between Quercus and Canvas. We explored this completed project in a recent case study.

Here’s a taster of what COO Harri ap Rees had to say about our work:

‘Having Amos Connect at ICMP has really taken the burden of point-to-point integration from our staff team. As an institution we can re-focus our resources and allow the technology to do its job, safe in the knowledge that student data is secure, and their important course and module information is where it’s supposed to be.’

For Northeastern University London we delivered our Amos Connect platform for systems such as Paxton, TargetConnect, Canvas, Hubspot and Celcat. We’ll be delivering even more connectors for NU in 2023.

 

Growing our team and capabilities

With our customer growth came the need to expand our internal teams to be able to continue to augment our clients projects with skilled and experienced Amos team members.  We were delighted to attract new and experienced talent to our team in 2022 which included ex Hull University Higher Ed Dev Specialist Simon Crosby to the team as a Product Owner in an advisory/consultant capacity. The development team expanded with 4 new developers. We are still expanding our team and we are hiring! 

Interested in joining our team? Send us an email hello@amos.com

 

Looking forward to 2023

For institutions who are preparing for moving to the cloud we would like to share our experiences which we hope will be useful to inform your programmes.  We are planning to run a webinar in collaboration with our clients and our partners in the vendor communities to share useful stories about how to approach the move to the cloud. Stories are also shared in our case studies –  recent case study.

We are looking forward to more face to face activities and are planning to attend a range of events where we will share our experiences and learn more about what the sector needs from an integration partner.  In 2022 we found our Technology Partner conferences a great opportunity to interact and listen to the needs and challenges of our clients.

Our Amos Connect Product team will be taking the output from our projects and productising more connectors to add to our portfolio, these will include Syllabus Plus, Cas Shield, Agresso, Blackboard and StarRez amongst others.

The Amos 3D reporting team will continue to assist clients to migrate to new technologies and are starting work with an exciting new client delivering our Project Accounting platform.

2023 will be a year of upgrades for the Oracle and Quercus technical teams, and we will support the move to cloud infrastructure ensuring safe and reliable systems.

We will continue to collaborate with the technology providers in the marketplace to build even stronger alliances to help us all provide a better service to our current and future customers. 

From all the team here at Amos, thanks for joining us on this journey and we hope you have an excellent 2023.

Thank you, 

Adrienne Daly

If your organisation is using a variety of applications, systems, and databases in the cloud or locally, you’ve probably come across IPaaS (Integrated Platform as a Service).

You may even have a licence through a popular vendor.

But even if you use it there’s a chance it’s not giving you or your students the best possible experience. 

Higher Education has undergone major changes in recent years and trends suggest that many IT departments are seeing reduced budgets, resulting in a possible ‘brain drain’ of talent in the coming years. Understaffed or overwhelmed IT departments aren’t necessarily getting the best out of their tech.

Despite that, the need for digital transformation can’t be ignored. 

A recent report from KPMG said that institutions investing in technological capabilities like seamless user experiences, secure and intelligent architecture and data driven strategies are “2.1 times as likely to deliver customer experiences that exceed expectations.”

Amos Connect provides an alternative solution to IPaaS. There’s no official terminology for it but we quite like Integration as a Service (or IaaS).

In this article we’ll be looking at the differences between IPaaS and IaaS.

An intro to IPaaS

Here’s a little refresher on IPaaS to get us started.

Your institution runs various databases, programs, and services that are used by both students and staff. An Integrated Platform as a Service links them all together so that information can be shared across different applications and data can be updated across your network. Much like with SaaS, IaaS and PaaS, this is all run in the cloud, meaning the infrastructure, servers and maintenance are taken care of remotely. 

There are several big players in the IPaaS market including Dell Boomi, MuleSoft, Oracle SOA and the AIS Message Bus Platform. These are all capable of setting up student information systems with compliant integrations. Popular cloud apps like Zapier, Microsoft Power Apps, Automate and more, also provide ways of setting up these integrations yourself.

The main downside with these solutions is that they leave the process of integrating specific apps, programs, and databases in the hands of the user. It also assumes your department has the technical capability to make this work.

In other words, you’ve got the tools and the parts, but you need to build it.

 

What does Amos Connect do differently?

This is where IaaS comes in. To explain the differences, we’ll use a car as an analogy.  

Like with SaaS, IPaaS vendors deliver their product ‘as a service’ with a monthly fee. So, it’s a bit like leasing a car.

But rather than delivering a fully working car to your front door, fitted out to your very specific requirements, pink leather seats and all, you’ve just got a chassis, an engine, and a garage full of parts.

It’s up to you to put it all together. Sure, you can hire a mechanic to come and sort it out but that will cost a lot and, in the meantime, you’re paying for a car you can’t drive.

This is where a lot of institutions are with their IPaaS system. You’ve got plenty of technical capability but it’s not fully integrated, not ready to go and presents an unknown cost of ownership, given that you’ll need to bring someone on to make it work.

Like IPaaS, ours is a cloud-based service. It’s all run remotely, using secure web based infrastructure. On premise systems are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as the benefits of using the cloud become unavoidable. But there are some significant differences.

Here’s five things that Amos Connect does differently:

Pre-built Integrations

IaaS takes the apps, databases, and programs that you need and does the integration for you. What you’re handed at the end of the process is a fully integrated system that works straight away.

Data that needs to exist in multiple locations does so, room booking tools work seamlessly with your class scheduling system and virtual learning environments interact with your student databases.

You’re not relying on your internal team to piece everything together and hope that it works. Instead, you can enlist the help of an experienced external team to do it for you.

 

End to End Integration Support

Sometimes, technology breaks. There’s not much we can do about that unfortunately.

In sizable organisations like a university, it can be one small change that causes a network wide issue. Maybe an IP address has changed, or a software bug is found that needs updating.

If it’s not diagnosed and dealt with you can get real problems. Huge spills of data or missing information. Of course, your in-house team may be able to identify, diagnose and deal with the issue quickly, but this often isn’t the case. 

With Managed Integration as a Service, you don’t need to worry about it. We’ve got it covered (hence the name). 

If something goes wrong, we’ll know about it, let you know and if we can, sort out the problem, before any long lasting issues are caused.

 

Connectivity Monitoring

This is particularly important when it concerns the real time connectivity of your integrations.

How your integrations connect can vary. With an IaaS system we offer a hybrid suite of integration methods. One of these is using API’s – in built code that allows that app or software to interact with another. Alternatively, it might involve on-premise connections that enable direct database or flat file integrations. 

This connectivity monitoring is almost like a heartbeat monitor. In theory API connections should never change. But on rare occasions they are tweaked or something happens that causes that ‘heartbeat’ to fluctuate. This can also happen with on-premise connections. 

An IaaS solution can monitor this, check APIs are alive and proactively alert you to any changes that may have taken place, ensuring connectivity is always maintained.

 

Known Fixed Cost

This is a big one. Another huge difference between IPaaS and what Amos delivers is that we provide fixed price integrations. Prior to starting a project, once we have the brief, we’ll provide a quote for the whole project. It will never be more than that. 

Once it’s done, it’s done (changes can still be made later of course) and beyond that the only charge is an ongoing support fee. There are no unexpected additional costs because we’ve suddenly discovered we need more time, or something didn’t work the first time. We aim to get it done right under the quote we agreed at the beginning. 

There are other pricing models available from popular vendors. Azure AIS for example charges per message sent. We don’t think they offer as attractive a proposition because the overall costs are much harder to determine and don’t offer much long term security. 

We know this model is attractive to educational institutions. It’s a known cost of ownership for your integrated system, putting decision makers at ease and helping you plan ahead. Any capital that goes into putting this together will soon produce a return on investment. After all, you’re automating manual workflow, saving staff time and minimising errors, as well as delivering an industry leading digital service to your primary users.

 

Bonus: We’re Higher Education Specific

Ok, so this one is particularly unique to our product Amos Connect.

We work solely with Higher Education institutions and have tried and tested sector specific integrations ready to go, out of the box. Sector specific apps and connectors are part of the product we offer.

Our team has decades of combined experience and expertise within the sector, so we’re confident in what we’re building. We’re also sensitive to the academic calendar and plan projects and launches around this. 

We know what the situation is on the ground and believe our offering hits all the common pain points.

This is the difference between what we offer and an off the shelf IPaaS solution that may end up costing you way more time and money.

 

Are you interested in learning more about Amos | Connect? Get in touch with our reporting project specialists today to get started.

Well, it’s coming up to month 9 for me at Amos and I’m finally starting to lose that feeling of “imposter syndrome”! If I’m honest, it has been difficult to shrug off that feeling. I’ve always been technically minded but I would never call myself a developer in the true sense, and certainly not an “architect”. 

I was no stranger to integration, thanks to my past experiences with Tribal and Ellucian student information systems. I’d heard of “middleware” and “enterprise service bus”. I’d seen the emergence of APIs and the rise of open architecture. All very interesting stuff.

When I was first approached by Amos, the idea of “integration as a service (IaaS)” was intriguing to me. I’d seen first hand how the simple mention of integration would leave many institutions and vendors alike feeling concerned. 

I quickly learned that an IaaS platform took on the responsibility of ensuring data moved from A to B successfully. And if it was not successful after several retries, you proactively get told about it ASAP. You then have a support desk to help you resolve the problem, if needed, regardless of what applications are involved. 

Integration — who exactly owns this wonderful challenge? There lies the first problem. By its very nature, integrating applications spans the domain expertise of different parts of the business and also different software vendors. 

Typically, a CIO or Director of IT does not wake up on a Monday morning and decide to unpick the tangled web of spaghetti that is point-to-point integrations. Without a compelling event, it sits firmly in the “too hard” basket. There are much easier lower hanging fruit to pick. 

So, what would that compelling event look like you may ask? Moving to the cloud. For many good reasons legacy direct database or file transfer integrations are not compatible with cloud technology. Simply put, you need to clear the path first, in terms of modernizing your integrations. And if an application can’t be modernized, it needs to connect into something that will transform and then orchestrate the flow of data onto its designated endpoint.

At the Education Strategy Forum I attended in March this year, Ian Johns (Chief Architect at Kings College London) spoke openly about institutions needing to outsource activities that are keeping the lights on (e.g. integration), and instead, focusing resources on value add activities. 

Whilst at Amos I’ve learned modernizing integrations does not have to cost a fortune, it does not require an expensive team of developers and it should not prevent an institution from achieving their digital transformation goals.

Does Integration Need to Be Challenging?

Yes and no! As Derek (my boss and an Amos founder) and I occasionally joke, “if it was that easy everyone would be doing it”. There are of course many well known integration platforms out there. But none that focus solely on higher education and they are certainly not offering it as a service. 

Higher education software may have an integration problem, but here’s what I’ve noticed. When you have the right partner — one that has decades of education-specific business process experience and integration expertise — you can turn integration into a seamless (and manageable) process that future proofs your organization.

This is what we do every single day at Amos. We help higher education overcome their biggest integration challenges.

What is Amos |  Connect?

Connect is an end-to-end integration as a service solution, built for education, which can handle both legacy and modern integration methods. We can help you unlock the power of your student system integration component whilst taking ownership and responsibility of your data flows across multiple applications.

https://info.amos.ie/meetings/howard-ormerod/howard

Tribal EBS is an incredibly powerful platform for the management of student data, but it is at its most powerful when unshackled by the cloud.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Tribal EBS implementations are still on-premise. And though there are many customers that want to migrate to the cloud, Tribal is a SIS vendor — not an integration specialist.

It’s not that the vendor refuses to help its EBS customers with cloud migration. Quite the contrary, in fact. For clients with the proper foundation in place, it handles the bulk of the work.

The problem lies in establishing that foundation.

It’s a challenge that most educational institutions lack the in-house expertise to overcome.Because in many cases, although SQL databases, flat files, and legacy software are all frequent obstacles to cloud migration, abandoning them is not an option. The connections these systems and apps share with Tribal EBS need to be updated — they need to be made cloud-ready.

That’s where Amos comes in. Through our flagship solution, Amos Connect, we offer educational institutions a simple path forward into the cloud. Designed specifically for educational institutions, our no-code platform enables the configuration and deployment of complex integrations in a matter of seconds.

More importantly, however, that platform is backed by decades of expertise working within both further and higher education administration.

An Integration Expert With a Purpose-Built Solution

Where Tribal EBS is concerned, Amos Connect acts as the hub for all your connections. Rather than having to integrate each individual system with Tribal EBS, everything instead hooks into our platform. From there, Connect handles all the heavy lifting, ensuring the uninterrupted flow of data to and from your ecosystem.

This can be accomplished in one of two ways.

Your first option is to simply integrate the database connection or flat file system directly into Connect. We recognise that your legacy systems are deeply embedded in your institution.That’s why we’ve designed Connect to build upon legacy without requiring it to be completely re-architected.

Your second option is to modernise your legacy connections into usable APIs. Having worked with the education sector for decades, we know precisely what’s required to enable that class of modernisation. Our platform is further capable of seamlessly working with whatever systems you use internally.

Whatever path you choose to take, we provide more than the platform. We offer integration as a service, with a solution designed specifically for the needs of education administration. And unlike many providers, we’re with you for the whole integration journey, from beginning to end.

We know what it takes to get your Tribal EBS system ready for the cloud. Our integration specialists will collaborate with your institution to get you there. And if you happen to run into any trouble along the way, our support desk is available within UK working hours, with additional out of hours support available where required.

Amos Connect’s Integration Process

The first step in getting your institution cloud-ready is to determine the current state of your integrations. What software solutions do you currently use? Which of those are mission-critical, and which can be deprecated or replaced?

From there, it’s simply a matter of charting an integration roadmap, determining the most efficient path towards cloud-readiness. We’ll work closely with you to integrate your ecosystem with Amos Connect, modernising where necessary. As we do so, we’ll also perform regular health checks and user acceptance testing.

Our main goal is to ensure that there are no major workflow interruptions. After all, integration does you little good if you render your systems unusable or your data inaccessible. For Amos,it’s not enough to get you cloud-ready — we need to make sure the process is as painless as possible for you.

Once all your apps are properly integrated and we’ve verified that all data is flowing correctly,there’s just one step remaining. Let Tribal know. They’ll handle the final steps in getting your Tribal EBS deployment into the cloud.

Modernise, Streamline, Integrate, & Scale With Amos Connect for Tribal EBS

Integration can be a nightmare even for organisations with a well-funded IT department. It’s no surprise that it’s a responsibility so few vendors want to take on. Nor is it shocking that so few in the education sector have the necessary expertise to tackle the challenge.

More than anything else, it’s that expertise that Amos brings to the table. We’ll work with you to find the simplest path to getting your institution cloud-ready. That way, your Tribal EBS solution is ready to meet the challenges of modern education.

Because at Amos, integration is in our DNA. It’s what we do — what we’ve always done. We understand your systems, your specific needs, the key processes you rely on, and the ‘why’behind everything.

And with that knowledge, we’ve got you covered, no matter what challenges your organisation may face.

 

Optimisation rests at the heart of Tribal’s Education Business System (EBS) solution. It’s designed to give your administrators a centralised and cohesive view of your entire student administration & population.

However, it can only do so effectively if it’s properly integrated. Which poses a significant challenge for many educational institutions today.

If your organisation is anything like most, you leverage a complex collection of endpoints, systems, and software. Manually integrating anything new into this ecosystem is a difficult and time-consuming task, resulting in both delays and issues with data accuracy. And each new application only further increases your workload and the data orchestration complexity.

Inevitably, you’re left with a patchwork that requires constant rekeying of data, manual data movement, and the constant risk of non-compliance. This is far from ideal. In order to improve not just your Tribal EBS integrations but your integration process as a whole, you need to change your approach.

Here are six steps towards achieving this.

Start With an Integration Solution

You’re likely already partway down the road to digital transformation. After all, most institutions had no choice but to embrace it as a result of COVID-19. And now that your various business units and students have gotten a taste of what digital technology has to offer, they want more.

And you need to provide that — which starts with moving away from manual integration. The best way to achieve this is by leveraging a secure Integration-Platform-as-a-Service offering. This will allow you to simplify the process of integrating systems with your student system.

The right IPaaS solution will also support hybrid integration, allowing you to connect modern systems with legacy and traditional data sources—at scale.

The results? Seamless data connectivity and streamlined data management.

Leverage Duplicate Prevention

Data duplication is not a problem isolated to the education sector. Quite the contrary, as more and more organisations embrace digital transformation and bring disparate systems and departments online, duplicate records become increasingly common. At this precise moment, your administrative staff are probably trying to solve the problem through manual data orchestration. It’s an impossible task, and one which only wastes time better spent elsewhere.

You therefore must leverage automated duplicate detection while also providing staff with the capacity to define how duplicates are managed. Let’s say, for instance, a student’s attendance records are stored in three separate places.

An automated duplicate prevention system would immediately detect this, and could then perform one of the following actions:

Monitor, Validate, Respond

The traditional approach to IT, in which problems are reactively addressed as they surface, is no longer feasible. Instead, you must take a proactive approach to both integration and cybersecurity issues. You must ensure that the health and stability of your ecosystem is under constant watch.

More importantly, you need to ensure you’re made immediately aware once a problem is detected. Validation of both your data and your integrations is therefore a must. Through constant automated connectivity testing and real-time analytics, you can keep your ecosystem functioning seamlessly, and ensure quick recovery from any system outages that might occur.

Of course, to effectively monitor your ecosystem, you must first be able to see said ecosystem.

Promote Better Visibility

Integration and visibility go hand-in-hand. Without a clear map of your ecosystem, you cannot effectively connect the different systems and endpoints within your organisation. And without a clear map of where your data is stored, you cannot effectively orchestrate it to break down data silos.

As such, your task here is twofold:

Partner With an Expert That Owns the Platform

The advice we’ve provided above is all well and good. But there’s still one pressing issue. What if you don’t have the in-house expertise or resources to apply any of it?

The answer is simple: partner with a vendor that does.

Here’s where Amos comes in. We’ve worked in the further and higher education sector for decades, in which time we’ve nurtured a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs facing education administration. From that understanding, we developed Amos Connect.

Designed specifically to help educational institutions simplify their integration process and address their data challenges, Amos Connect features an intuitive interface, no-code deployment, full support for hybrid integrations, and a fixed-price implementation where you only pay for what you use.

In short, it’s exactly the platform you need to make the most out of Tribal EBS — and any of your other software investments, whether legacy or modern.

Learn More about Amos Connect for Tribal EBS

With 2021 officially behind us, the Amos team would like to thank our loyal clients for their continued dedication and support.

It’s safe to say it was an exciting year with many milestones to celebrate! From helping higher education institutions seamlessly navigate complex integration challenges to successfully launching new services, including our new Oracle Technical Services and specialised Amos Connect solutions for both Tribal EBS & Quercus, we remain committed to providing exceptional quality service and education solution expertise to all of our clients.

As we look back on 2021, we’re proud to say we made some valuable additions to our talented team, and we continue to be an important partner for educational institutions throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Read on to learn more about what Amos’ achieved in 2021.

Big Year, Big Changes

The last year has been a successful one for growth. We’re proud to announce that the Amos team grew from 16 members to 24. We also opened a new office in the UK, and are excited to celebrate one of our biggest hires—Howard Ormerod—who joins our team as a Senior Solutions Architect. Howard brings a lot of education-specific expertise to our team as he continues to oversee complex integration projects.

Welcome, Howard! We look forward to seeing you continually work toward creating purpose-built solutions that address our client’s specific needs.

Empowering Clients with Amos | Connect 2.0

In 2021, we released our biggest update yet with Amos | Connect 2.0. Dubbed the “customer empowerment update,” this powerful combination offers a stunning UI/UX, new functionality, point and click discovery, and gives users more control, reliability, and improved security of their integrations.

So, what did Amos | Connect 2.0 offer?

Launch of Several Education-Specific Solutions

Amos | Connect remains an industry-leading integration hub that streamlines the flow of data between essential systems in higher education. We improved the Amos Connect experience to provide higher education institutions with a powerful platform for connecting legacy, cloud, and hybrid systems.

We also launched our new Oracle Technical Services to provide ongoing support, monitoring, management, and solution expertise for higher education institutions using Oracle databases.

With more businesses pushing toward digital work environments, we’ve expanded our services to also include specialised solutions for both Ellucian and Tribal institutions.

Connecting Education

Amos successfully completed 32 integrations with higher education clients, with many projects continuing into later phases. These integrations included a variety of complex systems, both legacy and cloud-based while ensuring data was accessible, processable, and readable using scalable cloud technology.

Modern education continues to explore integration as we performed over 15 student information system upgrades in 2021. This was a powerful opportunity to connect systems and enhance data flow. Our clients experienced enhanced system reliability and now have the foundation required to explore further integration opportunities.

We’re also happy to announce that we assisted in the cyberattack recovery process for two large higher education institutions.

Continued Success for Amos 3D

Amos 3D continued to deliver its advanced reporting service across a range of industries. This solution remains focused on providing clients with the tools businesses need to analyse their data quickly and efficiently while giving them the ability to rapidly respond to opportunities and threats identified by the reporting solution.

Between existing and new clients, we produced countless high value reporting solutions that increased visibility into key business metrics related to operations and finance.

2022 and Beyond

Looking forward, Amos will continue to stay in line with our goals and objectives. We’re excited to continue our growth by helping higher education achieve its outcomes with connecting education, improving the flow of data, and providing continued access to technical services.

We want to give a huge shout-out to our team for all their hard work and dedication, and a tremendous thank you to all our clients for being the amazing people they are.

Have a safe and great year ahead.

Oracle is a major player in the EdTech space, and many institutions are reliant upon the organisation’s database and middleware solutions.

Managing these solutions, however, can be extremely challenging—particularly in the case of legacy systems. From upgrades to ongoing support, finding qualified talent to oversee your Oracle deployments is no easy task.

So, how can you get the most out of your Oracle deployment? When you can’t justify hiring a full-time developer to oversee your deployments—the next best option is to hire an Oracle technical services provider like Amos.

Here are just a few of the major Oracle challenges you can solve by partnering with a company like Amos.

1. System Outages

Unexpected system outages can be incredibly costly, and have a severe impact on users across the board. You need to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, particularly in larger institutions, that’s easier said than done.

It’s also important to work with a partner that understands education-specific timelines. For example, proactive monitoring can minimize disruption and ensure essential systems are operational when it matters most, such as during registration, admissions, and exams.

Amos proactively monitors your systems, predicting potential issues and alerting you to problems before they impact your infrastructure. And should your institution face an unexpected emergency, our disaster recovery and business continuity service helps you stay online and avoid data loss.

2. Migrations & Upgrades

Educational institutions reliant on legacy Oracle systems face a difficult situation. These systems and the applications they support are crucial. Yet outdated architecture often does not provide the necessary functionality for end users, while also becoming increasingly complex and insecure over time.

Amos will do the necessary legwork to ensure a smooth transition, whether you’re migrating or upgrading. We also plan upgrades and migrations around realistic windows that prioritize education’s timelines. This helps to minimize disruption to students, academics, and any stakeholders involved in these processes.

We support on-premises, off-premises, and full cloud deployments, and can seamlessly migrate your infrastructure to any of the three. And we’ll ensure your upgrades go smoothly, without impacting other systems or functionality.

3. System & Lifecycle Management

It’s far too easy to fall behind Oracle’s release schedule, leaving your institution with outdated, unsupported systems. In addition to impacting usability — causing business users to lose out on critical functionality, for instance — versioning challenges represent a security risk. Recall that as many as one in three data breaches are caused by unpatched vulnerabilities, then factor in the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

It can be incredibly challenging to run stuff on Oracle when your systems are not up to date, secure, and have little support. Plus, it may even weaken your compliance, leaving sensitive student data vulnerable to digital threats.

With Amos, you need not worry about falling behind on your release schedule ever again thanks to our Oracle Supports service, which provides ongoing maintenance and patching. We’ll also help you optimise your system, monitor system health, and scan for security vulnerabilities. The end result is an up to date system that’s designed to keep your student’s data safe.

4. Lack of Internal Resources

The reality is education doesn’t always have an Oracle DBA on staff, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need one. And if they do manage to find and hire an Oracle administrator, retaining them is often a challenge since they tend to leave when a more attractive vertical is hiring.

Now that doesn’t mean you won’t have someone on your team capable of managing these systems. It’s common for educational institutions to have some form of internal ownership. However, this creates additional strain on your IT department and can leave you fighting for limited resources. Outsourcing can solve this problem, giving you access to the expertise you need.

Through Amos, your institution gains access to an experienced Oracle team fully capable of filling in your knowledge and skill gaps. You’ll also be provided with a dedicated project manager who will make your needs a priority. Both will work collaboratively with your organisation to find the best route possible towards your business goals.

Amos also automates many routine maintenance tasks, including optimisation, housekeeping, and security scans, while our Oracle Apex Development service sets you up with a database tailored exclusively to your institution.

5. Non-Education Technology Partners

While Oracle does provide support for its self-hosted systems—finding a technology partner that understands the unique needs of education is a significant challenge.

Additionally, most third-party software vendors are both inexperienced with Oracle and lack knowledge of educational systems and processes.

Amos offers a better way, with decades of experience in the education sector and EdTech specifically. We are a trusted, reliable project management organisation that understands both your needs and how best to meet them. We also provide full out-of-hours support, so you never have to deal with an outage alone.

Turnkey Services. Expert Support. When and Where You Need It.

Getting the support your Oracle systems need to provide a best-in-class student and staff experience isn’t easy. Plus, migrating to an entirely new system isn’t always an option.

If you’re looking to modernise and drive more value out of your existing Oracle infrastructure, Amos can help. Get in touch with our team of Oracle specialists to see how we’ve helped other educational institutions better manage their Oracle infrastructure.

Click here to learn more about Amos’s Oracle Technical Services.

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