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Educational Institutions Are Rapidly Adopting DreamFactory

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Educational institutions are adopting the DreamFactory REST API platform for a variety of innovative purposes. This white paper outlines how DreamFactory is being used in an educational setting and provides some recent customer examples. Hopefully this paper will help other colleges and universities get some new ideas on how to take advantage of the platform.

Why Do Educational Institutions Need REST APIs?

Like any other complex enterprise, educational institutions also need to modernize IT infrastructure, make services and data more transparent, provide self-service options for students, and develop mobile applications. In some cases, educational institutions are developing API services for internal use. This can help with administration, infrastructure, enrollment, scheduling, tuition, scholarships, and many other needs. In other cases, API services are being provided for students that want to write mobile applications. This can enable new capabilities like student directories and event calendars. Educational institutions need a low cost and flexible way to provide these vital services.

But building REST APIs by hand is expensive and time consuming. There is no guarantee that the results will be reliable, scalable, or secure. Schools providing an API for student use maybe unsure what format the REST API should take. Educational institutions may be on a tight budget, especially in the public sector. For all of these reasons, the DreamFactory REST API platform is an excellent choice. DreamFactory makes it very easy to safely expose a database or services as a REST API for student use, internal databases or mobile development. The platform is highly scalable, extremely reliable, and the security has been tested by hundreds of thousands of developers. And open source software is a natural fit for educational institutions that require transparent solutions that minimize vendor lock-in.

Online Career School

A nationally accredited online career school located in the Northeast United States decided to move all of their information infrastructure from on-premises hosting to the cloud. As part of this process, they needed to migrate quite a few legacy IBM DB2 databases and other hosted services to Amazon EC2 servers. In addition, they wanted to modernize their infrastructure, and purchased DreamFactory Silver to expose their database and other administrative services with a comprehensive REST API. DreamFactory is being used as the gateway for all database access in the cloud.

One challenge was that the school has thousands and thousands of students enrolled, and they needed their REST API to support over 100,000 simultaneous transactions at any given time. Our use of JSON Web Tokens allows the DreamFactory platform to run as a stateless image, and so multiple instances of DreamFactory running behind a load balancer can be used to support use cases like this with a very large number of simultaneous transactions.

The initial implementation will use LDAP to provide authentication for the IT staff and administrators. This will provide role-based access control for anyone needing to read or write data. The next step is to open up some data to the students enrolled at the school. This will let them develop innovative applications that can safely and securely access student information in the cloud.

Australian University

A large public research university based in Australia also decided to open up some of their internal information systems to students for application building and other purposes. In this case they needed to combine information from quite a few internal systems into a single API platform. Most of the data was in an Oracle database, and they also had some other SOAP services that they wanted to expose.

They decided to run DreamFactory Gold on premises in order to provide a single comprehensive REST API for all of these different backend services. Administrators and students gain access to the API services through their existing AD/LDAP system. User management with role based access controls are used for security. Some sample mobile applications are provided to show students how to get started. There will be lots of innovation on this platform when students start building their own mobile applications.

In Conclusion

This white paper provides examples of how educational institutions are using the DreamFactory platform. In some cases massive scalability is important, and in other cases the ability to provide an easy to use service platform for students is what matters. Other educational institutions are using DreamFactory strictly for internal administration. If you work for an institution of higher learning please try out the DreamFactory REST API platform and contact our support department or make a comment on the forum if there are any problems.




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