Tag Archives: Microsoft

Logic Apps and BizTalk Integration

Bryony Lloyd
Information Services Developer
University of Lincoln

Integrate 2018

I was lucky to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend Integrate 2018 in London, without which I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go. Integrate is the conference to attend for anyone working in Microsoft Integration and is a two day event.
I turned up early to register, collect my name badge and to talk to other attendees from other organisations. They also had an amazing pre-conference breakfast available! Being able to talk to other people outside of your own experiences with integration and BizTalk, was useful in order to be able to gain different perspectives on integration, practices, and design used within the industry. Lunch times again were another opportunity to be able to talk to the experts of the different companies that were exhibiting. This included talking to current suppliers and getting clarification on configuring and using their product in our environment.

Pre-conference preparation

It is always helpful to establish a few things before going to the conference:
  • Check out the conference website for the agenda
  • Do some research on the speakers attending, look at their work and blogs, this will give you some preparation on their listed talk. Plus, if there is any speaker you are unsure about e.g. who they are, you will not be going in completely unprepared.
  • Make sure you have the hotel and the conference addresses as well as any travel information so you know where you are going
  • If possible, go down the day before and visit the venue so you know where you are going
  • Lastly, be prepared by taking a notebook and pen.

Logic Apps and BizTalk integration

After the welcome talk we went straight into the conference about integration using Microsoft Azure,  Logic Apps and BizTalk.
The sessions were led by integration experts, and experts within their own fields, and from different companies who are using Biztalk and Logic Apps within their environments.  They also covered how Azure is helping companies achieve strategic goals. Within these sessions there were also announcements about new features within Azure and BizTalk 2016. It was really good to be able to hear about these, and have the opportunity to talk to experts on how these can be utilised effectively. Having this information, also means I am able to bring back and relay that information to the integration team at the University of Lincoln.  This will help increase the understanding, effective implementation and upgrade to these new features.
It was interesting and helpful, to hear about the real world solutions, and the pros and cons that have been encountered from the experts who have implemented these, as well as the lessons learnt in the process. We also heard about the pros of having a serverless environment achieved through Azure, and of improved costs, and easier and quicker development. Although we will always learn our own lessons in any development process, being able gain knowledge on throttling and access rights was very helpful.  However, I think the biggest lessons learnt from the conference were always use the best tools for the job and don’t try to fit the tools with the solution!

New technologies and practices (to us)

There were a few technologies and tools which we don’t currently use. Getting a basic understanding, and being able to talk to the experts about these technologies and tools, is useful for future development and deployment within our environment. This was helped by seeing these technologies in use first-hand by other businesses and developers in the conference sessions. Development tools I saw included, API Management, and monitoring tools for the environment such as ServiceBus360.  I also learnt about the integration possibilities with an upgraded environment and best practices from industry experts.
Recaps of both days can be found here: Day One and Day Two. This conference was hugely beneficial for me, mainly to be able to find information on other practices, environments, and experiences outside of the university integration team. Going forward this information will benefit the way we carry out integration as a team.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme. 

Developing ideas in pedagogical transparency for staff and students

Brandon Davies
Junior Audio-Visual Technician
City, University of London

Spotlight on Digital Capabilities, June 2018

When I applied for the UCISA bursary scheme, I immediately identified “Spotlight on Digital Capabilities”, as an ideal conference for what I feel is a most urgent and interesting point of contention within the higher education system today. The potential and ambition within the realm of future teaching-enhancing techniques is intense, and the conference further embodied this.
In my blog, I’m going to focus on two talks from the conference, with which I most connected. I will then expand that consolidation of information into my own thoughts on digital pedagogical applications.

Certification for IT training: options and approaches – Gareth Johns

The talk by Gareth Johns on options and approaches for IT training was eye opening.  The options presented brought together a vital mix of ingredients essential to constructing a sustainable system for engagement, efficiency and certification validity.
The MOS Course (Microsoft Office Specialist) is an official course run and certified by Microsoft themselves.  Using this as a benchmark for digital capabilities is a fantastic way to give staff and students a goal that is not just useful for working within the university, but an incredibly useful skill as a whole. Having a highly recognized qualification as the goal, helps add to staff and students’ employability skills for their career, as well as increasing the efficiency with which digital technology is used, and furthers the transition into modern teaching spaces.

Employability as a result of proficiency

As an Audio-Visual technician myself, the vastly increasing use of digital technology within teaching spaces, can be bewildering for staff and students.  However, these spaces have the potential to provide an increasingly communicative, inclusive and engaging form of teaching. Simply setting the MOS course as a goal is not enough.  At Cardiff Metropolitan University, Gareth has implemented interactive pages on Moodle, in which a more bespoke and broken down version of the course lessons can be taught. This, as well as regular seminars, creates a far more friendly environment and approach for learning the necessary skills required for passing MOS. Using real spreadsheets that staff and students interact with, helps bring home how useful these skills can be in day to day life. This contextualisation, as well as additional practice software such as G-Metrix, creates the infrastructure necessary for an intuitive and accessible course.

Developing a holistic institutional approach to digital capabilities development – Karen Barton

Karen’s talk opened my mind to a totally different approach to digital capabilities development, an holistic approach. Rather conveniently from my alma mater (University of Hertfordshire), Karen immediately separated herself from other approaches by viewing the situation from a larger perspective.
This picture from her slide perfectly demonstrates the side effects of a non-centralised approach to providing answers. With too many parties providing their own solutions, the result can be an overcrowded and inefficient environment.

 

 

Having a specific investigative objective from senior management, as one would expect, seems to have gone a long way in progressing Karen’s work. The use of a pilot programme as a result of the extensive resources allocated, is a great way to slowly refine the scheme before being finalised.
Five other universities have signed up to Hertfordshire’s pilot, a collaboration benefiting everybody. At Hertfordshire, the total redesign of the VLE has given the team there an opportunity to apply different pedagogical practices into the most commonly used software around the university. This has provided an exceptional opportunity to increase the accessibility and efficiency of the scheme. Such long-term integration of digital capability approaches, enables an accretion of infrastructure to the point where the very fabric of being a part of the university exposes you to the certification course and its requirements. Many different speakers from a variety of universities pointed out the use of Lynda.com and Karen was no exception. I’d recommended my university (City, University of London) consider the use of Lynda. I’ve used Lynda for personal development in the past and can speak only highly of it.
Here are a few ideas I have for increasing the success rate and enthusiasm for an IT certification scheme.

Don’t Fall Behind in the Digital Age

Marketing Ideas:
  • Giving a focus on the employability aspect of the course is vital; certification within digital capabilities is hugely beneficial in the modern job market. Indicate the need to stay ahead in the digital age and not fall behind, reinforce the accreditation from Microsoft. The opportunities for lecturers to save on valuable teaching time by becoming increasingly proficient with digital technology within the classroom, is an additional marketing focus.

Increase your chances of a higher salary!

  • Holding a prize within the course for exceptional students and staff could also be hugely beneficial to providing additional incentives.

Conclusions

Homogenising the wide variety of ideas and approaches from the conference is not an easy task.  However, what I’ve mentioned goes a long way to solidifying my own approach to a task requiring a great deal of re-wiring across higher education as a whole, which has no easy solution.
I’d like to thank all the speakers from the conference and UCISA for giving me the opportunity through the bursary scheme to attend. I hope to share my findings with staff at City, University of London, and encourage conversation on an incredibly interesting and complex subject.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.