System News
Virtual Education Space (VES)
Building a Shared Services Infrastructure with Sun Open Net Environment
February 25, 2002,
Volume 48, Issue 4

Massachusetts is using the Virtual Education Space (VES) initiative to help its 357 school districts share administrative tools, help teachers share ideas and provide an online desktop for students to do their work anywhere, anytime. VES is a PreK-12 platform initiative that aims to give teachers, students and parents online access to educational resources.

VES is part of a larger trend in education that makes communication and collaboration around curriculum, administration and student learning essential. A key driver of the VES initiative is the need to manage the rising costs of PreK-12 infrastructure. VES is focused on building a shared infrastructure that has a low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in terms of administrative and staff resources, allowing more money to be spent in the classroom.

The case study illustrates the core business reasons and benefits for choosing SunTM Open Net Environment (Sun ONE). The case study also shows the architecture objective of VES and the central role Sun ONE is playing in translating the VES vision into reality.

For VES aims to create a set of collaborative tools designed to:

  • Raise student achievement
  • Transform teaching and learning one classroom at a time
  • Share educational services, curriculum, assessment and instructional content
  • Enable accountability--responsibility and liability--through the system

Accomplishing these goals requires a set of online portals designed to support a personalized and secure learning environment. At the same time, the online environment must allow districts to integrate their own tools and applications, promoting interoperability and providing value to school.

VES Design and Architecture

The VES application is designed as a set of modules. The modules have been identified in the VES design phase, where groups of similar data and functionality were grouped together in multiple scenarios: curriculum management, instructional design, instructional management, messaging, collaboration and student work. The VES application design is divided into multiple tiers:

  • The Client tier: Responsible for presenting data to the user in a heterogeneous desktop environment, interacting with the user and communicating with the other tiers of the application.

  • The Web tier: Responsible for performing all Web-related processing and managed by a centralized portal serving HTML pages, integrating multiple Web pages, transforming XML and formatting device independent JavaServer PagesTM (JSPTM) pages for display by browsers.

  • The Enterprise JavaBeansTM tier: Responsible for the application modules such as curriculum management and the core infrastructure elements like security, directory services and other shared services.

  • The Enterprise Information System (EIS) tier: Responsible for linking to enterprise information (data) infrastructure.

Sun ONE--Enabling a Robust VES Infrastructure

The issues of scalability, availability, extendibility and application integration that VES deems as core requirements are the tenets around which the entire Sun ONE architecture is built. These are also some of the issues that enterprises deploying large-scale, mission-critical applications care passionately about.

The scalability, manageability and all the other abilities of the Sun ONE family paid off. With a small staff, VES is now able to host and manage a very large server environment.

For more details on the case study:

http://www.sun.com/products-n-solutions/edu/success/SunONE_VES.pdf "

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Other articles in the Education and Research section of Volume 48, Issue 4:

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