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Posted: 9/24/2012
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Computer Technology Institute & Press “Diophantus” Data Warehouse Provides Business Intelligence and Data Drilling Capabilities

Officials of the Greek Ministry of Education felt they were not getting the big picture on the Greek educational system due to poor IT interoperability. Information was fragmented in various IT systems, and difficult to access and use. A centralized data warehouse, using Microsoft technologies, was developed. As a result, Greek education officials gained strong business intelligence tools, speedy access to information, integrated data and enhanced decision-making capabilities.


Business Needs

Officials of the Greek Ministry of Education felt they were not getting the big picture on the Greek education system. Information on 1.3 million students and 170,000 teachers in 15,000 schools was dispersed in various data systems that used different technologies and lacked interoperability. Answers to questions, for instance, on the number of students per school and their academic performance, teacher allocation and their specializations, student-teacher ratios, teaching vacancies, foreign students and their language competencies were difficult to get. As well, IT support was needed to dig into data and generate reports; ministry officials and school administrators who lacked IT technical skills could not undertake these tasks themselves. Consequently, it was not unusual to get answers a few days or even a week later. Quick access to information was not feasible.

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* When informed decisions have to be made, decision-makers can now generate information themselves in seconds. Before, it would take at least a day.” *

Vasilis Delis
Project Manager and Deputy Chair
Educational Technology Sector, Computer Technology Institute & Press “Diophantus

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The need to reform the Greek Ministry of Education’s information infrastructure was becoming apparent to ministry officials and school administrators. They wanted accurate and up-to-date information on the Greek education system that they could easily access and analyze themselves with no IT technical support. The information already available in various data systems, if properly tapped, could be a source of business intelligence and lead to better decision-making and policy-designs, cost-savings and efficient use of resources.

It fell on the Computer Technology Institute & Press “DIOPHANTUS” (CTI) to plan and implement the needed changes, under the personal interest and guidance of Prof. Paul Spirakis, CTI’s president. CTI is a technology and research organization that supports technological innovation and ICT research in Greece and serves as the official technology consultant of the Greek Ministry of Education.

Solution

To address the needs of the Greek Ministry of Education, CTI felt that the ministry’s various systems had to be unified and integrated into one system. Said Vasilis Delis, CTI project manager and deputy chair of Educational Technology Sector, “We felt that the various systems in the educational community had to be merged in a single, central data warehouse that collected data from different sources and provided business intelligence functions. Data in the warehouse also had to be easily accessible on a single, user-friendly web interface.”

CTI decided to use Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 for the project after considering various solutions. Said Vasilis, “We experimented for a few months with some open source solutions, but the functionalities, business intelligence capabilities, interfacing and visualization that Microsoft solutions offered were the best we could find. Our experience with Microsoft solutions, particularly Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, which was already used in some of the ministry’s systems, gave us confidence in using Microsoft technologies for the data warehouse project.”

With technical support from Microsoft Hellas (Greece), CTI engineers designed and developed the data warehouse architecture using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 as back-end system. CTI put a premium on the analysis and integration services suites of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 to deliver online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining functionality, as well as business intelligence functionalities. “Drilling through data dimensions and decomposing information have now been enabled significantly,” said Giannis Papaioannou, CTI senior developer. For its front-end system, CTI deployed Microsoft SharePoint 2010 with its familiar Microsoft Office interface, to allow users to access business information quickly and share it with other users.

In June, officials of the Greek Ministry of Education began using the data warehouse, as part of the first phase of the data warehouse project implementation.

Benefits

The development of a centralized data warehouse has provided Greek education officials with strong business intelligence tools, speedy access to information, seamless and integrated data and enhanced decision-making capabilities.

Strong business intelligence capabilities

Having a centralized data warehouse with advanced business intelligence tools and dynamic data snapshot functionalities, allows officials of the Greek Ministry of Education to drill deep into data and generate detailed, analytical reports with a few clicks. “For instance, users can now drill deep into usage of teaching hours and activities, examine teacher specializations and performance, and make comparisons,” said Eftychios Valeontis, CTI chief developer and data warehouse designer. “The technologies are very impressive and work like magic,” he said.

Speedy access to information

The data warehouse allows data analysis and generation of reports to be done with a few clicks and without the need for special technical skills. Self-service capabilities are a key feature of the new system and free users of the need to enlist IT personnel to drill deep into data and generate complex reports. The ease with which users can access information also means that they can get answers to questions in minutes instead of days. Said Vasilis, “When informed decisions have to be made decision-makers can now generate information themselves in seconds. Before, it would take at least a day. Moreover, data patterns and system behavior not previously known are now easily revealed.”

Seamless and integrated data

Data from various sources are asynchronously and seamlessly updated daily in the data warehouse, ensuring that users and decision-makers get complete and up-to-date information all the time. The danger that education officials may be missing the big picture, or critical pieces of information, is avoided.

Enhanced decision-making capabilities

With ease of access to complete information and analytical reports, education officials are better positioned to make decisions and design policies, especially relating to efficient use of education ministry resources. Education officials can confidently make decisions, knowing that they have the necessary information and the big picture on the Greek educational system.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 250 employees

Organization Profile

Computer Technology Institute & Press “DIOPHANTUS” (CTI) is a technology and research organization and official state consultant of the Greek Ministry of Education on information technology.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Vertical Industries
  • Public Sector
  • Nonprofit
  • Education

Country/Region
Greece

Languages
English

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