Written by: Adam Travis, Senior Consultant
As a follow-up to SIG’s recent webinar on “Demystifying Ethos,” we received quite a few questions. To help our clients and institutions better understand how this aspect of Banner works, we have listed a Q and A to help your success.
Q: When setting values as part of the configuration, how should you address the “update_me” items when it is a configuration and not a mapping field?
A: Each area of configuration may have separate documentation, so consult that for specific setting guidance. Settings relate to the EMS or EMA will be required for any Publish/Subscribe messaging integration. However, not all settings need to be configured, so if the field in questions is not going to be used by your institution you can leave it as “update_me”. Check the integration pattern to see if it is listed for the product you wish to implement. You can also set values to “NOT_IN_USE” to indicate it has been configured, but not to a real value.
Q: Can Ethos be used to mass load data into Banner from a CSV file?
A: At one time I think Ellucian did say they were developing a CSV or text file integration with Ethos. I do not remember if I heard that at eLive 2019 or on a webinar, and I can’t find a specific reference to it on the roadmap right now. But the roadmap is very high level and does not always include those types of details. You may wish to check with the Ellucian product owners to ask if this is still planned.
Q: How would you suggest testing your integration setup?
A: We recommend using Postman for testing. I find the browser plugins for REST API testing are harder to use than the Postman application. Ellucian has some examples you can download and import into Postman which are a good way to get started with integration testing. For thorough testing, you may need to load data into the application you are integrating with to fully assess your data.
Q: Is Postman free?
A: There is a free version of Postman which is excellent and should meet your needs for testing Ethos Integration. There are also paid versions which offer more features and collaboration tools. I have only used the free version at this point.
Q: Can you show us how to invoke an API (like Person) using postman?
A: I am planning some conference presentations and/or webinars for the fall that will demonstrate how to use Postman for testing Ethos Integration.
Q: If we are mostly on-premise but have private cloud available for some servers, could we install the Ethos elements like API Management Center, and messaging components into a private cloud location or do they need to be on application servers alongside the rest of our Banner servers?
A: There is no technical limitation that would require you to install the Ethos API Management Center or messaging components in the same data center or on the same network as your Banner database server. For performance reasons, you may wish to have the Banner Ethos APIs along with the messaging components on a high bandwidth connection to the database server. The performance will depend significantly on the quantity of data you plan to pass through Ethos, which depends on the number of Events enabled, the specific integrations, and the amount of activity in Banner and the Ethos connected systems.
Q: What is your recommendation for how to get started with Ethos?
A: Pick a project to start. There are a lot of decisions to make which can be impacted by the specifics of the integration. Additionally, there isn’t much to see or do with Ethos unless you have an integration to implement. But, if you really want to get Ethos Integration up and running before you have a project, start by going through the steps in the Connected Banner to Ethos checklist.
Q: With Ethos installed and in production, we found that Ethos has limited data that we can interact with. What suggestions can you offer to expand the pool of data available to Ethos, if there is a way to do that?
A: This will depend on the specific data needs you have for your projects. Ellucian is continuing to develop the Banner Ethos APIs and each release includes additional resources. Ethos Extend is available to expand the data model and the APIs that populate a data model. The details of how to utilize this may depend on whether the data model exists, but not the Banner APIs, or the data has not yet been modeled in Ethos, or the data is custom to your institution. We do recognize that you may not wish to invest time in developing your own APIs or extending Ethos for baseline data that you anticipate Ellucian will support in the future.
Q: What are the Ethos Integration components we need to take update following a Banner database clone from Production to Test?
A: There are several instance specific settings that are stored in the database, in the GORICCR table, that will be cloned during a database clone and should be updated. These settings primarily relate to the EMS or EMA. There may also be some BEP settings that differ between Test and Production. Additionally, service account credentials used by Ethos to access the Banner Ethos APIs would typically have different passwords. There may be other settings that would differ based on your specific circumstance, but those may or may not have as much of an impact. There is currently a Change Request for formal documentation from Ellucian to address this question, and you can follow CR-000169197 for more details.
Q: Which messaging components can be installed in a highly available, clustered or load-balanced environment?
A: I believe that RabbitMQ (EMS) supports clustering and I think that new version of BEP support clustering, but I don’t know about the Ellucian Message Adapter. I will try to investigate further and post an update.
Q: The talks about Ethos have been around for a while now. It looks like very few schools are using it. What’s the challenge?
A: There are more and more clients using Ethos Integration each month. There were limited partner products with integrations initially, but that has been changing quickly. Additionally, the APIs were limited initially, but have been growing over time. Your specific partner product or integration need will impact whether Ethos Integration will meet your requirements.
Q: Some of our entities in CRM do not have integration IDs, and GUID Generation status is “Unhealthy”; can this be resolved within Ethos Integration/API Management Center?
A: At this time, GUID generation cannot be executed from within the API Management Center and must be run from the application using the procedures provided.
If you’d like to know more about how your school can implement ethos integration into your Banner instance, please contact us to discuss.