Education and Skills Funding Agency

Data Sharing Service
Education and Skills Funding Agency

ESFA Data Sharing Service

Client Background

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is an executive agency of the UK’s Department for Education (DfE), formed in 2017 by merging the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). Its main role is to oversee funding and delivery of education and skills training for learners of all ages. The ESFA allocates government funding to educational institutions, ensuring effective and efficient use of public funds. It collaborates with schools, colleges, training providers, and employers to shape policies, promote high-quality education, and support the development of a skilled workforce. The agency plays a vital role in fostering a world-class education system and driving economic growth through improved standards and educational opportunities across the UK.

The Opportunity

KSB Technologies was appointed to lead a team of 8 talented professionals on a greenfield project for the government. Our mission was to successfully deliver a Serverless (PaaS) RESTful Web API using an array of advanced technologies and architectural approaches.

The backbone of this project was built with C# and .Net Core, utilizing a Microservices architecture that ensured scalability and flexibility. We chose Azure Functions for its serverless execution model and Azure Cosmos DB for its globally distributed, multi-model database service, which offered robustness and adaptability to our application.

To cater to complex search requirements, we developed Azure Search programmatically and exposed it through Azure API Management (APIM). This functionality allows clients to efficiently search multiple collections, facilitating quick data retrieval and improved usability.

We also achieved an essential upgrade, transitioning Azure Functions V1 (.net framework) to V2/3 (.net core 2.2), paving the way for improved performance and compatibility.

In order to promote a fully Test-Driven Development (TDD) approach, we produced several NuGet packages for Azure Functions. These ranged from generating Swagger Documentation for a Function to writing Dependency Injection (DI), enhancing code maintainability and reliability across the service.

To augment data for reporting, we utilized Azure Maps to enable Geocoding, providing geospatial context to our data. Simultaneously, we implemented a backup procedure for Cosmos DB and added a change feed to push data to Azure SQL for Power BI reports, securing data integrity and enhancing data visualization capabilities.

Our collaboration with the DevOps team led to the successful implementation of a development and release standard throughout the project, optimizing the release process and reinforcing the project’s agility and stability.

Key Features
Serverless Architecture
Leveraged Azure Functions to deploy a scalable, cost-effective serverless application.
Advanced Search Capabilities
Utilized Azure Search for robust data retrieval across multiple collections.
Data Integrity and Visualization
Secured data with Cosmos DB backup procedures and leveraged Azure SQL for insightful Power BI reporting.
Geospatial Context:
Integrated Azure Maps to enhance data with geospatial context for detailed reporting.
API Management
Managed and secured APIs efficiently using Azure API Management.
Test-Driven Development
Promoted reliable, maintainable code with Test-Driven Development using NuGet and Swagger.
Excellent observability and supportability
Enhanced observability and supportability, offering detailed insights into application performance and health, and robust support structures for troubleshooting and resolution.
The Impact

KSB Technologies led a team of 8 professionals on a government project to deliver a Serverless RESTful Web API. Using C#, .Net Core, Azure Functions, and Azure Cosmos DB, we ensured scalability and flexibility. Our implementation of Azure Search, Azure Maps, and DevOps practices optimized data retrieval, reporting, and release processes. The successful project showcased our expertise in cutting-edge technologies and best practices, making a significant impact on government initiatives.

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