What's New With School Data Sync

Welcome to the School Data Sync (SDS) “What’s New” page. We're continuously improving the service with new features and updates that make SDS easy to set up and use. Bookmark this page so you can stay on top of the latest improvements.

We're excited to announce that the new School Data Sync (SDS) experience is in Public Preview. The new SDS experience is an opt-in during our Public Preview.

To use the Public Preview version, SDS (Classic) will have an invitation message and link on the homepage, which allows you to navigate to the new experience. You can also navigate directly to the latest version of SDS by going to https://sds.microsoft.com/v2. This milestone also completes the bridge, which first started with SDS for Insights, which is now rebranded as the new School Data Sync.

SDS contains many of the same top features as SDS (Classic), such as the ability to synchronize users and create class groups and teams. Additionally, SDS has various enhancements and improvements over SDS (Classic).

  • Decoupled data ingestion: Data ingestion is decoupled from all Microsoft 365 directory provisioning tasks. The updated architecture provides more flexibility and control over using SDS with synced SIS/SMS data for various small, targeted purposes instead of forcing admins to deploy SDS and several of its capabilities in an all-or-nothing approach.
  • Faster syncs and fewer errors: Mapping SIS / SMS users with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) occur during data ingestion against a locally cached copy of Azure AD, allowing for faster processing times, more efficient filtering out of unmatched users for provisioning enrollment updates, and dramatically reducing the volume of errors generated. For more information, see User identity rules.
  • Scale: Extra-large organizations no longer need to split up single data sources into separate data ingestion flows to ingest it. Now, tenants use a single data ingestion flow to bring in SIS/SMS data from a single source.
  • Health, monitoring, statistics, and reporting: Improved visibility into the health of your data with Run health and Flow health, including institution statistics, for awareness and calls to action.
  • Modern UI: A new user interface for managing educational institution data and is aligned with the other Microsoft 365 admin center experiences.

The SDS team will continue to add new features over time. Stay tuned for more updates!

  • SDS v2.1 CSV Format: SDS has evolved the SDS CSV file schema for both K12 and Higher Education, and includes new data elements, like broader user roles, user demographics and user program flags. The new data elements are used for both SDS provisioning, insights, and analytics scenarios. The specification is inspired by OneRoster standards and includes several innovative features. For more information on the full format, see SDS v2.1 CSV format.

    • Only requires 3 CSV files for user management only scenarios: orgs.csv, users.csv, and roles.csv
    • Only requires 5 CSV files for user and class management scenarios: orgs.csv, users.csv, roles.csv, classes.csv, and enrollments.csv
    • 29 Organization / Primary User roles for K12 & Higher Education (including students and teachers)
    • 20 Organization types for K12 & Higher Education with support for Organizational Hierarchy
    • Support for user to multiple organization associations
    • Grade Level association for Educators and Students
    • 27 Class Enrollment roles for K12 & Higher Education, including scenarios where users may be an Educator (owner) in one class and a student (member) in another.
  • More data from OneRoster API: IT Admins can synchronize data elements previously only supported in CSV files like parents and guardians, demographics, and user flags data (support is based on providers that have completed changes to support providing the additional data). For more information on SIS/SMS OneRoster API and provider data support, see OneRoster Provider Overview.

    • Not all fields are supported to bring data into the new SDS experience based on the v1 format. You'll find them noted in SDS v1 CSV File Format under column Required? as data not supported. Also, Grade values and Course Subject values passed must align to their corresponding List of Values (ENUM) codes.
    • Customers using other SDS (Classic) formats need to move to supported formats:
      • SDS UK CSV -> SDS v1 CSV or SDS v2.1 CSV
      • SDS v2 CSV -> SDS v2.1 CSV
      • Clever CSV -> SDS v1 CSV or SDS v2.1 CSV
      • Apple School Manager (ASM) -> SDS v2.1 CSV
        • For Apple School Manager, only need to provide orgs.csv, with a single organization record, users.csv, and roles.csv required fields and corresponding data.
  • Custom List of Values: SDS has made some more changes to its schema, but it's likely that different institutions have different enumerations. SDS now allows admins to create custom reference definitions for key enumerations like organization Grade Level, Academic Subjects, and others. This allows for simplified exports from SIS / SMS with data elements. This will also ensure Insights and Analytics solutions enabled reflect the naming conventions for these attributes present within the institution, instead of being forced to use the default values provided within the schema. For more information on expanding enumerations, see managing List of Values.

  • Manage Microsoft 365 Users: A core feature is the ability to map SIS/SMS users with your Azure AD users. If using Azure AD Connect, or another provisioning process for end users, the default setting is just to match existing users between the systems based on your configuration for User Identity Rules. SDS can also be configured to create and license staff and student users for those not automating users to their cloud Azure AD. SDS also includes configuration of default passwords that follow Azure AD Password Protection that meets scoring calculations to be accepted. For more information as part of managing users with Azure AD, see managing Microsoft 365 users.

  • Manage Microsoft 365 Groups and Class Teams: Another core feature is the ability to create groups and class Team and sync enrollments from SIS/SMS data. An improvement for Class Teams and delayed student access, now the educator can prepare the class early, and once ready, they can Activate the class to let students gain access to the class. Administrators can choose not to automatically create class teams, for educator-initiated scenarios, by having them be based off an Azure AD Class Group that the educator is an owner of. Additionally, admins can define the group Owner and Member roles beyond just the teacher as Owner and student as Member, based on the 27 class enrollment roles now supporting K12 & Higher Education. For more information, see managing Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams.

  • Free Insights for Education Leaders: Previously known as SDS for Insights / Insights Premium, SDS allows IT Admins the ability to link user metadata, roles, classes, and organizational hierarchy from connected SIS / SMS data to the Insights application in Teams for Education. Education leaders can access student activity data from across their organizations with big-picture views on assignment turn-in, class participation, and more to help make informed decisions to plan for student success on an organizational scale. Learn more at enabling Insights for Education Leaders on how to set up SDS.

    • Existing SDS for Insights / Insights Premium customers, that are actively using the "Ingest from my SDS (Classic) Sync Profiles" in SDS to link data for insights, have been updated to the Insights for Education Leaders sync.
    • Other School Data Sync (Classic) customers need to plan for their transition to the new SDS experience to utilize the free feature.
  • Free Education Data Lake Export: Previously known as SDS for Insights / Insights Premium Export, all data ingested by SDS can be exported to your own Azure Data Lake, including activity data, allowing you to build your own rich analytics from their SIS/SMS linked to activity and signals data in your Azure environment by combining the power through Open Education Analytics for a modern data estate. Learn more at enabling Education Data Lake Export.