Baruch Computing and Technology Center (BCTC)

Blackboard 8.0 Status Update

 

Dear Colleagues:

As you know from e-mails sent earlier today, the Blackboard system remained stable overnight.  At about 7:15 a.m., it began to exhibit the same erratic behavior that we have been monitoring over the last week and eventually became unavailable at about 8:30 a.m.  

The Blackboard Crisis Response Team, comprising representatives from CIS, Blackboard, Oracle, SUN, VM Ware, Cisco, and All Stream, has been meeting since early morning and working to restore the system to a normal state.  Under the guidance of Cisco, Oracle and Sun, we have installed diagnostic tools and equipment to provide us with additional data and have applied patches provided by Sun Microsystems.  While we do not believe that these efforts alone will keep the system from crashing again, we must be thorough in our efforts to restore the system.  

A the same time, we are moving to a “hosted environment,” and I would like to explain more about what that means.  From the users’ point of view, everything will look and function the same.   However from behind the scenes the Blackboard 8.0 system will no longer run at the CIS data center.  The University would use Blackboard 8.0 software installed on hardware located at the Blackboard, Inc. data center in Virginia .  This hosted Blackboard 8.0 environment was established by Blackboard to support its customers, and Blackboard manages and maintains its on a round-the-clock basis.  CIS is also working on an approach for users to log in to the hosted environment system and modifying our network and Internet connections to handle the additional traffic.  Our goal is to make this cutover as easy and transparent as possible to all users.  

We believe that this plan will assist our efforts to identify the root cause(s) of these persistent problems, including whether they stem from within the CIS environment or are inherent to the Blackboard 8.0 system.  If the problems are not resolved while the system runs at Blackboard’s data center, then our focus will shift to the Blackboard 8.0 system and we will ensure that the company corrects these problems.  Should the problems turn out to reside at CIS, we will use the time while running in a hosted environment to track the root cause(s) and correct them.

The move to a hosted environment requires several steps, including but not limited to the following:

    • Data from the CUNY Blackboard 8.0 environment must be transferred to the hosted environment and any updates to the data must be synchronized between the CUNY location and the Blackboard location  
    • Blackboard, Inc. must load the data and CUNY must test the hosted system to ensure that all data and features/functions are working properly
    • A process to log in to the hosted environment must be established and fully tested
    • Any networking-related issues will need to be identified and monitored

While CIS is already working on many of these items, we cannot yet establish a firm completion time.  However, we do know that several days of work are required.  We will have a better sense of the timeline as progress is made on the data transfer and work on these many issues progresses.   We will continue to update the user community.  

During this time, the Blackboard Crisis Response Team will attempt to restore service and keep the system at CIS operating.  Users should be advised that the system will be available sporadically until we can move to the hosted environment.  We therefore strongly recommend that users save their data frequently in order to avoid potential data loss.  

Thank you.

Brian Cohen
Associate Vice Chancellor and University CIO
City University of New York
Brian.Cohen@mail.cuny.edu
(212) 541-0365

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