I would like to take this time to update you on the current status of the Blackboard 8.0.  The following is a synopsis of emails sent by Brian Cohen on Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2009.  I will continue to update the user community as we receive information.

This has been a very frustrating time for the local campuses and the team at CUNY Information Systems (CIS).  The high demand for CPU resources caused the system to once again become unresponsive.

The Blackboard Crisis Response Team, comprising representatives from CIS, Blackboard, Oracle, Sun, VM Ware, Cisco, and All Stream, have been working to restore the system to a normal state.  Under the guidance of Cisco, Oracle, and Sun, CIS has installed diagnostic tools and equipment to provide additional data and have applied patches provided by Sun Microsystems.  While CIS does not believe that these efforts alone will keep the system from crashing again, they are being thorough in their efforts to restore the system.

At the same time, it has been announced by CIS that they are moving to a “hosted environment,” for Blackboard.  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 it on a round-the-clock basis.  CIS is also working on an approach for users to log in to the hosted environment system and are modifying their network and Internet connections to handle the additional traffic.  The goal is to make this cutover as easy and transparent as possible to all users.

CIS believes 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 CIS focus will shift to the Blackboard 8.0 system and CIS will ensure that the company corrects these problems.  Should the problems turn out to reside at CIS, they will use the time while running in a hosted environment to track the root cause(s) and correct them.

To carry out this hosted system objective, a team of CIS staff responsible for achieving this transition to the Blackboard data center has been identified.

Some of the tasks that need to be completed before CIS can cutover to a hosted environment include:  moving the most current copy of the CUNY Blackboard 8.0 data/content to the Blackboard data center, establishing a technical and secure process that will allow our users to authenticate and login to the system at Blackboard, and modifying the current network architecture to allow for the increased network traffic over the Internet for this Blackboard usage.  Teams from both Blackboard and CUNY have already taken steps in each of these areas.  Data transfers have been tested and the actual transfer of data has started.  Brian Cohen states he has been assured by the Blackboard CEO that his team will work quickly to accomplish this cutover and he will be able to provide a better estimate of the time needed to complete the cutover once the data transfer has been completed.  However, they cannot yet establish a firm completion time.