Each May, between Spring and Summer semesters we complete major changes in our Blackboard system. This year was no different in that regard except that the changes were not so major for the end users of the system. In the past, we made significant upgrades to the version of the software so that users saw new features or had new tools available. This year the change was in the environment in which Blackboard runs.
We have been running Blackboard on the same operating system with the same database system for about 6 years. Both the operating system and database system have been upgraded and would soon no longer be supported. We had to make a change. Over the past academic year we tried a test migration to the new operating system and database system that retained all the old courses and content. We ran into many problems with this strategy. In the end we were forced to rethink our plan and decided that a clean installation of the system and restoration of only one semester’s courses was our best option.
In addition to the change in operating system and database, we also shifted to a virtualized environment. In a virtualized environment, software emulates the physical machine. Multiple systems can be run on the same server, allowing consolidation of hardware. One of the advantages of server virtualization is disaster recovery. In the event of a catastrophic event affecting our servers, we can recover the system rapidly on another server in a different location.