We’re changing how we host Blackboard Learn

We’re moving from Managed Hosting to SaaS.

At the end of July, we’ll migrate to SaaS hosting. This always runs the latest version of Blackboard Learn, and upgrades don’t require it to be unavailable while they are installed.

To do this, we need to take the live system offline to allow for the materials to be moved and final testing to be conducted before being made available to users on the new environment.

What is SaaS?

SaaS (Software aa Service) is Blackboard’s latest hosting.

Why are we doing this?

On Managed Hosting, upgrades would take between six and 16 hours. This meant we didn’t upgrade often, usually over the summer. Any upgrades during term time were for urgent fixes to bugs, and were done sparingly.

Zero downtime updates

On SaaS, Blackboard automatically apply updates, and there is no downtime to get these installed.

(Note that there still will be periods of time when Blackboard is unavailable for maintenance of the infrastructure)

Fixes and new features

As we’ll always be running the latest version of Blackboard, we’ll automatically have access to fixes, and we’ll be able to switch on new features as and when required.

On Managed Hosting, if we discovered an issue with Blackboard in September, not only would we have to wait for Blackboard to release a fix for it, we would then have to wait for our next upgrade window, which would be several months away.

On SaaS, we get the fix as soon as it is released by Blackboard.

When are we doing this?

The migration will start on 29 July 2019, and will finish on 31 July 2019.

Blackboard will be unavailable while the migration takes place. 

What will change?

We’re moving everything over from Managed Hosting to SaaS.

We’ve spent the last several weeks working with Blackboard to plan the migration so we know how long it will take, and if there are any issues with features (see SignUp lists, below).

New version of Blackboard

We’ll be moving from Blackboard Learn Q2 2018 to continuous delivery. We’ll post about the fixes nearer the time of the migration.

Updated building blocks

As we would with every Blackboard upgrade, we also need to upgrade the building blocks. So you may see some minor differences with how things like Panopto, Turnitin, Kaltura etc behave. We’ll post details of those nearer the time of the migration.

SignUp lists

⚠️ SignUp lists do not work on SaaS hosting ⚠️

Unfortunately, not everything we run is compatible with SaaS Hosting.

Testing, and the experiences of other institutions who have already made the move to SaaS, shows that SignUp lists do not work on SaaS.

This is an open source building block, created by colleagues at Durham University. Unfortunately, there isn’t a replacement we are able to deploy. This means that SignUp lists will stop working after we move to SaaS.

Who can I contact?

If the timing of the dowtime is of concern to you, or for any other queries and questions, contact The Technology-Enhanced Learning team.



📷 by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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