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Set Up the Hardware and Software on Windows in a Load-Balanced Configuration

A load-balanced configuration requires that the first application server and database server be installed using the two server configuration model. After that, the Installer can be run again on each additional application server to install only those components. Each additional Web/application server must also meet the required prerequisites.

Make sure that the hardware, software, and network are prepared before beginning to configure and install Blackboard Learn in a load-balanced environment.

Network File Share and Common Internet File System

Clients on UNIX platforms should use a network file share (NFS).

Clients on Windows platforms should use a common Internet file system (CIFS).

Required Hardware

Hardware Sizing Information for Windows Dell Environments and Hardware Sizing Information for UNIX Sun Environments detail several different hardware configurations based on performance, cost, and redundancy. Make sure that the planned hardware configuration meets the needs of the institution.

Required Software

For the exact versions of the operating systems, databases, and Java SE Developers Kit (JDK™) that are supported, see "Supported Technologies" in the Release Notes for the release that you are installing. It is critical that the software used to host Blackboard Learn meets requirements.

The supported version of the JDK can be downloaded at

Download and install the JDK on each application server.

Make sure that the server or servers are dedicated to Blackboard Learn. Make sure that the server is not using valuable space and resources running unnecessary applications.

Collaboration Server

Select one of the existing application servers to also act as the collaboration server. Alternatively, a separate server may be dedicated as the collaboration server. To learn more, see Set Up a Collaboration Server. The collaboration server may not be spread across multiple application servers because all users participating in a Collaboration session must share the same resources. A single server must be configured to run the collaboration server. This server must handle Collaboration sessions and performance will be unaffected by other requests. The application servers are configured to connect users to one server that handles all the Collaboration sessions.

The collaboration server must be configured to use the domain account in a load balanced environment. Do not connect the collaboration server to the load-balancer.

Dedicated File System Server

Set aside one server as a dedicated file system server. The content files must be centralized so that all files are available to users regardless of the application server handling the connection. The application servers are configured to find the content files in a directory on the file system server.


The correct version of the JDK must be installed on the application server and the JAVA_HOME environment variable must be set. The JDK installer first installs the JDK, then the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). Ensure that these are installed to different locations and the JRE installer is not allowed to overwrite portions of the JDK.

Make sure that the path to the JDK does not include any spaces. For example, do not use C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_18. Instead, use C:\Java\jdk1.6.0_18.

Follow these steps to set the JAVA_HOME environment variable:

  1. Make sure that the correct version of the JDK is installed on the application server.
  2. Right-click Computer and select Properties.
  3. Click Advanced System Properties.
  4. Click Environment Variables.
  5. In the system variables list, find JAVA_HOME and click Edit. If JAVA_HOME does not exist in the system variables list, click New. A pop-up window will appear. The Variable name should read JAVA_HOME.
  6. Enter the full path to the JDK in the Variable value field. For example, C:\Java\jdk1.6.0_18.
  7. Click OK.

Click paths for Windows 2003 and SQL 2005 will vary slightly from the steps presented here for Windows 2008 and SQL Server 2008.

Confirm NTFS File System

Blackboard Learn will work only with the NTFS file system. It will not work correctly if the Windows file system is FAT32. Follow the steps below to confirm that the disk is using the NTFS file system.

  1. Double-click My Computer.
  2. Right-click on the disk where Blackboard Learn will be installed.
  3. Select Properties.
  4. The File System field should show NTFS. If it shows FAT32, consult the operating system documentation for instructions on converting the disk to a NTFS file system.
  5. Repeat these steps on each application server, the database server, and the file system server.

Confirm Windows Server 2003 Prerequisites

If using Windows Server 2003, the following requirements must be met before beginning:

  • Install the Windows 2003 Resource Kit and the IIS 6.0 Resource Kit on each application server.

    Download the Windows Resource Kit and the IIS 6.0 Resource Kit from Microsoft at

  • Install the SQL Server Client Tools on each application server.

    The Client Tools allow the application servers to communicate with the database. Without the Client Tools, the Installer will fail. After installation, if the Client Tools are not available, the application server will not be able to query the database or enter database transactions.

Confirm Windows Server 2008 Operating System Prerequisites

There is no Windows 2008 Resource Kit software package available from Microsoft for download at this time. The resource kit exists primarily as documentation for the Windows 2008 release.

There is no IIS 7 Resource Kit software package available from Microsoft for download at this time. The resource kit exists primarily as documentation for the Windows 2008 release.

SQL Server Client Tools needs to be installed on each application server.

Configure Windows Server 2008 IIS 7 Roles and Features

To learn more, see Configuring Windows Server 2008 IIS 7 Roles and Features.

Create a Domain User

Create a domain user (for example, “blackboard”) that will have access to the application servers, the file server, and the database server. This user must be part of the Administrators group throughout the setup and installation. After this user is created, use it to log in to the servers.

Add the Domain User to the IIS_IUSRS Group

The domain user created in the steps above must be added to the IIS_IUSRS Group, where domain_name is replaced with your Windows domain: w32tm/monitor/domain:domain_name. If this association is not created, the website will not display.

  1. Log in as the domain user.
  2. Right-click Computer and select Manage.
  3. From the Server Manager, click Configuration, and then click the plus sign next to Local Users and Groups to expand the folders.
  4. Click Groups.
  5. Right-click on IIS_IUSRS.
  6. Select Add to Group from the drop-down list.
  7. Click Add.
  8. Enter the domain user "blackboard".
  9. Click OK.
  10. If asked to enter the username and password for that account, do so, and then click OK.

Set Up IIS Security

The domain user created in the steps above must be added to IIS security. Follow these steps to configure IIS on each application server.

  1. Log in as the domain user (for example, domain\blackboard) on the first application server.
  2. Right-click Computer and select Manage.
  3. From the Server Manager, click Roles, click Web Server (IIS), then click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
  4. Stop the Default Web Site by expanding Sites, right-clicking on Default Web Site, selecting Manage Web Site, and then selecting Stop.
  5. Configure Directory Security by clicking the Features View button at the bottom of the page and then double-clicking Authentication.
  6. Right-click on Anonymous Authentication and select Edit. IUSR should appear in the specific user field.
  7. Configure the Application Pool by clicking Application Pools.
  8. Right-click DefaultAppPool and select Advanced Settings.
  9. Under the Process Model heading, in the Identity /NetworkService cell, click the ... (ellipses) button.
  10. Select Custom account, and then click Set.
  11. Enter the domain user name and password, and then click OK.
  12. Restart IIS so that the changes will take effect.
  13. Repeat these steps for each application server.

Configure SQL Server Agent Automatic Startup

The SQL Server Agent must be running and set to Automatic startup for Blackboard Learn where %INSTANCE% is the name of the database instance (blank for a default instance).

  1. Right-click Computer and select Manage.
  2. From the Server Manager, click Configuration and then click Services.
  3. Right-click SQL Server Agent (instance) and select Properties.
  4. From the Startup type drop-down list, select Automatic.
  5. Click OK.

Synchronize Server Clocks

Check the date and time on the system and make sure it is accurate and that the time zone is set correctly. Check that the time on the application server and database server match. Remember that the servers may be in a different time zone than users. Blackboard Learn uses the server date and time to control the availability of time-sensitive materials. It is important that users have a clear expectation of when materials will be available and when assignments are due.

Windows clients connected to a Domain can check their time offset using the following command where domain_name is replaced with your Windows domain: w32tm/monitor/domain:domain_name

Windows clients that are connected to a domain can force time synchronization using the following command: w32tm/resync


Blackboard Learn requires ports to communicate. The list below details the required ports and their default values. Make sure to configure server security and any firewalls to allow communication on the required ports. All application servers must use the same port settings.

  • Web server port (default value: 80): This port handles communication between users and the server.
  • collaboration server TCP/IP port (default value: 8010): This port handles TCP communication for the collaboration server. By default, TCP communication connects users to the collaboration server.
  • collaboration server HTTP port (default value: 8011): This port handles HTTP communication for the collaboration server. HTTP is a backup if TCP communication fails.
  • Secure Web server HTTPS port (default value:443): This port handles SSL over HTTP communication between the users and the server. SSL capability is usually configured after the initial installation is complete.

Do not use a firewall to redirect ports. The internal port configured on the server must match the external port on the external firewall.


Keep in mind the following when connecting Blackboard Learn to the network:

  • Do not use underscores in the machine name for the server or servers.
  • Set up the DNS server to resolve the hardware load-balancer. The hardware load-balancer will then direct traffic to the application servers. Set up a separate DNS entry for the dedicated collaboration server.
  • Check with a network engineer to make sure that the network can handle the anticipated load after Blackboard Learn is made available to users.
  • An SMTP server is available so that the Installer can connect to it.
  • An SMTP server has to remain available when the application is running in order to deliver email notifications.


Keep in mind the following when installing and configuring Microsoft SQL Server:

  • Install SQL Server at the drive level, for example, C:\SQL Server.
  • Use Mixed Mode Security Authentication.
  • Make sure SQL Server is installed using a local account.
  • Blackboard recommends using the default instance name. If the default instance name is not used, the instance name must not include any underscores, spaces, or punctuation. Use only alphanumeric characters.
  • If an instance other than the default is used, make sure that the instance is not case sensitive.
  • The default password for the 'sa' account is a blank value.
  • The SQL Server Client Tools must be installed on each application server.
  • Blackboard Learn supports SQL Server failover. To learn more, see Set Up Database Clustering and Storage for Windows.