Skip to main content
pdf?stylesheet=default
Blackboard Help

Sizing Storage for Dell

Media and Content Storage

Blackboard Learn uses a non-relational file system for the storage of multi-media and binary files such as text files, images, word processing documents, spreadsheets, and other file types used in teaching and learning.

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

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

Both of these network-based file system protocols allow for simplified management, ease of data expansion, and multiple access points from applications servers. Load balanced installations can use both file system types. Deploying storage on a local application server can also be implemented, but Blackboard does not recommend doing so.

File system content can range from 5–100 times the size of the database content. File system content from a block perspective is touched less frequently than the database file system. Clients can opt to configure their systems to a lesser performing RAID configuration with slower spindles because I/O performance is less of a concern.

Blackboard recommends that clients determine a storage quota per student and faculty member as well as account for passive users that require less storage quota. Assume that faculty will have greater storage requirements. Following is a simple example:

Sample Storage Quotas
Profile Quota Users Storage Needs
Faculty 5GB 500 2.5 TB + RAID Considerations
Student 500MB 10,000 5TB + RAID Considerations
Other 20MB 1,000 20GB + RAID Considerations

Sizing the file system depends on archival strategies, data management policies, RAID configuration, and I/O performance standards. Blackboard typically assumes that the file system will require about 100+ I/O per second per application server at peak. To calculate your I/O per second needs, multiply this metric against the number of application servers in your deployment.

Database Data File Storage

Blackboard Learn uses a relational database system (Oracle and SQL Server) for the storage of database content.

Clients on UNIX platforms may use one of the following:

  • A network file share (NFS)
  • ISCSI (networked block-level)
  • Direct attached storage (block-level)

Clients on Windows SQL Server may use one of the following:

  • ISCSI (networked block-level)
  • Direct attached storage (block-level)

The database storage requirements of institutions can vary. Typically, database content can range from 5–100 times less than file system content. Sizing the database depends on archival strategies, data management policies, RAID configuration, and, most importantly, I/O performance standards. Blackboard typically assumes that the file system will require between 350 to 600 I/O per second per application server at peak. To calculate your I/O per second needs, multiply this metric against the number of application servers in your deployment. The primary driver for database storage should be performance.

Storage Performance

The database tier has variable I/O performance needs, therefore, Blackboard recommends using fibre channel drives with 10,000 to 15,000 RPM capacity. To deliver adequate I/O throughput, Blackboard also recommends using smaller capacity drives so that there will be more spindles to reduce seek times and improve data transfer rates.

The I/O performance requirements are not the same for the shared file system. Slower, condensed storage options using SATA or SAS disks in the range of 7,200 or 10,000 RPM are more than adequate. The configurations defined in this topic have been validated to support adequate I/O throughput for the user loads defined for each configuration. When sizing storage, be sure to do the following:

  1. Determine how much storage your institution will need.
  2. Determine how this storage can be spread across multiple trays and disks to optimize performance throughput.

Remember that the shared file system can require upwards of 5–100 times the amount of storage of the database. However, the database can use 5–20 times the number of I/O operations per second than the shared file system.

Storage Performance
Description Standard Advanced Complex
Content Storage Tier UNIX: Network Attached Storage Architecture

Windows: CIFS Architecture

Up to 2.2 TB of usable storage

7.2k to 10k RPM SATA or SAS disks
UNIX: Network Attached Storage Architecture

Windows: CIFS Architecture

Up to 5 TB of usable storage

7.2k to 10k RPM SATA or SAS disks
UNIX: Network Attached Storage Architecture

Windows: CIFS Architecture

Up to 10 TB of usable storage

7.2k to 10k RPM SATA or SAS disks
Database Storage Tier UNIX: Network Attached Storage Architecture, ISCSI, or FC-SAN

Windows: ISCSI or FC-SAN

Up to 500 GB of usable storage

10k to 15k RPM FC
UNIX: Network Attached Storage Architecture, ISCSI, or FC-SAN

Windows: ISCSI or FC-SAN

Up to 1 TB of usable storage

10k to 15k RPM FC
UNIX: Network Attached Storage Architecture, ISCSI, or FC-SAN

Windows: ISCSI or FC-SAN

Up to 2 TB of usable storage

10k to 15k RPM FC