Before installing the Blackboard Learn software, it is necessary to create a healthy environment to host Blackboard Learn. At this stage, decisions include determining the number of servers, the operating system and database software to use, how powerful the servers must be, the appropriate amount of disk space, and whether the network is capable of handling the anticipated traffic.
Read the Hardware Sizing Information
Hardware Sizing Information for Windows Dell Environment and Hardware Sizing Information for UNIX Sun Microsystems Environment provide detailed information about choosing the appropriate hardware based on size, scalability, performance, and redundancy needs. Read the appropriate section of the help before continuing.
Choose an Operating System
Blackboard supports operating systems from three vendors for hosting Blackboard Learn:
- Microsoft Windows Server®
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux®
- Sun Solaris™
For the exact versions of the databases that are supported, see "Supported Technologies" in the Release Notes for the release that you are installing. It is critical that the operating system used to host Blackboard Learn is a supported or compatible operating system. It is critical that the operating system used to host Blackboard Learn is a supported or compatible operating system.
SPARC hardware is required for to install and run Blackboard Learn under Solaris operating systems.
Choose a Database
This is an easy decision after selecting the operating system because Blackboard supports only one database for each supported operating system. Blackboard supports Microsoft SQL Server®, Enterprise Edition, when Blackboard Learn is hosted on a Windows operating system (the Standard Edition is compatible with Blackboard Learn). Blackboard supports Oracle® Enterprise Edition database when Blackboard Learn is hosted on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Sun Solaris operating system (Oracle Standard Edition is compatible with Blackboard Learn, but recommended only for non-production installations).
For the exact versions of the databases that are supported, see "Supported Technologies" in the Release Notes for the release that you are installing.
Decide the Number of Servers
Read Hardware Sizing Information for Windows Dell Environment and Hardware Sizing Information for UNIX Sun Microsystems Environment provide to determine hardware requirements for the installation. For the purposes of running the Installer, match the hardware to one of the following models:
- One server: This configuration hosts Blackboard Learn application software, file system, and database on one machine. Keep in mind that a one server configuration is appropriate for running a test system.
- Two servers: This configuration hosts Blackboard Learn application software with the file system on one machine and the database on another machine. This configuration is appropriate for institutions with a smaller user base that do not need the performance or redundancy of a load-balanced configuration.
- Load-balanced: This configuration hosts the file system on one machine, the database on another machine, and the application software is replicated on multiple machines to handle more activity. This configuration offers the greatest scalability and redundancy.
Some institutions may require database clustering as a redundancy to ensure that the system is always available, even in the event of a database server crash.
For Windows, Blackboard supports installation on a Microsoft SQL Server Failover configuration. To learn more, see (Optional) Set Up Database Clustering and Storage for Windows.
For UNIX, Blackboard offers support for Oracle RAC with all versions of Oracle supported by Blackboard. To learn more, see (Optional) Set Up Database Clustering and Storage for UNIX.
File System Storage and Database File Storage
In many instances, it is useful to store data, such as the files uploaded to a Course, on separate storage hardware. To learn more, see (Optional) Set Up File System Storage for Windows or (Optional) Set Up File System Storage for UNIX. This is handled at the operating system level by pointing some directories or all directories to a separate storage device. Likewise, it is possible to offload storage of the database files to a separate hardware, such as a SAN.
Blackboard Learn includes features for synchronous communication such as a Chat Tool and a Whiteboard Tool. These features are wrapped into the Collaboration Tool available within Courses. The Collaboration Tool communications are handled by a dedicated service that requires its own ports.
Select one of the existing application servers to also act as the 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.
During installation, it is possible to specify that a separate machine will handle all Collaboration Tool communications. This requires that either an existing application server be dual-purposed, or a dedicated server be configured to host the Collaboration server. Those institutions running Blackboard Learn on just one or two servers, obviously would never opt to create a dedicated Collaboration server, and instead dual-purpose the existing application server. To learn more, see (Optional) Set Up a Collaboration Server for Windows in a Load-Balanced Configuration or (Optional) Set Up a Collaboration Server for UNIX in a Load-Balanced Configuration. With the exception of that topic, all references to a Collaboration Server assume that your environment is using a single existing application server that has been dual-purposed as the Collaboration server.
Do not connect the Collaboration server to the load balancer.