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Optional Tasks

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Set up database clustering and storage

Database clustering and storage can provide redundancy and improve high availability for the database serving the Learn installation.

Windows SQL Server database clustering and storage

Setting up SQL Server Failover and setting up a separate storage device for the data files and log files are optional steps. Many institutions will not need to set up SQL Server Failover or to set up the data files and log files on a separate storage device.

Set up SQL server failover

Blackboard Learn can be run using database clustering for redundancy. Database clustering instantly transfers database requests to an identical server if the database server fails.

Blackboard Learn is designed to work with Microsoft SQL Server Failover clusters. SQL Server Failover provides added fault tolerance to the database by using another database in the cluster in the case of an error that causes the production database to fail.

A SQL Server Failover cluster is based on the same design as a Windows cluster. A group of servers are joined to provide continual service in the event of an outage or failure. When SQL Server is forced to shut down, another server steps in to handle requests.

The process for setting up a Microsoft SQL Server failover cluster is done at the operating system and database level before installing Blackboard Learn.

  1. Set up the Microsoft server cluster.
  2. Install SQL Server and configure the failover cluster.
  3. Set up optional file system storage
  4. Install Blackboard Learn.

The following is a list of tips for setting up SQL Server failover.

  • Use four public IP addresses: node 1, node 2, Windows cluster server, and virtual SQL server.
  • The local disk of each node must be attached to a separate SCSI controller. It should not use the same one that is attached to the RAID system.
  • The RAID SCSI controller IDs of the two nodes must be different.
  • RAID SCSI BIOS must be set up to enable cluster (shared bus).
  • The names of the network cards cannot contain spaces or special characters.
  • Do not use the default instance name for installing SQL server on a virtual server. The instance name must not include any underscores, spaces, or punctuation. Use only alphanumeric characters.
  • MSDTC service must be running before starting SQL server setup.

To learn more about installing and configuring a Microsoft SQL Server failover cluster, see Microsoft TechNet at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/. While Blackboard supports SQL Server failover with Blackboard Learn, Microsoft is the best resource for information about installing and configuring a Microsoft SQL Server failover cluster.

Set up a separate storage device for the data files and log files

The Installer will prompt for the directory where the database data files and log files should be stored. Consult the Microsoft SQL Server documentation for information about storing these files on a separate device. Keep in mind that the storage device should have a dedicated, high-bandwidth connection to the database server.


Oracle database clustering and storage

These steps are optional. Many institutions will have no need to set up RAC or to set up the data files and index files on a separate storage device.

If these options are unnecessary, proceed to the instructions for setting up a separate file system server.

Oracle RAC

It is strongly recommended by Blackboard that for purposes of system management Blackboard Learn be installed on a single instance of Oracle. If for reasons of Institutional Policy you must run Blackboard Learn in a RAC environment you may do so, but Blackboard will only support the installation at the Learn-Oracle JDBC layer - not at the Oracle RAC layer.

More on running Blackboard Learn with RAC

The thin JDBC driver should be used to connect to an Oracle RAC system. However, should additional functionality be required, for example, control over network layer encryption, switching to the OCI native driver is possible.

Set up a separate storage device for the data files and log files

The Installer will prompt for the directory where the database data files and log files should be stored. For information about storing these files on a separate device, see the Oracle documentation. Keep in mind that the storage device should have a dedicated, high-bandwidth connection to the database server.


Set up file system storage

Setting up file system storage on a separate storage device is an optional step for Blackboard Learn. Utilizing an external storage management system improves high availability and management opportunities for your storage architecture.

  • Clients on UNIX platforms should use a network file share (NFS).
  • Clients on Windows platforms should use a common Internet file system (CIFS).

About file system storage

All of the content files for Blackboard Learn, such as files uploaded to courses and image files, are stored by default in the Blackboard content directory. If your institution licenses content management, the Content Collection has several content directories, each one dedicated to one of the top-level directories. For example, the library directory stores all the files for the Library.

In a load-balanced configuration, this location must be accessible by all of the application servers. The location can be a share on one of the application servers or on the database server, or it can be a SAN (storage area network) or NAS (network-attached storage) on a separate file server.
These instructions detail how to set up the blackboard content directory on a separate file server. The same methods can be repeated to set up the content management directories on a separate file server.

Windows: The use of a separate storage device requires additional configuration of the Blackboard services to allow them to run under the permission of a domain user.

How to set up a shared file system

Follow these steps to setup the blackboard content directory on another server.

UNIX

  1. Log in to the file system server and create a directory that will store the content files.
  2. Log in to the application server and create a mount eg: /blackboard/content that is used as the shared content directory or points to the content directory on the file system server. Note: the mount point must be the same on every application server.

Using a symbolic link may cause problems with permissions when using building blocks due to Java restrictions on use of symbolic links.

Windows

Log in to the file server as a domain user (for example, domain\blackboard) with administrative privileges. This is the user that runs the Web/application server. That is, this must be the user that logs in to the application server and owns control of the Blackboard services. In this example, the domain user is blackboard.

  1. Create a directory to store Blackboard Learn content files. For example, C:\bb_content.
  2. Right-click on the bb_content directory and select Properties.
  3. From the Sharing tab, select Advanced Sharing.
  4. Select Share this folder.
  5. Select Permissions. The Permissions for bb_content window displays.
  6. Set Permissions so that the administrators and the domain user who will be running the Blackboard services, such as "blackboard," have full control. No other users should have access to this directory.
  7. After setting permissions, select the Security tab, and then select Edit.
  8. Set Security so that the administrators and the domain user who will be running the Blackboard services, such as "blackboard," have full control. No other users should have access to this directory.
  9. Select OK.
  10. When prompted by the Installer for the location of the blackboard\content directory, type\\FILESERVER\bb_content.
  11. If you are installing content management, the Installer will prompt for the location of the individual Content Collection directories. When prompted, type the path to \\FILESERVER\bb_content\storage followed by a subdirectory name for each individual content management directory. For example, the \users directory should be stored in \\FILESERVER\bb_content\storage\users. Alternatively, the Content Collection files can be stored on a separate, dedicated, share directory.