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Managing Blackboard. [ A System Administrator Discussion ]. Blackboard Academic Suite™, Blackboard Learning System™, Blackboard Community System™, Blackboard Content System™ This session will focus on best practices from a technology point of view Best Practices for System Administration

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managing blackboard

Managing Blackboard

[ A System Administrator Discussion ]

Blackboard Academic Suite™, Blackboard Learning System™, Blackboard Community System™, Blackboard Content System™

This session will focus on best practices from a technology point of view

Best Practices for System Administration

New System Administrators

System architecture

Building blocks management

Problem solving and strategy

panel members
Panel Members
  • Larry LambertOnline Instructional Support SpecialistSouthwestern College * Chula Vista, CA
  • Dave Dean, Ph.D.Information Technology System Specialist VEastern Washington University * Cheney, WA
about southwestern
About Southwestern
  • Community System: Enterprise Level for two-years
    • 7-servers: Load Balance, 2-Web Apps, NAS, SQL Database, Collaboration, Testing
    • Version 6.3.1.5
    • 20K students and 1,500 faculty
    • Snapshot, IIS integration
    • Windows 2000 platform
    • Portal used on Learning System only but campus wide in fall-2006
about southwestern1
About Southwestern
  • Physical space for employees and students to get technical support
    • Dedicated to Online Learning
    • 2-part time tech support people
    • 1-FT faculty Instructional Designer
    • 1-FT back and front-end System Administrator
    • 1-FT Multimedia Specialist
    • 1 FT Clerical Support
    • 1-FT Academic Administrator
slide8
About Southwestern - Challenges
  • Finding money!
    • (Title V had deep pockets)
  • Inadequate skills to be a system administrator
  • Inadequate support (no people)
  • An anonymous project (nobody knew what online was)
about ewu
About EWU
  • Self-hosted BASIC since 1999
  • Learning System Enterprise (1 year)
    • Version 6.3.1.424
  • 1,000 Courses / Term
  • 700 Instructors / Leaders
  • 8,000 Students active each week
  • ONE FTE TOTAL for server, systems, & application administration
    • Primary sysadm (.80) and backup (.15) and third backup (.05)
  • No snapshot, LDAP, SIS integration
discussion bullets
Discussion Bullets
  • Best Practices that we have found for:
    • System Administration
      • Server platform
      • Data protection
      • Problem tracking
      • Communicating
      • Planning / Upgrading
    • New System Administrators
    • System architecture
    • Building blocks management
    • Problem solving and strategy
server platform ewu
Server Platform - EWU
  • Production
    • Dual Dell PowerEdge 6650s
    • Hot spare 6650
  • Production and Test servers
  • Windows 2003, IIS, MS SQL Enterprise
server platform ewu1
Server Platform - EWU

“Don’t mess with the server during the school year.”

  • No optional patches, building blocks, tweaks, etc.
  • If you do have to mess with the server, GHOST it first.
scheduled downtimes ewu
Scheduled Downtimes - EWU
  • ½ day, 3rd, 6th, 9th Friday afternoons of each term from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday of break week
  • Entire last week of August
data protection ewu
Data Protection - EWU
  • Service level: If catastrophic server failure, won’t loose more than 2 hours of data
    • SQL backup every two hours
    • File replication at two hour intervals (courses subdirectories)
    • Full Ghost every three weeks
    • Nightly backups (incremental)
    • Weekly backups (full)
tools ewu
Tools - EWU
  • Sentry/Go monitor
    • (internal) monitors events and restarts services
  • SiteScope
    • (external) service monitoring and alerting
    • Accumulates history (hits, cpu, disk, etc.) used for forecasting of necessary upgrades
  • PeerSync
    • File replication service
  • BlackICE
    • Software firewall
  • Ghost and Veritas
    • Server imaging and backups
problem tracking ewu
Problem Tracking - EWU
  • Capture, then fix error
    • Need to capture via screen shots, log files, monitoring reports, etc.
    • Organize in way you understand
  • Monitoring BBADMIN-L
    • I have a “bbadmin-keepers” folder.
    • Also keep copies of bbadmin emails.
  • Do the basics, read release notes, etc.
new system administrators
New System Administrators
  • Develop key relationships with faculty and computer support areas
  • Become an expert in systems and online education
    • Create your Operations Manual
  • Set goals for support
    • 2-hour replies to support requests
    • Conduct periodic user surveys
    • Round-the-clock attention to make sure the system satys up and running
new system administrators1
New System Administrators
  • Develop a working relationship with administrators
  • Ensure your salary matches your responsibility level
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! . . . But not too much!
    • Begin messages via Blackboard with “BB”
    • Be conservative
    • Don’t tell everyone everything!
  • Place yourself on working committees
  • Grow thicker skin
  • Drink heavily……. And often
building blocks management
Building blocks management
  • Test drive first
  • Understand what they are: Third party software for PROFIT!
  • Define support for faculty
  • Make contact list for tech support
  • Include course cartridges
  • Some good ones:
    • Discussion grader
    • Seneca Who’s online?
    • Advanced Group Management
    • MAPQuest
problem solving and strategy
Problem solving and strategy
  • Duplicate the problem
  • Create support webpage with request forms
  • Get complete information, including course ID and location
  • Follow through and resolve all problems
  • Care calls to faculty
  • Statistics will promote and protect your existence
consider this1
Consider This…

Packing Their Chute

Reliability

Communication

Monitor Service & Support

thank you

Thank You!

Larry Lambert - Southwestern College [email protected] Chula Vista, CA

Dave Dean, Ph.D. - Eastern Washington [email protected]

Cheney, WA

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