You’ve likely heard that there are going to be some major changes coming to Blackboard next year. The first of these changes is that we are moving from our self hosted instance of Blackboard to a SaaS model. Here, we’ll share what this change means, how it will impact you, and what you can expect when we do the migration.
What Do Self-hosted and SaaS Mean?
First, let’s lay out the terms being used here. Self-hosted means that you operate the software (in this case Blackboard) from your own servers. If there’s an issue, it’s up to you to solve it. You have to provide the storage and setup for the program to work.
SaaS stands for “software as a service”. In a SaaS model, the software is hosted off-site by the company selling you the software. They are responsible for maintaining the software and fixing it when things go wrong. This is similar to how you use programs like Google Docs: you can access it from anywhere via the cloud, you don’t need it to be on your own system to use it, and you get updates automatically.
Why Move from Self-hosted to SaaS?
So what does it mean to move from one to another? One of the advantages of utilizing Blackboard via the SaaS model is that Blackboard can perform maintenance, updates, and fixes more quickly. Even better, they can do so with little or no downtime. All of that means a better, more stable LMS for you to use, with the latest and greatest features available to you ASAP. However, this also sometimes means that there will be updates to Blackboard mid-term–we’ll do our best to prepare you for any changes.
Also worth noting– the SaaS platform makes it easier to scale resources during times of high usage (beginning of the term, finals week, etc). This translates to better performance and less loading time for users, which can be critical for students taking tests or instructors attempting to get a course up and running.
And finally, by the end of 2023, Blackboard will no longer be supporting self-hosting. Moving in the next few months helps us keep up with (and even ahead of) the changing LMS landscape.
How Does the Move Work?
Moving to SaaS deployment consists of two phases. The first phase is to prepare by planning for the transition. This includes identifying the best migration window and data migration approach, defining a migration plan, and testing and verifying any integrations in Blackboard.
The second phase is to move to production by executing the data migration. This includes data preparation, a test migration and integration setup confirmation, and the final migration and cutover.
How Will the Move Impact You?
The migration from self-hosted to SaaS will mean that Blackboard will be unavailable for a few days. The usual time frame is three days. We will let you know well in advance when the system will be down. Additionally, we will do the migration between the terms or over a break so there will be minimal impact to students, staff, and faculty who use Blackboard.
We expect the impact of the migration to be minor. We will let you know about any potential issues as soon as we are aware.
To prepare for this migration, please do your best to reduce the size of your courses–it makes the process a lot faster and easier. If you need help with that, please check out our post on Reducing Your Course Size.
We will be doing training throughout this process, but we are open to answering any of your questions or concerns directly, too. The best way to reach us is through our learning technologies email: firstname.lastname@example.org.