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Beachboard discussions are put on hold

Lucas McMaster, Staff Writer

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As the end of the contract draws near, negotiations between Cal State Long Beach and Beachboard provider Desire2Learn remain on hold until a permanent solution to the provider’s ongoing technological problems is found.

While D2L determines how best to prevent future problems, Director of Instructional Technology Support Service Leslie Kennedy has been involved in meetings with D2L personnel to ensure that quality service is provided.

“Currently, service is faster than it has ever been,” Kennedy said. “But, right now, we are in wait-and-see mode.”

Students and faculty had a rocky start at the beginning of this semester, as a severe increase in latency, or lag time, made accessing Beachboard next to impossible.

The main issue, which D2L has been calling a “system outage,” lasted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, although CSULB also experienced problems from Feb. 4 to 5. Part of D2L’s three-year $366,000 contract states that D2L is supposed to provide 99.9 percent “up-time.”

While the “downtime” from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 was part of a system-wide issue, the problems on Feb. 4 and 5 were apparently limited to CSULB.

Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for D2L Jeff McDowell said D2L was committed to rectifying the situation.

“The goal of our datacenter is that none of our customers should experience any downtime,” McDowell said. “That is our main, main goal. Given that our systems were down and things weren’t working, we had no choice but to do what we needed to do to fix the problem.”

Part of the solution has been to put CSULB on its “own dedicated server farm,” according to Kennedy. Whether that is a permanent move or not remains to be seen.

The problems resulted from a misconfigured “file virtualization layer,” according to McDowell.

“[File virtualization] is a technique which you can employ for upgrades, which is one of those things that we were doing, but we weren’t upgrading at the time,” McDowell said. “We only upgrade like periods of downtime between semesters, during maintenance windows, things like that. The architecture is what failed.”

The failed architecture was being implemented as a part of a larger move to new hardware, which is considered part of standard operating procedures for databases of D2L’s size, according to McDowell.

While D2L has identified the main issue, determining a long-term solution is being discussed between the provider and its vendors.

“Right now they are as close as they can get and are just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s,” McDowell said.

CSULB switched learning management system providers less than three years ago after a series of issues with Blackboard, the university’s previous provider.

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