The University of Toronto wanted a faster Blackboard Learn environment and needed to squeeze the most out of its hardware. Apache 1.3 that Blackboard bundles with its BB Learn was not up to the job. By upgrading to Apache 2.2, a new world of options become available. Now, Shibboleth 2 as a Single Sign-on, LDAP as a native authentication scheme for Mobile Learn and OpenSSL PKCS#11 Cryptographic support are all realities for Blackboard.
The PKCS#11 support was particularly important, as is leverages the Solaris Cryptographic Framework (SCF) and transparently offloads cryptographic operations to available hardware providers included in the new Oracle T4 chip. UofT migrated all of its Blackboard VMs to a single Oracle SPARC T4-4 after upgrading to BB9.1SP8. The results were remarkable. A single box, 5 rack-U in height, delivers Blackboard to 80k users. Response times are down by 60% and we have no need for SSL-offload at the load-balancer.