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Sun blackboardwp10 1_07

  2. 2. Sun Microsystems, Inc.Table of ContentsExecutive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3The Sun advantage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4Scope of this white paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5Performance maturity model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6The Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Reference architecture components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Key benefits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11Designed for high service levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11Application tier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12Database tier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13Storage tier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14Management tier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Best-of-breed monitoring and management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15Validated configurations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Small campus configuration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Medium campus configuration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Large campus configuration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20The Sun advantage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20For more information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
  3. 3. 3 Executive Summary Sun Microsystems, Inc.Chapter 1Executive SummaryRecent technology advances have brought a new generation of Web services and col-laborative communities that are changing the way that people work, live, learn, andcreate. Sun refers to this new era as the “Participation Age”—an age where partici-pants aren’t just acquiring information from the Web, but are also contributing to theinformation, refining it, and sharing it.The Participation Age has indeed changed the shape of education. Todays studentshave the ability to access educational resources and content from anywhere, with ahigh degree of sharing, collaboration and participation. Student participation in onlinecourses and communities is rising due to a number of factors:• Globalization The Web has enabled people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to participate in each others learning, enriching the experience for both students and teachers.• Growing population of learners The overall population of learners is rising as children of the Baby Boomer genera- tion are now reaching college age or are already in the workforce where they need continuing education. In addition, online learning enables participation by students in remote locations around the world who might otherwise not enroll in courses. These growth factors are pushing the limits of the current worldwide infrastructure for onsite classroom learning and are forcing institutions to consider alternative ways to serve the growing student population.• Digital natives A term coined by Marc Prensky of the University of North Carolina, digital natives refers to a new generation that has grown up with digital technology, and uses it in ways that previous generations do not. Digital natives tend to do many things at the same time and can function well with multiple simultaneous modes of interaction. They expect to have digital content and want their online learning experience to be multimedia, self-directed, and entertaining.The net result of these trends is that eLearning is no longer an experimental oroptional program. Indeed, eLearning has become a mission-critical application inmany institutions, often second only to email in terms of the level of user activity andIT system resources required. Its mission-critical nature has created some new require-ments from an IT perspective. Today’s enterprise eLearning initiatives are deployedusing sophisticated Course Management System (CMS’s) with requirements such as:• High availability• Consistent and rapid user response times• Conservation of data center floor space, power and cooling• Scalability to support rapid growth• Easy provisioning and management of resources
  4. 4. 4 Executive Summary Sun Microsystems, Inc.To meet these requirements, an eLearning solution must be based on a scalable hard-ware and software architecture that can be easily optimized to deliver high perform-ance while improving the utilization of IT resources and reducing power, cooling andfloor space requirements.Sun and Blackboard have defined a reference architecture that can help customersreduce the time, cost, and complexity of deploying and optimizing their eLearningsolutions. The architecture utilizes proven components that offer maximum perform-ance and scalability, making it much easier for customers to achieve consistently highservice levels when deploying Blackboard Academic Suite™ software. Sun Fire™ serverswith CoolThreads™ technology provide the foundation for the scalable architecture andare deployed in a horizontally scaled application tier that offers extremely highthroughput. Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers have been shown to deliver outstandingprice/performance for Blackboard Academic Suite software and are the industry’s mostefficient platform in terms of power and cooling requirements.Sun and Blackboard have also validated the performance of specific configurations ofthe architecture for small, medium and large campus environments. The validatedconfigurations can help customers reduce risk and save valuable time in designing anddeploying an eLearning solution.The Sun advantageThe Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture takes advantage of Sun technologiesthat can help customers more easily optimize their IT infrastructure and reduce risk.Institutions can gain the following benefits by deploying Blackboard on Sun systemsand utilizing the network computing expertise of Sun Services consultants:• Reduced risk through proven reliability and scalability as well as unbeatable performance• Lower TCO due to outstanding price/performance and dramatic savings in space, power and cooling• Investment protection with an IT infrastructure that can easily scale to support future needs and systems that are based on open standards with support for multiple operating systems and a choice of multiple CPU architecturesScope of this white paperThis white paper provides an overview of the Blackboard on Sun Reference Architectureand its benefits as well as pointers to help institutions make wise choices to optimizetheir eLearning environment.
  5. 5. 5 Introduction Sun Microsystems, Inc.Chapter 2IntroductionRapidly growing demand for eLearning applications has created the need for a robustand scalable enterprise eLearning infrastructure. The success of an eLearning initiativeis thus dependent on achieving predictable high performance and reliability for theCourse Management System (CMS) software and the servers and storage systems onwhich it operates. Yet many educational institutions are operating with CMSs that areneither architected for scalability and performance, nor managed with the kinds ofenterprise datacenter disciplines that have proven successful with other mission-criticalapplications.With limited IT budget and staff resources, most institutions cannot afford to overprovi-sion hardware resources or assign a big IT staff to support their eLearning environ-ment. Instead, they must find ways to squeeze more out or their eLearninginvestments to deliver high services levels. IT teams that manage the eLearning envi-ronment are often stretched thin and end up reacting to performance issues in “fire-fighting” mode rather than taking proactive measures to stem problems before theyaffect users. Furthermore, as eLearning solutions have grown larger and require morehardware, they are subject to new constraints that affect today’s datacenter facilities.Thus it has become important for eLearning implementations to minimize the needfor power, cooling and datacenter floor space.In summary, institutions must achieve the following objectives for their eLearninginitiatives:• High service levels—Systems must operate 24X7 with little downtime, planned or unplanned and must be able handle spikes in user demand without degrading response time• Low TCO—Systems must be cost-effective to own and manage when considering everything from hardware and software license costs to the system’s impact on datacenter power and cooling costs• Scalability—With a growing population of students and an ever-growing demand for online delivery, the eLearning infrastructure must be easy to scale in support of higher levels of throughput, more users and more online courses• Easy to manage—With limited IT staff to assign to the project, it must be easy to deploy and manage the solution so that service levels can be met without an exten- sive IT staffAchieving these objectives requires that institutions optimize their application andoperational environment for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The first step inthis process is seeing the possibility for greater efficiency and identifying a roadmapto get there. To that end, Blackboard has defined a performance maturity model thatincludes five levels of development.
  6. 6. 6 Introduction Sun Microsystems, Inc.Performance maturity modelPerformance maturity for Blackboard installations is dependent on how the organiza-tion manages the following:• Hardware servers, storage and network components• Blackboard application environment• Technical and IT operations processes• Business processes• User experienceFigure 1 highlights five levels of performance maturity that can be achieved byBlackboard customers. As an organization progresses from one level to the next, userservice levels continue to increase and the time and cost required to achieve thoseservice levels continues to decline. Blackboard Performance Maturity ModelFigure 1. Performance maturity model levelsThe levels of the performance maturity model can be defined as follows:• Level 1—Reactive and Exploratory Organizations at this first level are reactive in their approach to service level man- agement and tend to focus on component availability rather than availability or performance of the application services. These organizations often have very few processes in place. They are likely to have a backup and recovery policy, but most likely do not have dedicated personnel for the Blackboard solution, nor processes and tools for its management. Availability of infrastructure system components is generally monitored in a somewhat manual fashion. Little or no action is taken unless an inci- dent is reported by a user or a component failure is detected by the IT team.
  7. 7. 7 Introduction Sun Microsystems, Inc.• Level 2—Monitoring and Management Institutions at the monitoring and instrumentation level take a more proactive approach to maintaining service levels by optimizing the application environment. These organizations tend to have secure connections and distributed configurations that involve load-balancing and advanced storage solutions. They generally have processes in place for backup and recovery as well as operational plans for maintain- ing system and application optimization. At least one dedicated person on the IT staff is focused on the Blackboard solution and is responsible for its success. It is likely that they have one or more tools to manage the application environment. When incidents occur, they are often related to software configuration or mainte- nance. Performance issues and other problems that affect users are usually man- aged by a swat team to achieve a quick resolution. Rarely, however, are measures put into place to prevent the issue from occurring again.• Level 3—Performance Optimizing Performance optimizing clients spend their time enhancing technical processes. Problems occur, but are generally handled by dedicated staff who resolve the issue and try to put preventative processes in place so that problems do not recur. This group of Blackboard customers is focused on making the application environment faster and more scalable. They have processes for everything. They utilize forensic- oriented monitoring and analysis tools to understand characteristics of the applica- tion environment. Operational management tools are also used to simplify administration and management. Performance issues rarely arise due to the proac- tive, preventative management of the environment. When they do occur, there is a practical methodology for identifying the root cause.• Level 4—Business Optimizing At the business optimizing level, the success of the Blackboard installation is meas- ured in terms of business outcomes for the institution. Organizations at this level spend their time enhancing business processes. New initiatives are lead by business teams versus IT teams. If the institution anticipates a change in adoption, the tech- nology team performs due diligence to support the initiative. Processes are in place, as well as an arsenal of tools for managing the application ecosystem. Monitoring dashboards may show the status of business level processes as opposed to availability of system level components. System models may be used to predict the scalability, capacity, and response times for proposed changes or new systems. The IT team is generally more aware of potential issues due to greater alignment with the business needs of the institution. Optimization of the application environment is integrated with business planning so that future business needs are taken into consideration as capacity or functional requirements. As in the previous level, performance issues rarely arise and if they do, care is taken to prevent a recurrence.
  8. 8. 8 Introduction Sun Microsystems, Inc.• Level 5—Process Optimizing At the process optimizing level, organizations are focused on how people are impacted by the Blackboard system. This level incorporates all of the activities of all the previous levels and also adds performance optimization across all phases of the IT project lifecycle from concept to production and maintenance. Initiatives are based on delivering the best user experience to all users because the application is a competitive differentiator for the institution.Educational institutions have traditionally been very decentralized in their IT imple-mentations and thus have not placed significant emphasis on optimizing datacenterapplications and procedures. It should come as no surprise then that most Blackboardcustomers are at level one of the performance maturity model and less than 30 per-cent qualify for level two. Institutions that qualify for level three comprise less than tenpercent of the total Blackboard customer base and very few are at level four or five1.The key factors that keep institutions from advancing to higher levels include:• Cost—Most institutions have not invested in the monitoring and performance man- agement tools that are required to be more proactive about monitoring and analyz- ing performance trends and optimizing the application infrastructure to proactively improve service levels and business-level outcomes.• Skill sets—IT staff are often in short supply in educational institutions and it can be difficult to hire or keep IT staff that have significant expertise in performance management.• Level of effort—Moving out of a reactive management mode and into a more mature level can require an increased level of effort. Even though the advanced levels of performance maturity offer greater efficiency and ultimately require less effort, getting over the hurdle to get there can be a big challenge without outside help.The Blackboard on Sun Reference ArchitectureThe Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture is designed to help institutions movemore easily to levels two and three of the performance maturity model. It providesa vision for enterprise performance optimization and can be used as a blueprint forsuccessfully optimizing the deployment and management of Blackboard software.The reference architecture also includes specific recommendations for hardware andsoftware components that can help improve operational performance and efficiency.1. Estimates based on observations of Blackboard install base.
  9. 9. 9 Introduction Sun Microsystems, Inc.Reference architecture componentsThe Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture consists of the following key components:• Blackboard Academic Suite software—The Blackboard Academic Suite includes Blackboard’s flagship Course Management System (CMS), the Blackboard Learning System™ as well as four other core applications, the Blackboard Community System™, the Blackboard Portfolio System™, the Blackboard Content System™ and the Blackboard Outcomes System™.• Sun Fire servers with CoolThreads technology—Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers with CoolThreads technology deliver breakthrough performance with dramatic space and power efficiency. Powered by the UltraSPARC® T1 processor, they support up to 32 active threads for massive improvements in application scalability and processor utilization. They are an ideal scalable platform for Web, application and database server environments.• Sun SPARC® Enterprise M5000 server—The Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 server delivers leading reliability, flexibility, and binary compatibility in a value-priced rackmount server with up to eight dual-core SPARC64 VI processors. Designed to provide enterprise-class service levels for medium to large databases, the server also offers hardware partitioning using Dynamic Domains. (This server is for large campus configurations only.)• Sun Fire X4500 server—The Sun Fire X4500 Server is an ideal platform for high per- formance I/O throughput applications such as streaming video or multimedia play- back. It combines a high-performance, four-way x64 server with up to 24 TB of storage in a single integrated system, creating a new class of data server. (This server is an optional component and generally useful in larger installations.)• Solaris™ 10 Operating System—One of the most advanced operating systems avail- able, the Solaris 10 OS is the latest version of Sun’s industry-leading operating system. Interoperable with Linux and Windows, the Solaris OS also offers binary compatibility within each Sun server line, whether based on UltraSPARC®, AMD Opteron, or Intel Xeon processors. As a result, all Sun servers running the Solaris 10 OS provide powerful features that can help reduce cost, complexity, and risk.• Oracle database—Oracle Database 10g Standard Edition is a full-featured data man- agement solution ideally suited to the needs of medium-sized workloads such as Blackboard Academic Suite. It also includes the optional Oracle Real Application Clusters for enterprise-class availability in a cluster environment.• Quest Software—Quest Software’s broad array of software solutions for application and database management are integrated with the Solaris 10 OS to provide com- plete control and visibility of the IT stack for ease of management and the highest possible application quality.• Citrix Netscalar appliances—Citrix NetScaler Web application delivery solutions are purpose built appliances that accelerate application performance through advanced traffic management while delivering comprehensive web application security.
  10. 10. 10 Introduction Sun Microsystems, Inc.• Brocade SAN switches—The Brocade 200E Switch provides industry-leading perform- ance and value in an 8-port or 16-port SAN switch that helps make SAN environ- ments easy to deploy and manage.Key benefitsThe reference architecture combines the above mentioned system components withthe operational processes described in the Blackboard performance maturity modelto deliver the following major benefits to educational institutions:• Higher service levels—The architecture is designed to optimize service levels and provide a path to more mature operation of the datacenter.• Reduced costs—Virtualization technologies enable consolidated solutions with higher resource utilization and reduced complexity. Proper configuration and sizing based on validated configurations also helps customers avoid overprovisioning. Best practices for management can also reduce the cost of maintaining the solution environment.• Faster time to delivery—The reference architecture saves institutions the time required for research or trial and error discovery of what works best for building and managing an optimized environment for course management.• Reduced risk—Validated hardware configurations and software partners can be combined with best practices for operational performance to greatly reduce the risk of unforeseen problems in a production implementation of Blackboard Academic Suite.• Simplified Management—Tools and best practices for maintaining high service levels can save time and simplify the management process.
  11. 11. 11 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.Chapter 3Blackboard on Sun Reference ArchitectureThe Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture is an implementation of Blackboard’svision for optimizing performance of Blackboard Academic Suite software. It takesadvantage of Sun and third-party technologies that can improve service levels whilereducing cost. It is also designed to support both small and large scale implementa-tions with the flexibility for institutions to start with a small, cost-effective implemen-tation and then easily scale to a large enterprise installation as demand grows.Figure 2 shows a logical representation of the architecture with mandatory andoptional components defined across the application, database, storage and manage-ment tiers. Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture* The Sun Fire T2000 server is replaced by the Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 server in large campus configurations.Figure 2. The reference architecture utilizes components that can improve servicelevels while reducing costs.Designed for high service levelsThe architecture is designed to support high service levels through the use of highquality products from top-tier vendors and utilizes built-in redundancy on multiplelevels. The horizontally scaled architecture uses load balancing across redundantservers in the application tier and each application server can run multiple instances
  12. 12. 12 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.of the Blackboard Academic Suite software. The database server supports an optionalclustered environment utilizing the Oracle RAC database software and Sun clustersoftware. Redundancy is also built into the storage environment with redundantconnections through a storage area network (SAN) and RAID support within thedisk subsystems.Customers can decide the level of availability required for their environment andthen choose the configuration options that best suit their availability needs.Application tierThe application tier contains the Blackboard Academic Suite software running on oneor more Sun Fire T1000 servers in a horizontally distributed architecture. When multi-ple Sun Fire T1000 servers are deployed, the architecture utilizes load balancing todistribute the user workload evenly across the servers.A Sun Fire T1000 server with 6 cores and 8 GB of memory is the recommended serverfor the application tier. It is an ideal platform for the application tier do to its low TCO,energy efficiency, and high throughput for applications such as Blackboard AcademicSuite which are based on Java™ technology. Each Sun Fire T1000 server should bedeployed with four instances of Blackboard Academic Suite software to take maximumadvantage of the massive scalability of the 24 threads available on this configurationof the Sun Fire T1000 server. By fully utilizing the server with multiple applicationserver instances, customers can achieve higher throughput and the best possibleprice/performance. The Sun Fire T1000 server combines operational savings due toits low power and cooling requirements with a low purchase price that is competitivewith comparably configured PC servers. It offers the highest available throughput ofany application server that has been tested with Blackboard Academic Suite software.There are several ways to use virtualization technologies to deploy multiple instancesof Blackboard Academic Suite on the Sun Fire T1000 server. The simplest approach is touse TomCat clustering, a feature of the Apache Web server. TomCat clustering enablesa single instance of the Web server to control traffic for multiple instances of theBlackboard application. With this approach, all instances are running in the same copyof the Solaris OS and share the same CPU and memory resources with no securityisolation. The benefit of TomCat clustering is that it is relatively simple to implement.A second approach is to virtualization is to deploy a Web server instance for eachinstance of the Blackboard application using virtualization technologies such as SolarisContainers or Logical Domains (LDoms) to provide security and resource isolationbetween the pairs of Web and application servers. In this situation, each Web serverinstance has its own logical connection to the load balancing appliance which man-ages the traffic across all Web server instances in all servers. Using Solaris Containersor LDoms gives customers more control over resource allocation for application serverand Web server instances and also provides a higher degree of security and availability
  13. 13. 13 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, compared to the TomCat clustering approach. Readers interested in learning moreabout these free virtualization technologies from Sun can find valuable informationat and for the application tier is managed via a centralized storage pool that providesan NFS mount for all application servers in the application tier. The Blackboard applica-tion stores large artifacts at the application tier including multimedia course deliverymaterials, student reports and assignments, and any other content that is submittedfor sharing between students and teachers. Application tier storage can thus be sub-stantial. (See storage tier section below for more details.)For institutions that have a requirement for a significant volume of multimedia storageand playback, the optional Sun Fire X4500 server can be deployed as a digital mediaserver in the application tier. With up to 24 TB of storage in a 4-way AMD Opteronserver, the Sun Fire X4500 server is an ideal platform for the high capacity and demand-ing I/O throughput requirements of streaming video. This powerful digital mediaserver can be NFS mounted for transparent access and high performance digital mediastorage and delivery by any application server in the configuration.Database tierThe database tier contains an Oracle database which is used to maintain user recordsand indexes to application specific data such as course offerings, student profiles, testresults, etc. The database server requires vertical scalability because there is a singlelarge database instance used by all application tier servers. For the BlackboardAcademic Suite application, the most important performance criterion in the databasetier is I/O throughput from the storage subsystem (see storage tier for more details).A Sun Fire T2000 server with 8 cores and 16 GB of memory is the recommended data-base server for small and medium campus configurations. With record setting data-base price/performance, low TCO, and high energy efficiency, the Sun Fire T2000 serveris ideal for medium size database workloads. The Sun Fire T2000 Server running IBMDB2 database delivered an industry-leading 1781.37 SPECjAppServer2004 JOPS whentested under the SPECjAppServer2004 benchmark2. This represents the highest per-formance of any single processor database server, along with the best performanceper watt and leading database price/performance in its class.For large campus configurations, the rackmountable Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000server is recommended to provide the throughput necessary to handle the load ofup to six fully configured Sun Fire T1000 servers in the application tier. The Sun SPARCEnterprise M5000 server configuration contains eight dual-core SPARC64 VI processorsand 32 GB of memory. Institutions that prefer a deskside server over a rackmount config-uration can choose a similarly configured Sun Fire V890 server as the database server.2. A single Sun Fire T2000 Server configured with just a single, 8 Core UltraSPARC T1 processor and 32GB of memoryrunning IBM DB2 V8.2 was able to support a Sun Fire E2900 Server in delivering 1,781.37 JOPS for theSPECjAppServer2004 Benchmark in the Standard category. The Sun Fire T2000 Server consumed only 321 watts ofpower at peak and required just two database licenses, resulting in a database Price / Performance of $46.03 per JOP.More details are available at
  14. 14. 14 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.High availability in the database tier is supported through an optional cluster configu-ration with a fully redundant database server. Customers can use Sun Cluster softwareand Oracle RAC to provide database redundancy and can also configure the databaseserver to support automatic failover in the event of a critical fault.Storage tierThe reference architecture recommends a consolidated storage environment thatenables an administrator to manage both application tier storage and database tierstorage in a single physical system. This approach greatly simplifies the task of creatingbackups by allowing both tiers to be backed up with a single operation. It also providesa cost-effective consolidated solution with a single Sun StorageTek™ 6140 array to servethe needs of both tiers.The storage architecture utilizes a storage area network (SAN) with dual connectionsfor all servers and storage devices. Application servers use a Network Attached Storage(NAS) gateway to access specific disk volumes in the StorageTek 6140 array that areconfigured for NFS mount by application tier servers. The database server then uses itsSAN connection to access specific drives that are configured as database volumes.The StorageTek 6140 array is populated with two different types of disk drives to servethe differing requirements of the application tier and the database tier. Blackboarduses an average storage requirement of 1 TB per 5000 users when estimating the stor-age requirements for the application tier, a capacity that is 5 to 10 times the requiredcapacity for database storage.While storage capacity requirements for the application tier are significant, accessspeed is less important. User requests to retrieve large files from the application tierstorage are generally not frequent enough to become a performance bottleneck withthe distributed architecture. In fact, as the files age, they tend to be accessed muchless frequently, providing an opportunity for cost savings using hierarchical storageif desired. To address the need for cost-effective high capacity storage, Sun andBlackboard have recommended 500 GB SATA drives for the application tier. Thesedrives are then configured as application tier volumes in the StorageTek 6140 arrayand are accessible via NFS mount through the Sun Storage 5320G NAS gateway.The number of drives required for the application tier can be computed based onthe total user population and the average capacity of 1 TB per 5000 users.The database tier requires high performance disk drives and a large number of spindlesin order to handle the high volume of I/O read requests from the Oracle database.Database storage is therefore configured with 146 GB fibre channel disk drives that spinat 15,000 RPMs, enabling faster data transfer rates and shorter seek times.
  15. 15. 15 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.Management tierThe reference architecture is based on open systems solutions with standard interfacesthat make it easier to provision and manage the IT infrastructure. Third party enter-prise management solutions can interact with server and storage components usingsimple network management protocol (SNMP) to manage the components withina broader management framework. Administrators can also take advantage of Sunmanagement tools such as the following to manage the IT infrastructure:• Sun N1™ System Manager—N1 System Manager provides comprehensive system lifecycle management for Sun servers. It simplifies the discovery, provisioning, moni- toring, and management of local and remote servers from a single web console.• Sun N1 Service Provisioning System—N1 Service Provisioning System simplifies application provisioning across heterogeneous platforms. It automates the process of building, deploying, and provisioning the entire application infrastructure on bare metal systems.• Sun™ Management Center software—Sun Management Center software provides in-depth monitoring and management capabilities for the entire line of Sun servers. Customers can utilize in-depth diagnostic information as well as analysis and report- ing to improve system performance and availability. Sun Management Center soft- ware also provides support for advanced Solaris 10 features, including Solaris Containers and the Solaris Dynamic Tracing (DTrace) facility.• Sun Connection—Sun Connection simplifies the process of tracking, provisioning, SM updating and managing Solaris and Linux operating system configurations. OS updates can be delivered and automatically provisioned to registered servers at the customer location and administrators can elect to update entire groups of servers based on user-defined rules.Best-of-breed monitoring and managementSun and Blackboard have partnered with Quest Software, an industry leader in moni-toring and management software. Quest Software provides sophisticated tools forapplication and database management that can help institutions maintain maximumperformance and availability of the Blackboard and Sun environment. Using Questsolutions such as Foglight and Spotlight, IT teams can accelerate the detection,diagnosis and resolution of database and application issues. Quest’s Toad databasedevelopment tool also makes database and application development faster andeasier while simplifying day-to-day database administration tasks.Quest’s solutions are also integrated with the Solaris OS 10 and its DTrace facility,enabling complete visibility across application layers as well as the OS and serverlayer. This integrated management environment provides a unique holistic view intoperformance issues and their impact as well as unprecedented control of applicationand database development.
  16. 16. 16 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.Validated configurationsSun and Blackboard have invested in performance testing and characterization ofBlackboard software on Sun servers and storage systems to help institutions properlyconfigure and size their systems and to reduce the risk of unforeseen problems. Theresults of these tests were used to define specific configurations that have been vali-dated to offer peak performance throughput that matches the expected throughputneeds for small, medium and large campus scenarios.Additional information about the performance characteristics of the validated configu-rations described in the table and figures below can be found in the Blackboard on SunSizing Guide (available from Sun and Blackboard sales representatives).Table 1. Configuration information for small, medium and large campus configurationsDescription Small Campus Medium Campus Large Campus Configuration Configuration Configuration User 1,000 to 10,000 10,000 to 25,000 25,000 to 50,000 Community Size Sizing • 500 to 1,000 • 1,000 to 5,000 • 5,000 to 25,000 Assumptions active courses active courses active courses • Up to 1,200 con- • Up to 2,400 con- • Up to 3,600 concur- current users with current users with rent users with six two application four application application servers servers servers Application 1 to 2 Sun Fire 2 to 4 Sun Fire 4 to 6 Sun Fire T1000 Tier T1000 servers T1000 servers servers • 6 core UltraSPARC • 6 core UltraSPARC • 6 core UltraSPARC T1 T1 processor T1 processor processor • 8 GB memory • 8 GB memory • 8 GB memory Database Sun Fire T2000 server Sun Fire T2000 server Sun SPARC Enterprise Tier • 8 core UltraSPARC • 8 core UltraSPARC M5000 server T1 processor T1 processor • 8 dual-core SPARC64 • 16 GB memory • 16 GB memory VI processors • Optional 2nd serv- • 32 GB memory er for cluster con- • Optional 2nd server for figuration cluster configuration Storage Tier • Sun StorageTek • Sun StorageTek • Sun StorageTek 6140 6140 array with 1 6140 array with 2 array with 3 trays tray trays • Sun StorageTek • Sun StorageTek • Sun StorageTek 5320G NAS gateway 5320G NAS gate- 5320G NAS gate- • SAN infrastructure way way • 26 X 500 GB SATA • SAN infrastructure • SAN infrastructure drives, providing 10 • 7 X 500 GB SATA • 13 X 500 GB SATA TB of usable storage drives, providing drives, providing 5 for the application 2.2 TB of usable TB of usable stor- tier storage for the age for the appli- • 16 X 146 GB fibre application tier cation tier channel drives at • 5 X 146 GB fibre • 9 X 146 GB fibre 15,000 RPM, provid- channel drives at channel drives at ing 1 TB of usable 15,000 RPM, pro- 15,000 RPM, pro- storage for the DB viding 250 GB of viding 500 GB of tier usable storage for usable storage for the DB tier the DB tier
  17. 17. 17 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.Small campus configurationFigure 3 shows a logical representation of the small campus configuration thatis designed to support a user community of 1,000 to 10,000 active users.Figure 3. Small Campus Configuration
  18. 18. 18 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.Medium campus configurationFigure 4 shows a logical representation of the medium campus configuration that isdesigned to support a user community of 10,000 to 25,000 active users.Figure 4. Medium Campus Configuration1.velit et anc et tenulla feugaith euismode tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam.
  19. 19. 19 Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture Sun Microsystems, Inc.Large campus configurationFigure 5 shows a logical representation of the large campus configuration that isdesigned to support a user community of 25,000 to 50,000 active users.* Customers who prefer a deskside server can substitute the Sun Fire V890 server for the Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 server.Figure 5. Large Campus Configuration
  20. 20. 20 Summary Sun Microsystems, Inc.Chapter 4SummaryThe Sun advantageWith tight budgets and limited IT staff resources, educational institutions are alwayslooking for ways to improve their IT services without additional capital or resourceinvestments. The Blackboard on Sun Reference Architecture enables institutions toleverage the work of Sun and Blackboard in optimizing and validating Blackboardsoftware on Sun systems. The reference architecture is also designed to take advan-tage of specific Sun technologies that can help institutions do more with less.Specific Sun advantages that can benefit Blackboard customers include:• Proven reliability and scalability Sun systems and the Solaris OS are proven in the datacenters of many of Blackboards largest customers and the configurations described in this white paper have been validated to meet the performance requirements of specific campus sce- narios. Sun systems and the Solaris 10 OS are also known for their high reliability. The enterprise-class RAS features in Sun CoolThreads servers and their cooler operat- ing temperatures help these systems deliver mission-critical reliability that far sur- passes that of similarly priced PC-based servers. This reliability is further enhanced by the predictive self-healing capabilities in the Solaris 10 OS, providing maximum protection for Blackboard customers.• High performance throughput Characterization and performance tests in the Blackboard lab have also shown the Sun Fire T1000 application server to deliver the highest scalability of any volume server tested. Test showed that a single Sun Fire T1000 server could sustain an aver- age throughput of 3 MB/second and deliver good user response time for up to 600 hits/second. The UltraSPARC T1 processor in the Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers is specifically designed for highly threaded or horizontally scaled workloads such as Blackboard Academic Suite. Furthermore, the Solaris 10 OS has been optimized for high throughput on multithreaded architectures and contains the award-winning DTrace technology for optimizing system performance and throughput. The integration of the Solaris 10 DTrace facility with monitoring and management solutions from Quest Software also creates a breakthrough in visibility within the IT stack, making it easier for developers and administrators to quickly tune their application or database envi- ronment for maximum performance.
  21. 21. 21 Summary Sun Microsystems, Inc.• Low TCO and eco-responsibility Sun servers with CoolThreads technology deliver breakthrough performance with dramatic space and power efficiency. These servers, which are the industrys fastest and most space and energy efficient systems, can help institutions save on power and cooling costs while offering a consolidated infrastructure for Blackboard soft- ware. Customers can avoid the cost of virtualization software licenses while consoli- dating onto these powerful servers by using virtualization technologies from Sun (Solaris Containers and LDoms) that are already included in the Sun solution. Additional costs can be saved with reduced need for Oracle database licenses because the Sun Fire T2000 server can require up to 7X fewer database licenses versus competing servers3.• Increased flexibility Sun systems support multiple CPU architectures (SPARC, AMD and Intel) and three OS environments (Solaris OS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows), giving customers the opportunity to easily deploy Sun systems within their existing IT infrastructure. Suns broad line of binary compatible servers offer a cost-effective and flexible growth path. Whether scaling up with high capacity Sun servers or scaling out in a horizontally distributed architecture, Suns flexible solutions make it easy to add capacity when user demand grows.3. In the SPECjAppServer2004 benchmark, the Sun Fire T2000 server required 7x fewer database licenses and 8x lowerdatabase licensing costs than the HP rx8620 Itanium 2 configuration, while consuming 8.5x less data center space andconsuming 13x less power, resulting in nearly 18x higher performance per watt. Based on software licensing costs, theSun Fire T2000 delivered 11x better price / performance.
  22. 22. 22 Summary Sun Microsystems, Inc.For more informationFor additional information on how Sun and Blackboard can help organizations opti-mize their eLearning environment, visit the Web sites below or contact a local Sun orBlackboard representative.Table 2. Web Links for Additional InformationWeb Site URL Sun solutions for education and Blackboard home Blackboard Academic Suite Solaris Operating Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 Sun StorageTek storage Sun N1 System Manager Sun N1 Service Provisioning Sun Management Center Logical Domains (LDoms) Solaris Sun Management solutions from Quest Software
  23. 23. 23 Summary On the Web© 2007 Sun Microsystems, Inc., 4150 Network Circle, Santa Clara, California 95054, U.S.A.All rights reserved.This product or document is protected by copyright and distributed under licenses restricting its use, copying,distribution, and decompilation. No part of this product or document may be reproduced in any form by anymeans without prior written authorization of Sun and its licensors, if any. Third-party software, including fonttechnology, is copyrighted and licensed from Sun suppliers.Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, Java, N1 Sun Fire, CoolThreads, and StorageTek are trademarks orregistered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.All SPARC trademarks are used under license and are trademarks or registered trademarks of SPARCInternational, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. Products bearing SPARC trademarks are based uponarchitecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.AMD Opteron is a trademark of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All other trademarks and registered marks are theproperty of their respective owners. Information subject to change without notice.RESTRICTED RIGHTS: Use, duplication, or disclosure by the U.S. Government is subject to restrictions of FAR52.227-14(g)(2)(6/87) and FAR 52.227-19(6/87), or DFAR 252.227-7015(b)(6/95) and DFAR 227.7202-3(a).DOCUMENTATION IS PROVIDED AS IS AND ALL EXPRESS OR IMPLIED CONDITIONS, REPRESENTATIONS ANDWARRANTIES, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSEOR NON-INFRINGEMENT, ARE DISCLAIMED, EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH DIS-CLAIMERS HELD TO BELEGALLY INVALID.