Six months ago, we introduced the concept of Blackboard 4.0, a reenergized and recommitted education technology leader, developing best-in-class products and services and delivering on customer commitments and expectations.

Towards that end, I have great news to share: an exciting new strategic partnership for Blackboard. We have selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our strategic cloud services provider and have entered into an agreement with IBM to manage our cloud and datacenter computing infrastructure as we move to the AWS Cloud. These partnerships will enable us to focus on what we do best, developing innovative educational products and services, while relying on the world-class hosting and operational capabilities of AWS and IBM.

We spent considerable time selecting these partners, and we’re confident that we’ve made great choices. AWS is a leader in cloud services, with one of the largest cloud infrastructure footprints, a well-developed technology ecosystem, and tremendous momentum around their pace of innovation. And IBM is one of the top infrastructure management organizations in the world.

Equally important, both companies share our values, are passionate about education, and are dedicated to delivering extraordinary customer experiences. This includes providing always-on systems, backing them up with great support, and being obsessive about maintaining the privacy and security of customer information. Under the agreement, we will only maintain or improve our compliance with appropriate privacy standards.

By focusing our future development on the AWS platform, we will be able to leverage not only AWS’s operational strengths and nearly infinite scale, but also the increasingly formidable breadth of capabilities it provides both natively and via the rapidly growing ecosystem of innovations coming from its partners.

We chose IBM to take on the role of infrastructure management because it brings world-class people, processes, and technology to the partnership. IBM brings deep experience and unique capabilities to bear. One exciting technology that we’ll be leveraging is IBM’s predictive analytics, that foresee potential component failures and give us the opportunity to deal with them in advance, avoiding disruptions. Under the agreement, IBM will provide infrastructure management and operations for all current Blackboard datacenters as we move to the AWS Cloud. Blackboard staff will continue to operate our applications, provide support for our customers, and act as the interface between the customer and the infrastructure teams – just as they do today.

Our relationship with AWS and IBM is integrated. There are no gaps in accountability for delivering reliable services to our clients. And its backed by a comprehensive and robust set of service level commitments to deliver highly available and responsive services for you.

To sum up, we’re tremendously excited about partnering with AWS and IBM, global leaders in infrastructure services and operations, to deliver extraordinary capability to our customers. And we’re excited by what’s on the horizon for Blackboard and our customers as we continue to focus on delivering innovative products that address some of the most pressing challenges in education.

 

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  • Greg Court-Smith

    Hi Nunya,

    You can find out about this in the released FAQs (number 7):

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Why did Blackboard select IBM and AWS as their partners?

    We spent considerable time selecting our partners, and we’re confident in what both IBM and Amazon will deliver for our customers. IBM is one of the world’s top infrastructure management organizations, and is uniquely positioned because of its experience and work in the education space. AWS is the clear leader in cloud services, with the largest global cloud infrastructure footprint, the most well-developed ecosystem, tremendous momentum and rate of innovation. Both companies share our values and dedication to maintaining the privacy of customer data, and both have invested heavily in world-class security programs to keep your data safe in accordance with global standards and regulations.

    2. Will the partnership extend to infrastructure provision and management for Blackboard’s Transact customers?

    No. Transact will continue to operate as today with no changes.

    3. How can I learn more about this partnership between Blackboard and IBM and the benefits to me?

    In order to provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about this partnership and how it will benefit you, we have planned for several sessions at BbWorld, as well as a series of customer webinars. BbWorld is scheduled for July 12-14 and the webinars will be scheduled in July and August.

    4. Will this change in responsibility affect who I call if I have a question or issue?

    No. Your support will continue to be handled by the same Blackboard team that exists today.

    5. Will I see any changes as a result of the partnership?

    Yes. We expect that you will see operational improvements starting in the 3-6 month timeframe. These include improved system availability and accelerated response time to issues.

    6. What does this mean for Security and Privacy?

    This partnership will provide an enhanced privacy and security program and robust technical, organizational, and physical security measures to protect customer data. Further, our agreement with IBM and AWS contains detailed provisions intended to safeguard data in international markets in specific consideration of EU and other international privacy laws and regulations. These provisions include geographic restrictions on the location and transfer of customer data, and encryption standards, to comply with applicable law.

    7. Does this partnership mean that I will need to move out of my existing Learn hosted environment?

    No. Customers who are currently running Learn 9.1 in our managed hosting datacenters will not be required to move. We will continue with our current managed hosting centers.

    8. What about other Blackboard applications besides Learn?

    Many other Blackboard applications are already delivered in a software-as-a-service model using Blackboard-managed datacenters. Over the coming years, IBM and Blackboard will work together to move these applications from Blackboard datacenters to AWS. Any migration plan will be developed in full consideration of giving customers an uninterrupted service and user experience.

    9. What if I have more questions about this partnership?

    There are three ways you can get answers to your questions:
    – Attend one of the multiple sessions planned for BbWorld.
    – Attend one of the online webinars which will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
    – Contact your Account Executive or Customer Success Advocate.

  • Greg Court-Smith

    Hi Nunya,

    You can find out about this in the released FAQs (number 7):

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Why did Blackboard select IBM and AWS as their partners?

    We spent considerable time selecting our partners, and we’re confident in what both IBM and Amazon will deliver for our customers. IBM is one of the world’s top infrastructure management organizations, and is uniquely positioned because of its experience and work in the education space. AWS is the clear leader in cloud services, with the largest global cloud infrastructure footprint, the most well-developed ecosystem, tremendous momentum and rate of innovation. Both companies share our values and dedication to maintaining the privacy of customer data, and both have invested heavily in world-class security programs to keep your data safe in accordance with global standards and regulations.

    2. Will the partnership extend to infrastructure provision and management for Blackboard’s Transact customers?

    No. Transact will continue to operate as today with no changes.

    3. How can I learn more about this partnership between Blackboard and IBM and the benefits to me?

    In order to provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about this partnership and how it will benefit you, we have planned for several sessions at BbWorld, as well as a series of customer webinars. BbWorld is scheduled for July 12-14 and the webinars will be scheduled in July and August.

    4. Will this change in responsibility affect who I call if I have a question or issue?

    No. Your support will continue to be handled by the same Blackboard team that exists today.

    5. Will I see any changes as a result of the partnership?

    Yes. We expect that you will see operational improvements starting in the 3-6 month timeframe. These include improved system availability and accelerated response time to issues.

    6. What does this mean for Security and Privacy?

    This partnership will provide an enhanced privacy and security program and robust technical, organizational, and physical security measures to protect customer data. Further, our agreement with IBM and AWS contains detailed provisions intended to safeguard data in international markets in specific consideration of EU and other international privacy laws and regulations. These provisions include geographic restrictions on the location and transfer of customer data, and encryption standards, to comply with applicable law.

    7. Does this partnership mean that I will need to move out of my existing Learn hosted environment?

    No. Customers who are currently running Learn 9.1 in our managed hosting datacenters will not be required to move. We will continue with our current managed hosting centers.

    8. What about other Blackboard applications besides Learn?

    Many other Blackboard applications are already delivered in a software-as-a-service model using Blackboard-managed datacenters. Over the coming years, IBM and Blackboard will work together to move these applications from Blackboard datacenters to AWS. Any migration plan will be developed in full consideration of giving customers an uninterrupted service and user experience.

    9. What if I have more questions about this partnership?

    There are three ways you can get answers to your questions:
    – Attend one of the multiple sessions planned for BbWorld.
    – Attend one of the online webinars which will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
    – Contact your Account Executive or Customer Success Advocate.