Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing Hosted Environment Technical Infrastructure and Security

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1 Overview Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing Hosted Environment Technical Infrastructure and Security Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing is available in a hosted environment and this document focuses on the technical infrastructure and security provisions that have been implemented by Blackboard Collaborate (hereafter Blackboard ). Please note, this document refers only to Blackboard Collaborate s web conferencing technical information and does not apply to other Blackboard products or divisions. Hosting Infrastructure Blackboard s hosting infrastructure and data centers are based within industry leading providers of outsourced data center infrastructure designed specifically for organizations with mission-critical IT operations. Our provider offers: Multiple state-of-the-art data centers that provide a highly secure physical infrastructure, including the latest in biometric authentication, video surveillance, and round-the-clock security officers, while permitting unannounced 24/7 customer access. The data centers are engineered to eliminate any single point of failure, with multiple layers of redundancy in power systems, HVAC, and fire detection and suppression. All systems are monitored 24/7 through provider control and monitoring centers. A high-performance network that connects directly to all major Internet backbones, effectively placing customer servers at the core of the Internet. With multiple connections, the network automatically routes Internet traffic outages to ensure servers co-located with our provider always have the fastest response times available. Our provider s sole focus on reliable data center infrastructure allows it to hire, retain, and train highly skilled experts with extensive experience in data center operations, networking, security, Windows and Unix/Linux operating systems, and a wide range of hardware. Knowledgeable specialists are onsite 24/7 to help customers quickly assess and resolve urgent situations. An industry leading service level agreement (SLA) that provides guarantees for power and network availability. Key services are also backed with guarantees for installation times and problem identification and response.

2 System Scalability In its hosted environment, Blackboard provides the appropriate website, web servers and web conferencing servers to support our service. These servers maintain connections, data and information which are transferred and distributed between session participants. A web conferencing server can host multiple classrooms and support massive scalability, allowing support for multi-processor systems to scale thousands of simultaneous users on a single highperformance server. Many of these servers are then deployed as a cluster, allowing horizontal scaling of the system to support increased load capacity. Performance benchmarking using production-grade equipment conducted as part of our software release cycle ensures consistent user experiences.. In 2011, we surpassed a running total of 3 billion minutes served in web conferencing sessions from an estimated 13 million participants from 190 countries using Blackboard Collaborate to learn and collaborate online. As of July 2012, we had surpassed the 4.3 billion minute mark. 5,000,000,000 4,500,000,000 4,000,000,000 3,500,000,000 3,000,000,000 2,500,000,000 2,000,000,000 1,500,000,000 1,000,000, ,000,000 Total Minutes Served - Jan- 03 Jun- 03 Nov- 03 Apr- 04 Sep- 04 Feb- 05 Jul- 05 Dec- 05 May- 06 Oct- 06 Mar- 07 Aug- 07 Jan- 08 Jun- 08 Nov- 08 Apr- 09 Sep- 09 Feb- 10 Jul- 10 Dec- 10 May- 11 Oct- 11 Mar- 12

3 System Security At the infrastructure level, Blackboard s systems are located within facilities at our provider that require access card and biometric identification. Only key Hosting personnel have access to the data center and to our servers, located in locked racks secured by two-factor access controls. Onsite security personnel monitor the facility continuously, and all areas within the facility are under recorded video surveillance at all times. At the server-hardware level, all servers are hardened and protected by firewalls. Blackboard publishes only those interface ports required for operation of the service. Only essential services can be configured and enabled on the servers and those services present a public port only as required to deliver the hosted service. Commonly exploited services, such as FTP, are not available. Firewalls are configured to limit access to only the public services as well as to throttle common denial of service attack attempts. At the application level, access to session service is only provided to users that have identified and authenticated themselves to the Session Administration System (SAS). Key Blackboard personnel have restricted access to customer data and read-only access to selected application logs. For customers, users are only allowed access to data once they provide their credentials by logging into the service website. Client administrators can only be registered by Blackboard personnel and are registered as system users and given access appropriate to their role. Information is logically separated, so sessions, schedules and user information are restricted to members of the client login group. Upon login, session attendees are presented with a schedule of only those sessions they are eligible to attend. Access to the SAS is under SSL encryption, which provides a reliable mechanism for protecting data in transit to our servers. System administration data communications is via encrypted traffic only. Client session recording archives are partitioned by client into distinct storage directories for isolation and improved management. The applications have undergone external and internal audits to ensure secure operation. Blackboard has engaged the services of a third party to conduct a review of its infrastructure and application software and practices. This audit was based on the ISO standard. The audit findings have formed the basis for improvement to processes and practices, technical infrastructure, and application software. Internal audits are conducted regularly. All relevant vendor operating system and middleware software security patches are monitored and applied as applicable as soon as is possible. Software updates are applied to vendor software packages and the operating system modules when the updates are available and as appropriate.

4 System Stability The servers and network system continue to be available at over 99% on a quarterly basis (excluding regularly scheduled maintenance). There are many reasons for the success that Blackboard has obtained with its hosting infrastructure: Blackboard software goes through extensive testing before it is deployed in the hosted environment and made available to its customers. Different testing and production systems allow internal teams to test patches and upgrades thoroughly before updating production systems. This testing is performed on the same operating system platform Blackboard runs in its production environment. This helps reduce the likelihood that errors will be generated in the production environment that may not have been caught during the test phase as a result of different environments. Server hardware load is allocated and monitored to keep systems well under capacity to ensure sufficient resources to accommodate surges in demand without either sacrificing user responsiveness or failing under the unexpected load. Blackboard monitors its servers and services on very tight intervals for critical customer facing services. For example, Blackboard checks each server once every three minutes to verify that it is still accepting connections and launching rooms. Blackboard also looks at many services from different points of view. Staff members are responsive to pages and alerts so they can respond quickly and take corrective action as needed. System Monitoring Blackboard employs several mechanisms to monitor the availability and performance of its servers. All services available to users are monitored on a 24/7 basis with automatic staff pager notification in the event of impaired performance or failure of the service to respond. The service and host monitoring tools provide a summary of availability for management use in capacity and availability planning and service level monitoring. A wide variety of OS and application metrics are monitored, including: OS load, memory, and CPU statistics Available storage capacity Storage I/O performance Network availability Process quantity and type Application availability, including a simulated user login and session launching. In addition to the availability monitoring tools, detailed performance and resource consumption data is collected for analysis and reporting. This data is used primarily to support capacity management and configuration planning.

5 Disaster Recovery Plan Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing hosting disaster recovery plan is based on a multi-layered approach to risk mitigation. The layering is outlined as follows: Hardware redundancy. Blackboard s production hardware systems employ redundant components to ensure that the system remains active and accessible in the case of failure of a single component and to provide for rapid recovery if a component failure affects system availability. This redundancy includes server elements, server systems and networking components and paths. Data asset redundancy/replication Session Recordings. Data assets such as the hosted service user and session data base, as well as the session recording files, are subjected to a periodic snapshot. The snapshots are mirrored to other database and storage systems to facilitate fail-over. The following table shows the current schedule for performing backups of these data assets: What Frequency Retention Media Recording Immediate User deletion is immediate Disk File system Snapshot Daily 30 Days Disk File system Snapshot Daily 30 Days Offsite disk Database. The database repositories for the Blackboard hosted SAS offering are subject to the following backup strategy: 1. A complete backup dump of the production databases is made daily. 2. This backup is immediately replicated to a standby database server and restored at the offsite data recovery site. 3. Production database transaction updates are copied and applied to the standby database server throughout the day on a regular cycle. 4. The daily complete backup dump is copied off-site for disaster recovery and diagnostic purposes. Redundancy and failover for recovery. Blackboard currently provides multiple session servers to host all web conferencing sessions. These servers are under capacity and are monitored with additional session servers added as needed. Blackboard s infrastructure is deployed and configured to support the recovery of services quickly in the event of a major component failure. Currently, our web servers, database server, and session servers have systems in warm standby available to accept the processing load of a production server if required. This failover is activated manually. Network equipment is provisioned and configured to recover automatically from component failure. This reduces recovery time and removes many of the delays associated with manual intervention. At the system level, the current version of the Blackboard s software supports automatic load balance and failover of session servers in a transparent fashion. At the client level, active sessions hosted by a system that fails are restarted. Users are required to launch the session again and reconnect.

6 Blackboard Web Conferencing Hosting Environment Functional Topology Diagram

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