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DoIT Update on Recent Webmail, Blackboard Issues

Load Balancer "Root Cause" to be Reviewed This Semester

January 24, 2014 3:14 PM
To the UMBC Campus Community,

Over the past 7-10 days, DoIT has been troubleshooting technical issues with the Cyrus campus Webmail system and Blackboard. Initially, we saw these as separate issues, but have now determined the root cause to be a new network device, called a load balancer, that distributes demand among multiple servers that collectively make up these highly used systems. One complication was that while the issue with WebMail was widespread across those using it, the issue with Blackboard was mostly present when doing the more complex functions, normally done by administrators and instructors. As such, we missed the connection that the problem in Blackboard was related to the load balancer.

At approximately 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, we decided to test the possibility that the issues in Blackboard might also be related to the load balancer and replaced the new load balancer with the former one it was replacing. To our knowledge, most of the issues (particularly exporting/importing courses in Bb and creating/importing assessments) appear to be resolved. If you believe this is not the case, please submit an RT (Request Tracker) ticket via the myUMBC help menu or directly at

Next Steps

DoIT needs to move to a new load balancer. The vendor no longer supports the original one and campus demand for technology systems has grown steadily. However, DoIT is working closely with the vendor to review these recent issues and will develop a plan for moving forward, but we won’t do anything until the semester has stabilized. For now, our focus is to make certain that highly used systems, such as Blackboard, are running properly for the start of Spring semester this Monday, January 27. Going forward, we will update the Campus IT Steering Committee and Faculty Computer Policy Committee on our findings and plans.

On behalf of my DoIT colleagues, I want to thank students, faculty and staff for their diligence in reporting issues and their patience while we worked to address them. We know these disruptions were inconvenient, and will work hard to improve our environment going forward.


John Fritz
Asst. VP, Instructional Technology
UMBC Division of Information Technology
Tags: blackboard
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