April 18, 2014

The danger of cloud based LMSs

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Davis, B. (2013) Desire2Learn ‘in recovery mode,’ says there has been no data loss to university systems The Record.com, February 1

Bryen, W. (2013) Desire2Learn second system outage ‘very disruptive’ for CU-Boulder faculty, students Daily Camera, University of Colorado, January 31

Many universities in the USA and Canada have been hit by a serious outage of their learning management system, Desire2Learn. It appears that all universities who use Desire2Learn’s cloud computing facility have been affected. Those running D2L on their own servers will not be directly affected.

Virginia Jamieson, D2L’s senior director of corporate communications, stated:

We are experiencing significant challenges in one of our cloud data centers and that is dramatically impacting some students’ online experience. This stems from the file virtualization hardware not interacting well with the storage environment.

Among the universities affected are the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University, from where many of the staff at Desire2Learn have graduated, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Apparently Desire2Learn has been hit by several outages recently.

Why no back-up?

I didn’t expect one of my 2013 predictions to happen so soon – see ’10. Expect the unexpected.’

I obviously have misunderstood cloud computing. I thought the whole point was independent back-up, so if one server goes down, others can pick it up. Please enlighten me.

Comments

  1. At my previous institution we ran the LMS in the cloud (not D2L). A very large institution we used the LMS vendor’s managed hosting services. We paid extra for DR to have the entire system mirrored in a data centre on the other side of the planet to enable us to recover within half a day and continue to work. It was an expensive option and the LMS vendor told us that we were one of only 10 universities worldwide to take up the option (out of 1000s).

    Incidentally you are thinking of availability rather than back up in your last sentence. Normally several servers are available (I think we used to have six) but if the Data Center goes down then all six go down. Having said that, this doesn’t seem to be the case here according to the quote that you give D2L. It seems more like poor testing of the infrastructure prior to deployment.

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