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Rice Sakai Deployment: Integration, Implementation, and Lessons Learned Angela Rabuck, Dean Lane and Omer Piperdi Rice University.

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Presentation on theme: "Rice Sakai Deployment: Integration, Implementation, and Lessons Learned Angela Rabuck, Dean Lane and Omer Piperdi Rice University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rice Sakai Deployment: Integration, Implementation, and Lessons Learned Angela Rabuck, Dean Lane and Omer Piperdi Rice University

2 Agenda Implementation –Rollout Timetable –Architecture –Getting data from Banner to Sakai –CAS & Kerberos Integration Issues/Assumptions User Data –Usage Stats –Customer Feedback –Survey Results –Training/Support

3 Rice University Undergraduate student–to–faculty ratio of 5:1 Median class size of 15 ~3,000 undergraduates ~2,000 graduate students

4 Why Sakai? WebCT Campus Edition previously used Very low adoption - <10% faculty Max - 75 courses/semester using it Reasons for switch: –Licensing concerns –Blackboard uncertainty –Modifiable code –Project sites –Ability to interact with other instructional tools

5 People Java programmer Full time: Instructional Technologist Oracle DB admin Web Developer System admin Part time:

6 Our Setup All Rice members receive Sakai userid and password Guest accounts –Created by Admin –On-line guest account process available in future Project sites –Faculty and grad students By request Not self serve –Undergrads Can request with faculty sponsor Ex: club site, study group, etc 2 levels of Teaching Assistant and Member roles

7 Assumptions Group multiple sections with same instructor –SPAN 101 001/003 F06 –Multiple sections with no instructor not grouped No accounts removed from Sakai –CAS/kerberos authentication will control Sakai login ability Each course is term bound –CHEM 121 F06 –CHEM 121 F07 –Previous semester’s courses available Reuse old materials in new course site

8 Assumptions continued Default 1 GB file resource limit for every site Hardware or software load balancer –“sticky session” capability Sakai DB Account same as CAS NetID or Kerberos principle All Banner course data will contain either –a valid instructor –dummy instructor NO_INSTRUCTOR No Banner data record will be available once that record is no longer valid Students/etc added by professor unmanaged by scripts

9 Summer ‘05 Fall ‘05 Rollout Timetable Spring ‘06 Summer ‘06 Fall ‘06 Spring ‘07 Pilot Sakai 2.0 4 courses Pilot Sakai 2.0 6 courses Pilot Sakai 2.1 16 courses 30 project sites Production Sakai 2.1.1 30 courses 50 project sites Full Production Sakai 2.1.2 350 courses 130 project sites 3 WebCT courses Full Production Sakai 2.2.2 ? courses ? project sites For comparison: WebCT server - ~75 max courses a semester

10 Architecture VM Servers –Load balancing Netscaler 2 servers currently Add additional VM servers easily Oracle Database NAS –BlueArc Titan –NFS mount

11 Sakai Hardware Architecture

12 Data Load Programs sakai_load_users - creates the main sakai account for each user. Does not assign the user to any sites. sakai_load_courses - creates all of the new course sites in Sakai. This is the process that assigns the Sakai site ID for the course. sakai_load_students - adds/removes the students from each of the courses that they are assigned to.

13 Data Flow

14 Sakai_load_users Creates the main sakai account for each user Does not assign the user to any sites Creates random extremely long passwords, which no one ever knows –Since we use CAS and kerberos, local password hidden from user

15 Sakai_load_courses Create every course for next semester Assigns the Sakai site ID for the course It gathers all related courses based on cross listing or section and instructor Load all defined instructors in course sites Load any dept admins into Dept course sites Add a standard set of basic tools to every course site –Home, Announcements, Syllabus, Schedule, Resources, Discussion, Assignments, Site Info Mark course sites as “unpublished”

16 Sakai_load_students Adds/removes students to/from their course sites Twice daily update of course rosters in Sakai Verifies that student didn’t just change sections before deleting students

17 Web Services Used addMemberToSiteWithRole() addNewRoleToAuthzGroup() allowFunctionForRole() checkForSite() checkForUser() checkForMemberInAuthzGroupWithRole() removeAllRolesFromAuthzGroup() removeMemberFromAuthzGroup() setRoleForAuthzGroupMaintenance() addNewSite() addNewPageToSite() addNewToolToPage() addNewAuthzGroup() addNewUser()

18 CAS and Kerberos LOG-IN using NetID –All Rice members have NetID/password –Single Sign on CAS (Central Authentication Service by JA-SIG) –Passwords already created Non-Rice LOG-IN –Sakai DB Admin, Test and Guest Accounts –Kerberos Necessary for WebDAV authentication

19 Database sakai session expiration via cron job –Expires session if active over 24 hours –Remove session from SAKAI PRESENCE table DB Backups –DB files stored on BlueARC NAS –Backing up files every 4 hours –Shutdown and take cold backup of oracle DB once a week Cron job 3AM Saturday mornings

20 Content Hosting Binary uploads are stored on BlueARC - NAS –Two sakai servers mount to same storage for load balancing Also for Melete and JForum uploads –Necessary for load balancing File storage growth: –350 courses and ~130 project sites 2-4 GB/week

21 Server Outage Notification Nagios monitoring pages sent to personnel if: –Sakai server down –DB down –storage down –Sakai http not responding –SSL Certificate expiration

22 Load Balancing Netscaler –Quickly add/remove servers –Automatic failover –Redirection to outage notification page –Can wean people off of one server for maintenance No service outage

23 Benefits All user accounts automatically created Self serve courses (unpublished) ready for instructor use –Faculty don’t need to contact IT to get course site –Faculty don’t need to create a site –Students added/removed automatically –Instructor can add anyone they wish to their course sites –Basic tool set added to every course Home, Announcements, Syllabus, Schedule, Resources, Discussion, Assignments, Site Info Ability to add departmental admin automatically to all dept courses

24 Unresolved Issues Handling manual creation of sites before Banner feed presents the data Deleting accounts and all data associated with it Removal/archival of old course material

25 Gotchas Email tool issues every upgrade –If you are changing host name after the upgrade Db redo logs when creating courses (oracle) –creation rate of 50MB/min –Lot of CLOBs Takes a long time to create each course over web services –1-2 minutes to create a course site Admin account getting added to all courses slowed down system –Took a long time for the admin account to display the top menu bar that contains all of the course names –May be an issue for departmental coordinators at later date when a few semester’s worth of courses are showing up Banner data started getting courses listed without the cross listing data. Caused a number of courses to be created that needed to be merged/deleted. Need to make sure that all data in Banner is “good” before running scripts! CAS client caches CAS server host IP

26 Number of Accounts & Courses Instructors –1191 Students –6138 Guests –401 Courses created F06 –1709 Courses created Sp07 –1940

27 Usage Stats Fall 2006 Published Courses –350/1700 = 20% courses Max users at one time –425 Max number of unique logins in a day –1848 Max number of total sessions in a day –3854 Total number of unique logins (June 2005 - 11/23/06) –4846

28 Usage Stats

29 Web Trends Stats Avg page views/day –30,458 Most active day of week –Wednesday Least active day of week –Saturday Most active hour of day –3:00pm - 4:00pm Least active hour of day –5:00am - 6:00am

30 Faculty Survey Results 60 faculty responses

31 Faculty Survey Results


33 Student Survey Results 526 student responses

34 Student Survey Results


36 Project Sites Fellowship and awards committee Faculty search committee curriculum review student study groups departmental sites –faculty only –faculty and students student clubs graduate student associations orientation week coordination grants IT groups research groups researchers collaborating on books/articles planning committees student recruiting departmental equipment documentation and usage scheduling scheduling of psych experiment rooms multi dept site with grad student peer review of journal articles

37 Training Sessions Training sessions specific for WebCT users spring ‘06 Training/demo sessions beginning of fall ‘06 semester –1 hour demo here’s what it is and what it can do, with a few basics covered ~50 users –2 Drop in days help available at any time 9am-5pm low turnout –3 hour in-depth training session 10 users Student training/demo session –Only 4 students showed up –No specific questions

38 Training 1-on-1 training sessions available with Instructional Technology Specialist or IT Trainer Professors like one hour demos that show them enough to get started Much lower turnout for longer sessions Prefer to call/email than read FAQ Rice News article about OWL-Space Demos at IT events Offered faculty and grad students project sites during pilot phase Technology Brown bag lunches On-line demo course with training/demo modules and other training materials available online to faculty/TAs

39 Support IT Help Desk –via phone, email or drop-in –8am-8pm M-T, 8am-5pm F; 2pm-5pm Su Instructional Technology Specialist –via phone and email during working hours and beyond Online FAQ –most professors just contact instead of reading

40 User Feedback - The Good –“I really love Owlspace!!” –“This is really cool” –“Let me first send my congratulations to you and the group you represent. I found the owlspace pages extremely easy and quick to use.” –“[OWL-Space] has become a wonderful resource for our students” –“Despite the complaints I like OwlSpace and will continue to use it. It’s certainly a step in the right direction but is a work in progress” –“And OWL-Space provides an excellent vehicle for distributing non-copyright protected material without wasting paper or forcing students to pay for a coursepack.” (Rice Thresher - 9/29/06) - 1 month after full rollout –“I have really enjoyed working in OwlSpace” –“First, let me just say, I think OwlSpace has been a great addition this year, and for the most part, my students are loving it!” –“Owlspace has become a well-integrated tool within our laboratory!” –“Overall we love using OwlSpace and the updates (such as the Message Center) just make things easier and easier to use.”

41 User Feedback - The Bad –“I must admit that I’m really annoyed about the quiz/question feature in OwlSpace. It is wasting a HUGE amount of time, both for me and my TAs.” –“I am about ready to throw OwlSpace to the ether! I cannot manage groups, I want to make a TA group to email and an Instructor group to email and the strangest things keep happening:” –“I’m really disliking OWL-Space. The work-around we talked about on Friday, for the fact that we aren’t allowed to have point values in assignments be greater than the max points, and the fact that there’s no way to add an assignment grade for a student who didn’t submit it on OWL-Space, is problematic.” –“I hate the confusion this is causing, and the extra work I and the TA have to do to make up for the shortcomings of the system.”

42 User Feedback - The Colorful

43 Summary Full production –VM servers Banner course data –Custom scripts Usage Data & Customer Feedback –Overall good, some negative –Stronger usage than expected To be continued...

44 Extra Details Extra Details about our architecture and scripts are attached

45 Contact Information Angela Rabuck – Dean Lane – Omer Piperdi –

46 Hardware Specs SunFire 4100 –2 single core AMD Opteron Processors 2.8 GHz –8 Gigabytes of RAM –Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 –Oracle 10g HP DL385 (Middleware) –2 single core AMD Opteron Processors 2.6 GHz –8 Gigabytes of RAM –Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 –PostgreSQL 8.1 –Java 1.5/Perl 5.8.4 HP DL385 (Sakai) –2 single core AMD Opteron Processors 2.6 GHz –8 Gigabytes of RAM –Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 –VMware GSX Server 3.2

47 Hardware Specs VMware Guest –Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 –3 Gigabytes of RAM –20 Gigabytes of local disk space (containing Operating System + Sakai Installation) –Sakai 2.1.2 –Tomcat 5.5.12 –Java 1.4.2 BlueArc Titan NAS Storage System –used to store the Oracle Databases (via NFS) –used to store external files for Sakai (via NFS) Netscaler 7000 –6.1 Firmware –Sticky Sessions –Automatic load balancing –Automatic failover –Accepts access to ports 80 and 443 (Thawte signed certificate) –All traffic to the Sakai servers is over port 443, using a self signed certificate

48 Sakai Load Users Graphic


50 added - the record is newly added to the Banner view, add entry to Sakai modified - the record has changed since the last time it was seen, change entry in Sakai seen - the record was seen in the Banner view but unchanged frozen - the record has not been present in the Banner view in the last day locked - the record has been frozen for over 4 days, prepare for removal deleted - the entry in Sakai has been removed

51 Load Users

52 Copy Table Flow

53 Sakai Load Courses



56 Banner Sources

57 Columns added to view

58 Sakai Load Students




62 CAS


64 Database Script begin -- update sakai_session set session_end = current_timestamp where session_start = session_end and (current_timestamp - session_start) >= interval '1' day(1); -- delete from sakai_presence where session_id not in (select session_id from sakai_session where session_start = session_end); -- insert into sakai_event_bak select * from sakai_event where (current_timestamp - event_date) >= interval '1' day(1); -- delete from sakai_event where (current_timestamp - event_date) >= interval '1' day(1); -- commit; -- end;

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