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As you prepare for the new year ahead, we wanted to provide you with an update on the remainder of 2013 and share a new release model for Blackboard Learn™ in 2014. Based on client feedback, we plan to ship two releases a year; each release will include maintenance fixes, enhancements and/or new features. Blackboard may also release standalone Building Blocks™ at times to address system needs. However, any new Blackboard Learn features would be included in the two releases. In order to best focus our efforts on this new model, we are no longer planning to ship Blackboard Learn Service Pack 15 in December 2013.
Why are we making this change?
After speaking with hundreds of you this past year through events and focus groups, as well as interacting with hundreds more via support cases and client programs, there have been three consistent requests:
- Deliver Higher Quality
We heard from many of you that you felt quality was suffering at the expense of new features. And a top barrier to adoption of new releases is quality. You need to have confidence that new releases and core features will simply work. Moving to this release model will provide more time for Product Development and Quality Assurance to deliver releases with much higher initial quality.
- Provide Better Support
Your overall satisfaction is rooted in a number of areas which include product and support. Moving to this release model will reduce the complexity and associated overhead of supporting many different versions, allowing you to have a better support experience.
- Understand Your Process
You are in the business of delivering teaching and learning, and maintaining that continuity for your users is crucial. You have shared that you typically have one or two upgrade windows per year and have asked Blackboard to deliver software at a cadence that is easier to adopt and manage.
What is the new release schedule?
The following is the planned release schedule for Blackboard Learn in 2014:
|Release||Type||Client & Partner Beta Program||Planned Generally Available Release|
|1H 2014||Maintenance & Features||March 2014||April 2014*|
|2H 2014||Maintenance & Features||September 2014||October 2014*|
The two releases will consist of maintenance fixes, enhancements and/or new features.
What about Service Pack 15 (SP15)?
Our plan is to combine the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 15 capabilities with the first major version release under the new combined Blackboard Product Development and Product Management organization. All issues targeted for SP15 are now targeted for a future release. In the coming weeks, tickets submitted on Behind the Blackboard which were closed with a reference to SP15 will be updated with new release information.
What is the overall approach to maintenance?
In order to address maintenance issues, Cumulative Patches will continue through the remainder of 2013. In 2014, we will address maintenance via a combination of maintenance releases and Cumulative Patches. You will continue to be able to escalate your issues by following the current patch request process. Custom fixes such as patches will continue to address critical and security vulnerabilities. In terms of providing patches for older Service Packs, see below for the schedule:
- For SP12, Blackboard will continue to evaluate patch requests for critical issues until April 2014.
- For SP13, Blackboard will continue to release Cumulative Patches until April 2014.
- For SP14, Blackboard will continue to release Cumulative Patches until August/September 2014.
For Service Packs currently in the field, this provides similar support as to what was available in the prior release plan.
We realize that providing visibility into product issues is important to you. We will continue to publish a Known Issues list available on Behind the Blackboard and indicate the planned release or Cumulative Patch that has been targeted for resolution of a product issue.
We strive to always listen to client feedback, as well as provide you with releases of the highest quality. This next evolution in our release strategy will allow us to do this to a higher degree than ever before. As always, if you have any questions or additional feedback please feel free to contact Bala Balachander, SVP of Product Development for Blackboard Learn at email@example.com. And, if you haven’t already, please join the Blackboard Idea Exchange so you can participate in the community discussion to improve our product and processes.
*Statements regarding our product development initiatives, including new products and future product upgrades, updates or enhancements represent our current intentions, but may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.
The information contained in the Knowledge Base was written and/or verified by Blackboard Support. It is approved for client use. Nothing in the Knowledge Base shall be deemed to modify your license in any way to any Blackboard product. If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 Blackboard Inc. All rights reserved