“The big loss appears to be unambiguously in Blackboard Basic licenses. One factor that theoretically might have contributed to this loss is consolidation of Basic licenses under a consortial Enterprise license. In this case, the loss of a license wouldn’t equal the loss of a customer. But according to Mr. Stanton, the number of Basic license losses due to consortial consolidation in the last year was ‘immaterial’ because Blackboard currently only supports a very small number of consortial licenses. So it looks like the drop in Basic licenses really does represent a loss of customers.”
I was really surprised to find out that Blackboard Basic customers don’t get LDAP authentication — it’s a feature I certainly expect in pretty much any serious product at this point. In particular, given the recent focus on Identity Management (IdM), it seems that many institutions would be hard-pressed to even consider any products that don’t integrate within a broader campus authentication strategy. Additionally, with LDAP being such a widely-deployed standard, the marginal cost of the feature has to approach $0.
Fortunately, with Sakai converging on the Unicon JLDAP provider, this is a story that we’re at least getting better at, though in the past we’ve suffered from an embarrassment of riches in this area.