Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Posted By mwasowski      Category

Dear Elluminate and Wimba Communities,

When Wimba and Elluminate joined Blackboard in July, we committed that we’d share our vision for the road ahead at EDUCAUSE. We want to be as transparent as possible about our product strategy, which was informed by input from many customers we’ve listened to in recent months. As our companies come together, they’ve asked us to focus on three principles:

•    Support the products we have now and allow us ample time for change management, if and when needed.
•    Focus resources on delivering easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use, educationally-focused products that bring needed innovations and enhancements.
•    Support openness and integrations with other technology platforms.

We’ve taken these mandates to heart, and I believe we’ve honored all of them in our go-forward strategy. Here’s our roadmap for the road ahead:

Instant Collaboration
We have two solutions that let you see the presence status of others you want to collaborate with and easily start a collaboration session if they’re available: Wimba Pronto and Elluminate VCS. They will both be supported through the end of 2011. At that point, Wimba Pronto will be our go-forward core product. Pronto provides a native MacOS-supported client, advances in accessibility, CMS integrations, and the ability to deploy in a SaaS model, and we’re excited to continue development of this robust solution. This week, we announced availability of the Universal Integration for Wimba Pronto to many other CMS/LMS/SIS products, reinforcing our commitment to openness across our product sets.

Anytime Collaboration and Content Creation
All of our products in this category, including Wimba Voice, Wimba Create, Elluminate Plan!, Elluminate Publish! and LearnCentral, will continue to be sold and serviced as they are today.

Scheduled Collaboration
Wimba Classroom and Elluminate Live! are our two main products for Web conferencing sessions for meetings, events, virtual classrooms and other uses. Both have many users and deep functionality sets but investing in both over the long term would prevent us from focusing resources on innovations our customers want. So we will invest in a single platform, based on the foundational architecture of Elluminate Live!, that incorporates core features from both systems, user interface enhancements planned as part of the Wimba LiveX project, and new innovations not found in either solution today.

Dubbed “Project Gemini,” this effort will be managed in a way that limits any disruption to the current work you’re doing and provides ample time and flexible options for any future transitions. We will support, maintain and host the current versions of Wimba Classroom through January 2014 and host Wimba Classroom archives through August 2015. We will also support, maintain and host the current version of Elluminate Live! until 2012. When the new platform is ready, we’ll provide parallel access to releases to help build familiarity and to ease transitions.

We’re sharing this news here on the blog and in person at EDUCAUSE this week.  More detail on our plans can be found at our Web site and in a series of Webinars we’ll be hosting next week.

I hope you are as excited about our plans as I am. By combining the resources of Elluminate and Wimba, we are able to create efficiencies to better position us for innovation over the long-term. Project Gemini is our first example, which along with Wimba Pronto, will form the key pillars of our new collaboration platform. One that will allow us to innovate faster and farther in the next decade and to better realize the promise of collaboration technology to support teachers and learners. I hope we can count on your support in the journey ahead, and thank you for your continued partnership to date.  

Maurice Heiblum, President
Blackboard Collaborate

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.