The BlackBerry outage

by techtiptom

Originally posted to wibc.com on 10/17/2011

The BlackBerry outage

The BlackBerry outage is clearing up, finally… Many companies rely on RIM technologies for critical business communications. The problems started early in the week for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, then spread to India and South America before making its way into North America, including RIM’s home turf in Canada.

The official cause of the outage was the failure of a dual-redundant high-capacity core switch, according to RIM. So it sounds like something deep in the bowels of the company failed, the backup behind that failed, and problems just mushroomed from there. Service was slow, messages were delivered hours late, and communications broke down at probably thousands of companies and organizations.

RIM acknowledged there was a problem relatively early on, but there was much confusion about which services weren’t working and which were. Some users claimed to have no problems whatsoever, while others in the same region said their phones were practically unusable. RIM’s still trying to discern the root cause, but it has apologized quite frequently over the past few days.

There’s never a good time for a service outage like this, but it’s an especially bad moment for RIM to fall on its face. The company’s endured quarter after quarter of disappointing business, its phones struggle to compare with top-shelf Androids and iPhones, investors are growing restless, and its two CEOs are under growing pressure to justify their own existence.

Meanwhile, Apple’s bragging about selling 1 million iPhone 4Ss on pre-order alone, despite the fact that the phone got kind of a ho-hum reception, by Apple’s standards. Then a massive outage comes along and irritates people who use their BlackBerries the most — the core customers RIM can least afford to lose.

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