February 13, 2008, 9:46 AM — The second lengthy BlackBerry outage in less than a year has one consulting
company advising clients not to rely solely on the popular smart phones for
critical e-mail messages.
Enterprises that really need e-mail responses in less than eight hours to run
their businesses should have a backup for the BlackBerry, Gartner
analyst Ken Dulaney said Tuesday, in the wake of a crash that lasted about three
hours on Monday. They should also set up an independent system to notify them
whether an important contact has received or replied to an e-mail message, Dulaney
Late Tuesday, RIM said the
outage was caused by a problem with an internal data routing system in the BlackBerry
service infrastructure that had recently been upgraded. That upgrade was part
of an ongoing expansion of the network, and this type of change had been done
previously with no problems, it said.
Monday's failure followed a longer outage in April 2007 that RIM attributed
to a problem with a minor software upgrade and a subsequent glitch in a failover
There are about 12 million BlackBerry users worldwide, on a variety of mobile
carriers. The crash Monday affected users throughout the U.S. and Canada, preventing
them from sending or receiving e-mail or carrying out some other functions,
though no messages were permanently lost, according to RIM.
Gartner's Dulaney had harsh words for RIM, saying he had given the company
a break after last year's failure.
"This does not appear to be a mission-critical system with the highest
service-level agreements, and therefore, to entrust ... that a message will
get to the end point is being a bit foolhardy," Dulaney said. He advises
enterprises that are worried about dependability to ask RIM for details of its
backup system and make their own decisions.
After last year's outage, RIM said it would enhance aspects of its testing,
monitoring and recovery processes.
"RIM has made significant investments to improve its system recovery infrastructure
and processes over the last year, which enabled service levels to return to
normal quickly," the company said Tuesday.
"They obviously didn't do as deep a dive as they needed to on disaster
recovery issues," Dulaney said. But he acknowledged the failure could have
been caused by something completely unexpected.