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Blackberry Communications

RIM Server Crash Leaves Millions Without BBM 191

Several readers have sent word that "tens of millions of BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa have been unable to receive or send emails and messages through their phones, following an outage at the server systems of parent company Research In Motion." RIM has confirmed that they're aware of the problem and working to restore service. A former RIM employee said to The Guardian, "They didn't start looking at scalability until about 2007, when they had around 8M active devices. The attitude was, 'We're going to grow and grow but making sure our infrastructure can support it isn't a priority.' They have their own clunky infrastructure to do something that you don't really need a clunky infrastructure to do anymore."
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RIM Server Crash Leaves Millions Without BBM

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  • Is that the last minute is either "next year" or "last week" depending on which side of the disaster you're on.

  • Isn't iOS 5 going to feature a very similar "clunky infrastructure" feature?

    • by Necroman ( 61604 )

      Yes, but I believe you can fallback to SMS with iOS5.

      • by afabbro ( 33948 )

        Yes, but I believe you can fallback to SMS with iOS5.

        From an iPod?

        iMessage works across iOS devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad) and does not require a cellular plan, so on a large number of devices, there is no SMS to fall back on.

    • No. The Message app uses the iMessage protocol if available. If not available, it falls back to SMS/MMS. It's completely transparent/unified. The only indicator which message transport is being used is the color of the send button or conversation bubble. My first reaction was similar (how long until we see an iCloud outage), but for this example I don't think Apple has anything to worry about.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @06:24PM (#37671720)

    Okay, why does a disgruntled ex-employee's rant about scalability and infrastructure come into play before we know that scalability or infrastructure was the cause of the break? Seriously, maybe the taco bell dog just chewed through fiber lines in NY and LA while on tour. Could happen to anybody.

    • Given the way that RIM has been running itself out of business, I would be surprised if there weren't something to those assertions. It's definitely possible that it's a disgruntled ex-employee looking to bad mouth his former employers, but by the same token, RIM isn't exactly known for having competent management so a suggestion list this is at least plausible.

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        Depends on what your definition of competent management. They were very competent, but at maximizing their short-term share price.

        Choosing to not properly build your infrastructure and then crushing under the weight of 8M devices is a MUCH better decision than building the proper infrastructure and then watching your competitor get crushed under the weight of 8M devices while you go bankrupt because they beat you to market by two months.

        The managers who made the decision to skimp sold their stock ages ago

  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @06:24PM (#37671726) Homepage Journal

    ... they just don't know it yet. We have 40 Blackberry's in our company, but we purchased our last one about six months ago. I hope BES dies a painful, painful death.

    Android, here we come.

    • ... they just don't know it yet.

      So, you're saying they've been zombied.

      That would explain a lot actually.

    • Re:RIM is dead... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRedDuke ( 1734262 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @06:50PM (#37672124)
      Just out of curiosity: how are you going to manage 40 Android devices? Consumers are fleeing RIM, but without some semblance of enterprise management tools, Android really isn't a viable alternative for a larger business or enterprise that needs to lock down/look after/manage lots of devices. You might be able to do it with Windows Phone, but WP7 management options are a shadow of the WP6's. Until there's a real challenger to to the functionality of BES (despite the nightmare), RIM will continue to rear its ugly head.
      • Re:RIM is dead... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sodul ( 833177 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @07:02PM (#37672246) Homepage

        You need 'Enterprise' tools to manage 40 devices ?!? Methinks (and from experience) that you will spend more time and money 'managing' the 'Enterprise' tool than to manage the 40 devices directly.

        • The reason for BES is to make sure that employees don't do stupid things and run up the data usage and cell minutes. Enterprises want locked down phones for control and accountability. Without that control corporations won't move from blackberry.
          • by sodul ( 833177 )

            I doubt you have a 'corporation' when you have 40 devices. That probably mean you have a 100 employees company/startup where the overhead of fine tune management of devices is not worth it. Once you reach a couple hundred accounts, then yes maybe, at the level above it just gets in the way.

            • by msobkow ( 48369 )

              You can have a corporation of 1, at least in Canada. But that's beside the point....

              A company I recently worked for got burned badly by just ONE corporate user making unlimited overseas long distance calls. If you've got 40 devices out there, you can pretty much bet several of your employees will abuse them. 'Tis simple human nature.

              Aside from that, how hard can it be to go into an admin console and configure the limits on a user's device if the tools to do that are provided?

        • It takes a whopping 1.5 hours to deploy BES Express. I bet you I could have the server deployed and all of the blackberries configured before you got through configuring your andriods.

      • A quick google of 'Android Enterprise Management' returned some potential solutions:

        Zenprise []
        Good for Enterprise []
        3LM []

        Those were the top three. I'm sure there's more, including RIM's own Android management solution.

        • I saw those, but "being available" isnt the same as "widely known and trusted". They might be solid, and are worth looking at, but something you found on google 5 minutes ago hardly compares to a product thats been out for around a decade and has had its security vetted by the masses.

      • by jo42 ( 227475 )

        how are you going to manage 40 Android devices?

        'roid is open source! You write your own mis-management tools. Duh.

      • You don't. We used to have a fully managed BES setup, but the overhead of managing the Server, the devices, the accounts, the policy, billing and overspend etc was all too much. I appreciate this is not for everyone, but when your business is not as sensitive as govt or finance, you can be a bit more flexible. Now we give employees an allowance, they buy their own phones (their choice but all choose either android or iOS), and we have a how-to page to setup their devices. Overhead is now nearly zero for the
  • Thats the problem with blackberry devices depending on RIM for service...

    Your mobile operator could fail, but theres more than one operator...
    Your own email server could fail, but your in control of this yourself and can take steps to fix it... Plus, it only affects you and not anyone else, you have a choice of email providers and if you run the server yourself its your own fault if it fails.

    You are stuck with RIM service if you want a blackberry handset, you don't have a choice unless you switch to a diffe

    • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @06:44PM (#37672032)

      You are stuck with RIM service if you want a blackberry handset, you don't have a choice unless you switch to a different type of handset.

      Complete nonsense. Even without RIM service, it still functions as a phone, internet access, and SMS text messaging. Basically everything you use a smartphone for. You just dont have access to the secure RIM enterprise data and messaging services. Neither does any non BB device, so basically the BB just downgrades to a standard smartphone.

    • The problem is not that system failures happen, but that businesses and people don't plan to deal with those failures.

      Running your own email server will not prevent crashes. RIM crashes, Google crashes, a bazillion corporate email servers crash.

      The trick is not to expect anyone to really deliver 24x7x365 uptime, because no one has ever actually done so. The closest they've come is playing word games with the service contracts and reason for outages so that they can still claim 5-nines uptime, even th

  • It's as if millions of souls cried out ... and were suddenly silenced.
  • by BabyDuckHat ( 1503839 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @06:41PM (#37671990)
    In four years I'll be starting a company based on the idea of having a device that stores all your photos, emails, and applications locally so you aren't tied to the cloud.
    • by RedBear ( 207369 )

      In four years I'll be starting a company based on the idea of having a device that stores all your photos, emails, and applications locally so you aren't tied to the cloud.

      You're a little late. You have to hand it to Apple yet again, their new iCloud service is mainly used not to _store_ but to _sync_ your apps, music, photos, contacts, calendar events and documents between your devices, where almost everything is then stored locally on each device or computer. Gee whiz, how about that. What a concept, huh? An iCloud outage will just mean you temporarily won't be able to sync things between devices. Most people probably won't even notice if it doesn't last more than a day.

      I d

    • In four years I'll be starting a company based on the idea of having a device that stores all your photos, emails, and applications locally so you aren't tied to the cloud.

      Way to completely not understand how BES works. None of your stuff is stored in RIM's "cloud", whether you use BIS, BES, or neither. All BES and BIS do are provide push functionality. BES can go completely down, and my access to previous email is still there, as is my access to my gmail. My photos and apps, notably, are stored locally.

  • . . . to ruin my chances of snagging a big, beautiful man.

  • > have been unable to receive or send emails and messages through their phones

    Maybe the users just don't hold their phones correctly, like it happened with another vendor...

  • by Corson ( 746347 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @07:16PM (#37672404)
    A campaign against RIM has been running in the media for the last few months. Before the iPhone and Android devices there was the Blackberry and I bet RIM still have a few cards left up the sleeve.
    • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

      I bet RIM still have a few cards left up the sleeve.

      Unfortunately for those who like RIM, the cards up their sleeves are the instruction cards for playing poker.

    • As long as they stop buying into the "business phones need to be multimedia whizzes" bullshit, theyll be fine. People who want touch phones arent going to want a blackberry, and those of us who want blackberries dont want fast CPUs, games, and a touch screen. All we want is a messaging device that works and is reliable.

      Seriously, Im kind of pissed that I upgraded to BES os 6.0, and it was optimized for touch, but was less usable and less stable. If they can just focus on what theyre GOOD at-- BES, great

  • by dwm ( 151474 ) on Monday October 10, 2011 @08:34PM (#37673290)

    Wow, another Slashdot hatchet job on RIM. Heavy into Apple stock, are we?

    RIM certainly has issues, and it may not survive. But it seems the Slashdot editorial staff wants to make sure.

    • Wow, another Slashdot hatchet job on RIM.

      In Slashdot's defense, there were already several hatchets in place by the time they got there, and they were pretty obviously self-hatcheted. Slashdot is just pointing out the obvious.

      When you have a central point of failure you WILL HAVE FAILURES. It's like saying the sun will rise. I've never liked Blackberries for that reason long before any obvious decline began; I greatly prefer systems that lack such points of failure.

  • Even when it's Google or RIM, an email server being unavailable isn't what I'd call "news".

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"