BlackBerry global outage caused by core switch failure

Backup system also failed but a fix is on the way, says RIM.

BlackBerry service delays experienced by users around the world yesterday were caused by a core switch failure within the infrastructure of Research in Motion (RIM), the company said. A RIM spokesman said service was beginning to be restored to normal, although there would be further delays as backlogs in data are cleared. It was the second outage or "delay," as RIM put it, in two days affecting users in numerous countries. RIM's system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, but the failover system "did not function as previously tested," according to a statement issued by RIM. When the failover did not function, a backlog of data was generated. The company is working to clear that backlog. "RIM has failed again at what plagued them in past outages, which is to provide a comprehensive disaster recovery solution," Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner, said after the cause of the outage had been made public. Dulaney said that while switches can fail, "there should be automatic ways in which the system recovers from this type of event. Any vendor who runs this type of mission critical service must constantly be reviewing disaster recovery solutions." The latest problems occurred in two phases, with a 12-hour outage Monday evening affecting some BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to RIM. That problem was fixed, the company said, without explaining the cause. Then on Tuesday evening , wireless carriers in the UK and Egypt reported outages that continued for hours. RIM said an hour later that the delays affected some customers in South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, but didn't immediately offer an update about the underlying problem. Tweets and other reports blamed a server outage in Slough, UK, where RIM operates a datacentre, but the company would not comment on those reports. The Slough datacentre would serve much of Europe and the Middle East, analysts said. RIM also runs a datacentre near its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario. But a datacentre outage in the UK or Canada probably wouldn't explain service problems in South American countries, such as Brazil, Chile and Argentina, analysts noted.

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