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BlackBerry Outages Across North America 284

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the iphones-are-just-slow dept.
TheHappyMailAdmin writes "BlackBerry service in North America is out: no email, no BB Messenger and no web browsing. Last carrier estimate I got was 24 hours until service will be restored, with others saying they've gotten estimates from support from between 3 hours to 2 days. BES and BIS services are impacted, and it's across all carriers. Bad timing for RIM as people are wrapping up their holiday shopping..." Updated 18:11 GMT by timothy: Reader notheusualsuspect pings with a note that the service has been restored.
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BlackBerry Outages Across North America

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  • Works for me (Score:3, Informative)

    by jpyeron (456009) * on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:05AM (#30534702) Homepage

    I did a test message from/to my BB too.

    RTFA

    * FINAL UPDATE: Things are back to normal. RIM Statment to follow. ...

  • by NeuralAbyss (12335) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:08AM (#30534718) Homepage

    RIM seems to be particularly odd in chosing an architecture that gives a single point of failure.

    Then again, given most crackberry users.. nothing of value was lost.

    • by ircmaxell (1117387) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:26AM (#30534906) Homepage
      I think it's weird requiring all services to go through a middle man. Why should I need to use a proxy for push email when my exchange server supports it directly? (If there's a real reason, please tell me because I'm curious)...

      PS. I'm a proud owner of a Droid. Push email works quite well for me on it (directly from my server). I don't see a reason (for me) to switch to Blackberry/RIM). Is there a killer feature/functionality that a BB would give me over the Droid? Is it enough of a reason to add another point of failure in the stack?

      Thanks...
      • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:40AM (#30535026)
        BB is essential for cwhoreporate systems, because NO OTHER PHONE ON THE MARKET ANYWHERE matches its functionality... they can issue you a phone, then enforce strong passwords, content filtering, disable cameras so you don't end up sending pictures of your Christmas party indiscretion to your whole team, etc etc. Hell I can see my internal websites (not published to the internets) on my BB because it is basically VPN'd 24x7 to my work network.

        In short, if you use your phone for email and dicking around, then the BB is one of the worst smartphones for you... if you are a corporate entity that wants to have certain employees "connected" at all times, then there is no other choice. The only confusing part to me is why people buy themselves a non-corporate blackberry.
        • by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:04AM (#30535246) Homepage Journal

          "The only confusing part to me is why people buy themselves a non-corporate blackberry."

          Because, as you implied in your post, BlackBerry phones 'just work'. Most of the time.

          Push e-mail? A BIS phone works splendidly. BIS handles the actual polling. Even OWA seems to work fo those of us without BB servers at the home office. Ask your favorite Android user how their POP/IMAP email is working. Full disclosure; I am an Android user, G-1 on Donut. iPhone users, I have no idea how you POP mail works, but it can't be too bad or you all would have ditched... wait, nevermind.

          Web browsing? Very well done, considering the platform, since your BES is essentially a proxy server that solves some problems and gives you an enhanced experience. BIS does this also, just not as customizable as having a BES of your own.

          BIS is a good idea, though it does expose the single-point-of-failure issue. But, consider your cell service in general:

          - Most of us forget that the first single-point-of-failure is probably a cell tower. Yep, you might have two or three that can serve you, but if the backhaul from your tower is fritzed, you might have to wait until you get paroled from that tower, and move one to one that isn't hosed.

          - The next single-point-of-failure is probably a metro area uplink for your carrier. I don't know for sure, but I suspect redundancy here is not universal.

          - God forbid your carrier is architected like T-Mobile, or your single-point-of-failure is either a GSM service that has to be responsive or your phone is doing rock imitations, or a similar CDMA. I hear CDMA doesn't have the same architecture, but if your carrier can't authenticate you to the network, u b hosed.

          RIM has had more than its share of outages over the last two years, but they have been notable because of the popularity of the platform. I ditched my BB to try Android. My wife has not been affected by either outage this month - be they natiowide or global or whatever. Her BB Curve hasn't missed a beat. Lucky I guess. And she would not like my G1, or Andriod, at all. Too much fuss. She just wants mail and minimal web when she wants it.

          Dump on RIM if you want, but their platform works very well. Outages aside, it is a superior corporate solution, and makes most other platforms look like pants. Wait, are there ANY other corporate platforms?

          • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:45AM (#30535658) Journal

            IMAP email (actually, IMAPS) works perfectly on my iPhone. I also have authenticated SMTP over SSL for sending - I've not had a problem with either. (I also prefer my email to be pull only - email should be something I can poll when I have time, not something that goes ping every time something arrives, so push email is a "meh" feature for me).

            • by maztuhblastah (745586) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:49PM (#30536928) Journal

              IMAP email (actually, IMAPS) works perfectly on my iPhone.

              And S/MIME support?

              It might not matter to you or to most home users/teens/hipsters/iPhone users, but S/MIME is damn crucial for a lot of government and enterprise users. The iPhone doesn't support S/MIME, nor does Android, nor does Symbian. There're no third party mail apps for the iPhone (since Apple doesn't allow "duplication of functionality"), and none (that I know of) that provide S/MIME for Android, and definitely none for S/MIME on Symbian (I know because I checked last year when I was forced to use a Symbian phone.)

              S/MIME support, along with management of the associated certs, etc. is one thing that BlackBerrys excel at and, like it or not, a reason that a lot of users choose them.

        • by dnaumov (453672) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:14AM (#30535358)

          BB is essential for cwhoreporate systems, because NO OTHER PHONE ON THE MARKET ANYWHERE matches its functionality... they can issue you a phone, then enforce strong passwords, content filtering, disable cameras so you don't end up sending pictures of your Christmas party indiscretion to your whole team, etc etc. Hell I can see my internal websites (not published to the internets) on my BB because it is basically VPN'd 24x7 to my work network.

          Please, don't spread misinformation. Corporate policy management (which includes EVERYTHING you have listed and a lot of other things) has been available for Nokia phones for a long long time.

          • by gregarican (694358) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:35AM (#30535572) Homepage

            As well as the iPhone. I have a handful of corporate iPhone users and can remotely wipe their phones to a clean install from an admin console on our Exchange Server.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              As well as the iPhone. I have a handful of corporate iPhone users and can remotely wipe their phones to a clean install from an admin console on our Exchange Server.

              Not to the same level as BBs (at this point in time):

              http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/06/iphonesecurity/
              http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/07/23/iphone-security-broken-business-users-take-note/

              While not everyone needs that level of assurance, for those that do, RIM has gone through the effort of getting FIPS and other certifications:

              http://na.blackberry.com/eng/ataglance/security/certifications.jsp

        • by javilon (99157) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:16AM (#30535378) Homepage

          if you are a corporate entity that wants to have certain employees "connected" at all times, then there is no other choice. The only confusing part to me is why people buy themselves a non-corporate blackberry.

          I agree with you, and that means the dead of Blackberry.

          When people sees it, it looks like a phone, so they assume that they can do the things people do with a phone usually. Shortly after, they find out that this is only useful for work. It means that they are available to their bosses 24x7 and they get none of the fancy gadgets that iphone and Android users have installed on their phones.

          When they realize that they would like to have another phone for personal use, they hate the blackberry and resist having one as much as possible.

          On the other hand, you have the iphone and Android. People buy them and take them to work. They manage to force the IT department to write stuff for them. There are lots of security issues, but that is what users want.

          Now, which one of the two has more future in small/medium companies right now?

          And do you think that Blackberry will be able to live if only big enterprises use its terminals?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lewiscr (3314)

            And do you think that Blackberry will be able to live if only big enterprises use its terminals?

            Ask IBM.

        • I don't know about disabling cameras, but iPhones and Windows phones should be able to enforce strong passwords and use VPN.
        • by mu51c10rd (187182)

          they can issue you a phone, then enforce strong passwords, content filtering, disable cameras so you don't end up sending pictures of your Christmas party indiscretion to your whole team, etc etc. Hell I can see my internal websites (not published to the internets) on my BB because it is basically VPN'd 24x7 to my work network.

          As an FYI, Exchange 2010 can enforce those items on mobile devices via ActiveSync policies. Also, you can vpn with other phones. I used to use a BB Curve with Rove Mobile for admin t

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Not true at all. Microsoft's System Center Mobile Device manager does everything you listed. You could argue that the BES does it better or that the BB devices are superior to Windows Mobile devices but the fact remains the same ability to control and lock down devices as well as provide behind the firewall access is there. That said, I would say the majority of corporations using smartphones are doing so purely for email and have no desire to provide behind the firewall access nor want to lock down devices
        • by Kamokazi (1080091)

          That's technically correct...however Windows Mobile allows for many of the same security options (strong PW, disable camera), but not all. Generally you can lock them down to about the same extent, but you have more granular control over the BB security options. So it depends on what the specific security needs are. I support both a BES and WM devices on Exchange, and managing the WM devices (server side, at least) is a much more pleasant experiences. Working with a BES can be frustrating at times, to s

      • by alen (225700)

        as it was already said a lot of government agencies and contractors rely on RIM. as well as any company that wants secure mobile email. the traffic is encrypted and it's a VPN from your phone to your email server. and all the internet traffic from the phone flows through your organization's network where it can be filtered and managed. Intranet access is easy with blackberries as well without opening up ports on the firewall or putting internal website IP's on public DNS servers.

        I have an iphone 3GS as well

      • The Blackberry business model predates the arrival of the current generation of smartphones. RIM charges telcos a monthly fee for each subscriber using the various Blackberry services (messenger, mail and data). Licensing the server technology to cell providers would cost RIM a fortune in monthly license fees, because no doubt the wireless providers would negotiate huge discounts. I also suspect that the blackberry.net infrastructure is a tangled mess that would challenging to support when run by countless
    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:34AM (#30534972)

      As a TV Master Control honcho in a previous life, I read stuff like this and I shake my head... hours?? DAYS?! In broadcasting, that's not an outage, that's a carefully orchestrated attack by space aliens. Why does anyone on the corporate management level even remotely tolerate this? What, there's not enough money changing hands over at RIM to merit hiring the right professionals and institute the proper safeguards and procedures? The infomercial that aired at 3AM on Channel 11 has a better back-up plan than RIM's entire service? It boggles...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jjoelc (1589361)

        Amen! I am currently working in engineering, keeping master control going at a TV station... And I would have to think real hard to come up with a system here that does not have redundancy built in. If we went off-air for that amount of time, then God himself had better be signing the paperwork! (Even then it may not help!)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)

        My local broadcast stations have had a couple of hour plus outages since the DTV transition, so perhaps 'new' has something to do with it (some of them were because they were unhappy with coverage and they upgraded power and changed locations).

    • crackberry users.. nothing of value was lost

      However, the rest of us really do have to fear what Crackberry users suffering from withdrawal will do with their SUPER THUMBS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As an interesting side effect, my company gives all primary/secondary on-call folks BB's. They in turn automatically get messaged whenever some process starts failing. This lead to an interesting find last night when our on-call Oracle DBA called in wanting to know why he wasn't getting any BB messages as he found one of our Auth DB's ran out of space and was failing to allow for account changes (passwd changes, account updates, etc) and he never got a message about it. This type of thing is wide spread acr

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:10AM (#30534734)

    BB users are the biggest type-A douchebags around. They differ from their hipster iPhone douchebag brethren by typically wearing suits, talking loudly on their phones while waiting in line, and driving faux-retro American sedans. I knew when I woke up this morning that it would be a good day, as if millions of douchebags cried out and were suddenly silenced. Merry Christmas to all.

    • Re:Thank you Karma (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gregarican (694358) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:18AM (#30534816) Homepage

      True in a lot of ways. Perhaps a _brief_ outage would put people's lives in perspective. In all actuality you really aren't that important and being in constant contact with the rest of the world in real time through your hip-holstered cell phone isn't that important either.

      People seriously need a "mental health" to unplug from the grid and take a chill pill. What better time of year than right leading into the Holidays to do this?

      Reminds me of places I've done IT support. Our core billing systems, inventory systems, accounting systems, etc. would be down and it was a PITA to the end users. But god forbid if Internet or e-mail access was down. You'd think that the CHQ was on fire and Milton was running away from the scene. :-/

      • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:31AM (#30534952) Homepage

        I'd like to see a medium-long facebook outage.
        Certain hardcore users would get physical withdraw symptoms, coma, then death.

        • This isn't that much of an exaggeration. Actually I am one of the legion of Facebook junkies and I actually might have to break down and read a book, watch a TV show, or clean my house. Egads!!!

      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:11AM (#30535340)

        ...unplug from the grid and take a chill pill.

        Timothy Leary once said something similar.

      • One of my duties in a previous job was looking after the BES and the Crackberry users. Someone once asked me if there was anything I could do as their Blackberry was waking them up when an email arrived in the middle of the night. I introduced them to the 'off' switch.
  • The Joke's on RIM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:12AM (#30534758)

    My Blackberry has once again broken so I haven't been impacted by this outage. I haven't even had time to set up BB mail on my newest replaced Crapberry.

    This is the first and last Blackberry I will ever owned, but because of Blackberry's poor quality, I'm now on my third one. Just trying to survive a 2 year contract on T-Mobile, America's worst cellphone company.

    I don't know what phone I get next (Android or iPhone) but I promise I will never own another Blackberry as long as I live.

  • One wonders... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:13AM (#30534776) Journal
    How long RIM's model of interposing their own(seemingly rather unstable) services lasts.

    Obviously, when the carrier has some major fuckup, email/web aren't going to happen because the packets are being routed to their deaths, like so many binary lemmings, somewhere within the series of tubes.

    RIM's presence in the loop, though, seems like an increasingly useless liability. Back when Blackberries were little more than pagers, in terms of hardware spec, RIM's service made sense. Now, though, phones are powerful enough to speak the same protocols as computers. Why, if my carrier is passing packets properly, and my mailserver is up, should RIM be standing in the middle?
    • by adamstew (909658)

      It's so that RIM can take a slice of the monthly fee pie. Just follow the $$. Not only do they charge you for the device, they charge you for the privilege of using it each month.

      • I know why RIM wants to do it, I'm just curious how long they'll be able to get away with it.

        I'm sure that they'll hang on in enterprise setups that have all sorts of hardcore BES integration baked into their process for a fair while; but, if I were them, I would fear pretty strongly for their future on the consumer/business without significant legacy side of the market.

        With the availability of push-IMAP and/or activesync licensing, it wouldn't exactly be rocket surgery for a carrier to say to HTC, or
        • by alen (225700)

          the estimate for iphone sales is 10 million this quarter. Apple and RIM have different quarter time frames so it won't be for a little while until we find the real sales numbers. RIM sales seem to have flattened out while iPhone sales are skyrocketing and it's cheaper than RIM depending on the device.

          so i would guess that Apple is going to poach RIM customers as contracts expire

          • by adamstew (909658)

            They are going to have to go multi carrier before they do this. I think they've poached the majority of people they are going to by being tied to AT&T.

            Once they're on Verizon, look out. Their sales numbers will likely double over night in the US market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I had an argument with someone about this topic a while back. It was a BlackBerry user who was insistent that a lot of value was added by putting RIM in the middle of your conversations... something about being able to email other blackberry users directly, and their Blackberry would get it even if their mail server was down... maybe? I don't know. Didn't make sense to me. And there was the fact that it was encrypted, and that you could have it push emails to your phone instead of your phone querying th

  • Panic panic panicpanicpanic

    Wait, I am posting this from my blackberry via BIS (RIM internet)...

    Oh well, apparently the Armageddon is still a few days off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Norsefire (1494323)
      Before you decided to be a smug prick on the internet did you consider the fact that Blackberry's Internet services were down for 8 hours [cnn.com] but are now fixed? That perhaps when the story was submitted, the service was down but due to the delay in the story reaching the front-page the service is now restored? Did you think about that?

      Of course you didn't.

      Apparently the Armageddon is still a few days off.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jeffmeden (135043)

        Before you decided to be a total tool did you consider the fact that I noticed the outage yesterday afternoon (when my BBMs weren't getting through), followed the situation to it's completion on crackberry.com, and just decided to post in order to get a laugh (after laughing that slashdot just now started covering the 'story' right around the same time it was over and done with)?

        Of course you didn't, you're a tool with no sense of humor. I would nickname you 'Chainsaw', but irony is probably lost on you to

    • by MooseMuffin (799896) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:46AM (#30535080)
      You posted from that thing? You're braver than I thought.

      Seriously though, you didn't actually come to slashdot and navigate through the comments on the default BB browser did you?
  • by ratnerstar (609443) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:26AM (#30534894) Homepage

    Crap, no work emails on Christmas Eve? Whatever shall we do?

    • Well, show me the way
      To the next signal bar
      Oh, don't ask why
      Oh, don't ask why

      Show me the way
      To the next signal bar
      Oh, don't ask why
      Oh, don't ask why

      For if we don't find
      The next signal bar
      I tell you we must die
      I tell you we must die
      I tell you, I tell you
      I tell you we must die
  • I've noticed a lot of these kinds of outages lately, not just with RIM but with other network providers. They usually seem to follow a failed routine-maintenance cycle. Do carriers really not design their networks and systems to support rolling upgrades and the like? More importantly, has there been a breakdown of the test-and-release cycle that's supposed to catch these things before service dies for everyone?

    I guess the other thing might be all the third-party hosting and outsourcing that goes on in IT...

  • ... from the site linked in the article: "* FINAL UPDATE: Things are back to normal. RIM Statment to follow."

    This is the second outage in a week apparently (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2009-12-23/rim-reports-second-blackberry-outage-within-a-week-update2-.html) .

    ITProPortal has the funniest story about this (http://www.itproportal.com/portal/news/article/2009/12/23/rim-blackberry-service-hit-yet-another-e-mail-problem/): "The substantial number of users on online forums whining about the issue indicate

  • SMTP/POP/IMAP (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pascal Sartoretti (454385) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:38AM (#30535006)
    In the meantime, the worldwide SMTP / POP / IMAP still works fine and serves millions (if not billions) of users with standards-based protocols.
    • by alen (225700)

      so how do you get your email on your phone without opening up the POP and IMAP ports on your firewall? there are only 2 ways for this and that's RIM or Microsoft.

      • so how do you get your email on your phone without opening up the POP and IMAP ports on your firewall? there are only 2 ways for this and that's RIM or Microsoft.

        Or you can establish a VPN from your phone.

        At least with Microsoft, you don't have a single point of failure !

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          At least with Microsoft, you don't have a single point of failure !

          Yeah, there are probably dozens of points where the Microsoft stuff can fuck up and cause you grief! That's way better!

          • Yeah, there are probably dozens of points where the Microsoft stuff can fuck up and cause you grief! That's way better!

            I prefer to operate Microsoft software under my control than to rely on a single company such as RIM for the software and its operation.

            And I prefer to operate open source software than Microsoft software.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        so how do you get your email on your phone without opening up the POP and IMAP ports on your firewall? there are only 2 ways for this and that's RIM or Microsoft.

        Well if you want to participate in this whole intraweb messaging thing and access your email from someplace other than the console then you probably are going to be opening up those ports.

        That said, the value in RIM and Exchange ActiveSync is the sync of contacts and calendars. Something that POP and IMAP can't do.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by greed (112493)

        How about opening the POP3S and IMAPS ports, instead? And put some sensible password restrictions in. And use TLS SMTP with mandatory login on the SMTPS port. I have users on Palm Treo, Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, iPod Touch, and more.

        The server I run can also be set to require client SSL certificates. I believe the iPhone "Profile" feature is where this would be set up for corporate clients; when I imported my SSL CA certificate, it created a profile automatically.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Microsoft?

        I know one of my IMAP accounts is hosted on some sort of Linux or BSD machine. It used to be a Cobalt server, but I think they switched that a while back. Another is on a Red Hat machine in the lab. Another is definitely a non-MS machine, since you can use Pine to read it. The last is a Mobile Me account, so I really doubt it has much to do with Microsoft.

        • by nxtw (866177)

          He is referring to Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol, which runs over https and provides push mail, calendaring, contacts, and has more management features than using IMAP(S) alone. There's no need to use any Microsoft software at all to use the protocol: it's implemented by open source products and by Google.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            He is referring to Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol, which runs over https and provides push mail, calendaring, contacts, and has more management features than using IMAP(S) alone. There's no need to use any Microsoft software at all to use the protocol: it's implemented by open source products and by Google.

            No need to use any Microsoft software ? Yes. But you need to first licence ActiveSync, see here [microsoft.com] the companies who did it (and probably paid a lot of money to Microsoft). No open source software there.

            Using a (proprietary) protocol such as ActiveSync is better than relying on a single point of failure, but using a standards-based protocol would be better.

  • by ZenDragon (1205104)
    Is this still a problem? My blackberry is working fine... I havnt had any problems all day or yesterday and I've been on it hourly at the least. In fact it almost seems to be faster right now than it has been in a long time! Maybe thats because everybody else is out! haha In any case, I have t-mobile.
  • I received emails all night long on BES. My wife's BB on BIS is also working fine.

    The last outage didn't affect me either.

  • by frank249 (100528) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:46AM (#30535078)

    It took me a few minutes to realize that my BBMs were not going through. I ended up just calling. Funny how after you are used to BBMing and emailing, that having to make a phone call and actually talking to someone seems to bother me.

  • And yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:55AM (#30535140) Homepage Journal

    And yet strangely I can post this comment from my 'berry.

  • Mine's down and I've had the most productive day that I can remember. Thank you, RIM!
  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:41AM (#30535624) Homepage
    I use Opera mini as my browser and have the gmail app for my email and calendar. That seems to avoid these problems. I've had my BB for almost a year now and like it a lot.
  • Shouldn't they built in some sort of redundancy and allow for failure modes. I mean just how difficult is it to move bits from A to B .. ?

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