RIM explains BlackBerry outage

Last Tuesday's outage of e-mail services for BlackBerry mobile devices left millions of users wondering where their e-mail went.

Two days later, on April 19, BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) offered an explanation for the outage.

The problem was caused by software designed to optimize system caches, according to a statement issued by the company.

'Pre-testing of the system routine proved to be insufficient,' the statement noted. To make matters worse, when the caching routine crashed the system, RIM's failover backup system 'did not fully perform to RIM's expectations' and caused further delay in restoring service.

The statement reassured users that the outage had nothing to do with security or capacity issues.

It's worth noting, however, that one factor contributing to the widespread nature of the outage is the BlackBerry system's highly centralized message routing. All BlackBerry e-mails are routed through one of two network operations centers ' one in Canada serving the Western Hemisphere, and another in England serving Europe, Africa and the Middle East, according to a Gartner report issued last summer.

GCN has not been able to reach a RIM spokesperson for comment.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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