RIM's Outage: Nail In Coffin? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Infrastructure // PC & Servers
02:16 PM
Connect Directly

RIM's Outage: Nail In Coffin?

Research In Motion's 3-day BlackBerry service outage has many customers wondering whether it's time to switch to another mobile device.

The unthinkable happened. During the week when Apple's new iPhone 4S ships, and the week prior to an announcement of Google's Android 4 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich), Research In Motion experienced a three-day service outage that impacted millions of customers around the world. A switch in the company's UK NOC failed, and its failover procedures also failed, and messages were queued up for days, stuck, delivered irregularly if at all.

On Thursday, RIM had everything working, the company's co-CEOs issued apologies, talked to the press, but were still not very forthcoming with what was behind the failure, saying only that they are performing a root cause analysis, that co-CEO Mike Laziridis personally orchestrated efforts to remedy the problem, and that nobody had gone home since Monday, all in an attempt to simply fix the problem.

By then, service had largely returned, but RIM was left with its biggest challenge yet in a year filled with them. Its service happens to be one of the core pillars of its offering, a differentiator that matters greatly, at least to information workers and their IT shops. If the RIM secret sauce fails, and the company is at a loss to explain it (some customers complained that they learned everything from press reports), it doesn't leave RIM much wiggle room.

On Thursday's conference call, the co-CEOs were both cryptic and dismissive. In all honestly, many of the questions lobbed at them exposed the public's misunderstanding of what RIM offers its customers, and what those customers value. By the end of the call, it seemed as if the press understood that RIM's architecture was almost purposely built to confuse people, and to fail. The executives didn't do much to help themselves in this regard, but at least the apology felt genuine. Certainly unplanned outages happen. Certainly RIM's service is complicated. Certainly it's been a long week.

Next week RIM holds its U.S. BlackBerry Developer's Conference. It's certain the company didn't want to spend its time at this gathering talking about its failures. Certainly it wanted to talk about converting Android apps to Android apps for the BlackBerry Playbook, or enticing developers to bring games and other apps to the BlackBerry platform. To furthering the discussion of QNX.

Now investors aren't happy, customers are livid, or, at best, befuddled, and developers must be scratching their heads thinking about why they might be hitching their fortunes to a company that, lately at least, can't seem to get much right.

Let's hope that next week, Mike Laziridis and Jim Balsillie take the stage, draw out a diagram of how the system's architecture works, walking everyone through every detail of what went wrong, and mapping out all of the steps it is taking to prevent it from happening again. Let's hope it draws on its coffers to give carriers and their customers service rebates. And let's hope that there's a better plan for the future.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
IT Careers: 10 Industries with Job Openings Right Now
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/27/2020
How 5G Rollout May Benefit Businesses More than Consumers
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  5/21/2020
IT Leadership in Education: Getting Online School Right
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/20/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Key to Cloud Success: The Right Management
This IT Trend highlights some of the steps IT teams can take to keep their cloud environments running in a safe, efficient manner.
Flash Poll