In the last 36 hours Blackberry have suffered a major failure of its services.  For the best part of 20 hours yesterday the service was unavailable to parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  All three regions are served by a RIM data centre in Slough, Berkshire, UK.

Research in Motion (RIM) initially stayed quiet on the problem, which appeared around 11am BST on 10 October 20011, however as the torrent of complaints mounted on various social networking sites they were force to admit to an issue.

Eventually RIM issued a brief statement, via Twitter, apologising and stating the issue had been resolved.

Now, only a few hours later there are further reports that the service is failing.  RIM have again refused to comment but mobile networks are now posting on their status pages that some users are unable to access the internet, send emails or Blackberry instant messages.  Voice calls and Text message remain un-affected.

Beyond the failure and lack of update from RIM, it does raise an interesting issue.

The Blackberry, for years, seen as the secure and stable mobile platform of the Corporate user has more recently been adopted by individuals, attracted by competitive pricing plans.

The Blackberry service works quite differently from most other smart phone email technologies -- Your BB device relies on a BES or BIS server to communicate with the world.  (BES for corporate, BIS usually for individuals or small groups).  All emails, instant messages, and surfing is handled by these servers.  You can therefore see the problem -- if something goes wrong at the 'centre' you are in effect disconnected.  All your eggs are in one basket, so to speak.

In a more traditional setup a smart phone simply relies on an internet connection to gather up your communications. There is of course some smart technology included to offer the latest push email services akin to Blackberry, but in essence you are not relying on a central point for your service.

RIM, being a massive machine, will have huge numbers of servers, and redundancy built in -- although clearly not enough in this case!  BES users seem to be largely unaffected although there is no official word on this either.

One does wonder if they are running over capacity given their recent push for more users!

UPDATE - as at 10pm BST, some 14 hour after the second outage started,  RIM have admitted the fault blaming a "core switch failure in RIM's infrastructure. Now being resolved. Sorry for inconvenience".

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