Blackberry Outage Shows Importance of Continuity Plans

The recent disruption of Research in Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry mobile messaging service left many government departments and major businesses worldwide in the dark, as they were left with virtually no way to access e-mails, browse, or use its instant messaging capabilities for three days. This left these companies and agencies scrambling for ways to keep in touch, mainly through desktop PCs. And while service has been restored, it leaves those affected by the outage looking for alternatives in case such an occurrence happens again. A recent article by www.computerweekly.com discussed the Blackberry outage and the importance of BC planning.

The events that led to the disruption were caused mainly by a hardware failure, followed by a further failure in RIM’s dual-redundancy systems, which caused a “ripple effect” in the Blackberry infrastructure. In essence, the back-up switch did not function as it was intended, which led to a back-log of data that then overloaded the system in other places, thus bringing the whole service down.

The loss of service has led to many IT departments considering moving away from RIM’s Blackberry service altogether. Apple and Google Android devices offer viable alternatives. But even if a company or government agency moves to a cloud service, such as Google Apps, there is no guarantee that a service issue wouldn’t be suffered by those devices and services in the future. That is why it is a good idea to have some kind of contingency plan for when events beyond our control occur.

And communications providers are now working extra hard to bring these contingency solutions to customers. Case in point, the recently affected RIM! The company’s Mimecast, a continuity service being deployed by RIM against future disruptions, allows e-mails to be sent through the Mimecast clouds as opposed to RIM’s Blackberry service or Microsoft’s Exchange service. This gives businesses or agencies that might rely on Blackberry service an alternative service in case the system goes down again.

Will such an outage occur again? Who knows, but if it does, businesses should be prepared with some sort of contingency plan … unless they want to be left in the dark again.

For more information about the recent Blackberry outage and its effects on businesses, visit: http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2011/10/14/248159/Businesses-likely-to-rethink-continuity-plans-after-Blackberry.htm