Times Colonist

RIM launches SWAT team

Blackberry maker wants roots of outage


NEW YORK — Research In Motion Ltd., trying to rebuild client faith in its Blackberry smartphone network after a three-day outage last month, formed a “SWAT team” to find the cause of the failure across five continents.

The group, under chief technology officer David Yach, will go as far as considerin­g whether the server network should be redesigned, said Patrick Spence, head of regional sales and marketing.

“Do we need to make any changes to either distribute traffic differentl­y or look at how we do this completely differentl­y?” Spence said. “This will certainly give us pause to figure if there’s something else we need to be doing and so we are looking at what is the longer-term impact. There’s nothing that’s not on the table.”

The network failure began in Europe and the Middle East and spread to North and South America. CO-CEOS Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie came under fire for not addressing the failure publicly until the third day, when Lazaridis issued a video apology.

Even before the outage, RIM was fending off investor demands for fresh management and trying to stem market-share losses to competitor­s, including Apple Inc.

RIM said the delays were caused by a core switch failure within its infrastruc­ture. While the system is designed to transfer to a backup switch, that didn’t happen, resulting in a large backlog of data that spread across the network.

RIM routes its traffic through two main centres, in Waterloo for North America and in Slough, southern England, for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said Nick Dillon, an analyst at research firm Ovum in London.

The company would consider sending more traffic through network operators, Spence said.

Carriers including Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s largest network operator, have offered refunds to some Blackberry users in territorie­s including South Africa and Egypt.

“We have to earn back their trust, we have to show them that we’re going to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Spence said.

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