Research in Motion is blaming technical problems in its highly secretive communications network for a three-day disruption in service to millions of BlackBerry users around the globe. The company runs a highly secure network and data centers that are used to encrypt and route traffic to every BlackBerry device worldwide.

What's behind the big bad RIM outage

What's behind the big bad RIM outage

Here are some questions and answers about the epic failure:

Q. What happened?

A. RIM said that a switch used to direct messaging traffic failed at a data center in Europe. Its back-up switch also failed, causing a huge backlog of traffic.

Q. What caused the failure?

A. RIM has yet to disclose the cause of the failure, but a company executive said at a press conference on Wednesday that company technicians believe they have identified the cause.

Q. Was hacking involved?

A. An  RIM executive said at a press conference on Wednesday that there is no evidence or hacking or a system breach.

Q. Why did the problem spread from Europe to the Americas?

A. All of the RIM data centers are connected. So eventually traffic got so backed up that it had an impact on messages of customers in the Americas, the RIM executive said.

Q. Will RIM compensate its customers for their inconvenience?

A. A n RIM executive said at the press conference that the company has yet to make a decision on that matter.

Q. How big is the RIM network?

A. Nobody outside the company knows for sure. Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek estimates that there are more than six major data centers around the world and “little nodes all over the place.” On top of that, he said RIM operates the world's largest telecommunications network. “It includes dark fiber. It includes connections to multiple data centers around the world. It includes connections to carrier networks, software at the cell site.” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky said RIM has two centers at its Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters for traffic in the Americas and Asia-Pacific, and another in Britain for traffic in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


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