By John Rendleman
As the first major disruption of its kind, the outage Tuesday night of
e-mail services on Blackberry mobile devices showed the critical role
the devices have assumed among government users. Beginning Tuesday
evening, the outage blocked or caused sporadic delivery of data messages
to Blackberry users in North America until early Wednesday morning,
although it did not disrupt Blackberry users voice services.
The outage showed that government users are as dependent on mobile
e-mail as users in the Fortune 500, said Randall De Lorenzo, vice
president of mobile strategy at ProfitLine, a telecom expense management
firm in San Diego. The devices have become so common in the public
sector that a single federal agency can account for as many as tens of
thousands of Blackberry users, De Lorenzo said.
As a measure of the penetration of mobile e-mail among large
organizations, 81 percent of the large enterprise IT and telecom staff
that responded to a ProfitLine poll said the outage caused noticeable
disruptions in their operations, while 44.5 percent of respondents said
it resulted in moderate to substantial drops in productivity, according
to the firm. Among respondents, only 18.2 percent said the outage
resulted in no harm to operations, ProfitLine said.
The outage will require Blackberrys parent firm, Research In Motion of
Ontario, Canada, to reassure its millions of users that disruptions will
not reoccur, even though the Blackberry messaging network had been free
of failures prior to the outage this week, ProfitLines De Lorenzo said.
RIM is still trying to determine what caused the outage, but in the wake
of the disruption is closely monitoring its systems to ensure normal
service levels, the company said in a statement.
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