Archive for October, 2011

Blackberry Outages

2011/10/16

Blackberry Outages

 

On the heels of a Blackberry outage on December 22, 2010, several Blackberry Messenger bugs widely reported in June 2011, and the Blackberry outage in July 2011, comes a huge outage in October 2011.

The following quotes are taken from RIM’s UK service site.

Monday 10th October -15:00(BST)

We are currently working to resolve an issue impacting some of our BlackBerry customers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA.)

Tuesday 11th October -21:30(BST)

The messaging and browsing delays that some of you are still experiencing were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.

Wednesday 12th October – 12.00 (BST)

We know that many of you are still experiencing service problems. The resolution of this service issue is our Number One priority right now and we are working night and day to restore all BlackBerry services to normal levels.

Thursday 13th October – 17.05 (BST)

As BlackBerry services continue to return to normal, some users may still be experiencing delays with messaging and browsing. In some cases this can be resolved by a full device reboot. To reboot your device, remove and then reinsert the battery.

OK, so here are some of my thoughts on this outage:

The stated root cause was a core switch failure coupled with a failover mechanism that did not work.  A third problem (it seems failures always come in quantities of three or more!) was that the system couldn’t handle the subsequent backlog of messages.  In other words, it didn’t have the capacity to handle a large number of essentially simultaneous messages.  Also, the system seemed to affect certain users in theUnited States.  Perhaps this was because of backlogs of messages to or from EMEA.  I couldn’t find an acknowledgement or explanation from RIM.  I also find the level of disclosure from RIM to be far below the quality and completeness of Amazon’s disclosures that I reported on earlier. The bottom line is that the outage lasted from Monday afternoon to Thursday evening, or a little more than 72 hours, and it affected many users in EMEA and some inNorth America.

Aside from the fact that a 72 hour outage spoils one’s MTTR and availability numbers, it appears that the client base was a bit upset.  This was not so much due to an outage, but it seemed to be due to a loss of confidence in RIM and its Blackberry system.  Here are a few quotes posted on www.focus.com:

From Andrew Baker, Director, Service Operations,SWNCommunications Inc., posted onOct. 13, 2011,

“RIM has been having lots of PR problems and corporate customer problems of late.

“Based on my own personal sampling of several dozen customers who use RIM services, the sentiments generated by this set of outages are not good. There were a few hold-outs who were adamant that RIM would survive all the talk of doom and gloom, that are now looking to implement alternatives.

“This is at both the technical level and the executive level within these organizations.

Confidence has suffered considerably, and the timing for them could not be worse. And they totally botched the PR associated with this outage.

“They do not appear to have a sound strategy to deal with the many competitive challenges of their market, and they are poor communicates even in crisis. They failed to capitalize one of their core strengths, which was device security, and have undermined confidence in their other, which is their network.

“RIM is in the midst of a death spiral — the only question is how long it will take. Look for a number of highly publicized defections over the next few months, which will add fuel to the perception of their demise, and hasten it.”

From Patrick Adams, Director, Adduce:360: “In my experience the BB BES approach is still seen as the mainstream messaging solution for [corporations] – however, I do think that BB has a big challenge to maintain their position – irrespective of this recent outage.

From Adele Berenstein, Consultant and Trainer, Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management: “I believe that RIM (the manufacturer of BB) has a unique position as the secure provider for email for corporations. Unless there is an alternative with equivalent functionality, corporations and governments will not have a choice but to forgive. I am sure the big corporations are putting pressure on RIM to fix their problems.

“When an alternative comes along, then RIM could conceivably loose their significant market share in the business and government markets.”

From Philip Sawyer, Managing Member, Voyage Media Group: “Honestly, I’m not sure RIM will ever get back on track. The well-established iPhone and Android devices have been steadily eating away at BB’s user base…and with Windows Phone rapidly gaining traction with their recent innovations, I think we’ll see another migration begin to take place, as die-hard business users begin to notice the growth of another trusted name in the corporate world (Microsoft) into the smartphone industry.”

And finally from Juan Barrera, “There is no way I am going back to BlackBerry, I waited over 5 years for them to come up with something remarkable, only saw excuses after excuses from its very-high-egos Co-CEOs. Now 100% Apple! at all levels.”

My personal opinion is that BB BES is a very nice product.  I loved it when I was using it, in spite of a few quality problems.  What is sad is to see RIM’s image erode with individual customers abandoning the BB, and with corporate customers looking for an alternative.  With competition on the horizon, RIM should have been focusing on cementing their customer base.  They clearly have not.  The moral here is that becoming lax on quality and not working seriously to protect availability can really ruin a company.

-gayn

Gayn’s Guide to Starting on Linkedin

2011/10/06

Gayn’s Guide to Starting on Linkedin

There are many fine introductions to Linkedin.  There are some great courses as well.  For my friends who ask me for help, I’ve created the following:

0.  Signup with Linkedin.  It’s free.  Fill out a basic profile to get you started.  You can always (and you should frequently) edit and polish your profile.  I think a profile should include a photo appropriate for business.  I also recommend using an alias or secondary email address for Linkedin.  The spammers will eventually get your Linkedin email address, and it should be easy to change to avoid spam.

NOTE:  There are several ways to generate contacts in Linkedin.  My most fundamental advice is to do it one-at-a-time with an individualized message.  It could be to ask an old friend or colleague to get together, or it could be to explain to someone that you have common interests and that it would be mutually beneficial to get to know each other.  Always edit or add to Linkedin’s default message “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”  Also, never let Linkedin have access to your contact list, and never give Linkedin a distribution list (list of email address) to request contacts on your behalf.  The problem is that you can’t customize the request message!  I think impersonal requests cause more harm than good.  Linkedin and its users frown on using the “Don’t know” category in a connection request.  Some Linkedin users are LIONs (“Linked In Open Networkers”) who accept any invitation.  You can use “Friend” or your current company to connect to such users.  Often LIONs will add their email address to their public information to make it easy to contact and connect to them.  None-the-less, customize the invitation, even to a LION.

1.  To really start, convert your current contact lists to Linkedin contacts.  It doesn’t matter if they are in an old fashioned paper Rolodex, or in an email contact list.  Look the person up in Linkedin and click “Add to my network.”  If you’ve done business with that person before, click that button and select your company.  (This list comes from filling out your profile.) If you are just friends, click that button.  If you know their email address, click the “Other” button to get going. If you don’t know an email address, call the person.  Say what’s up, and ask for an email address so that you can connect on Linkedin.  If the person is not on Linkedin, call them up and refresh your acquaintance anyway.  For each person you talk to, ask, “Who do you think I should talk to about this?”  If their recommendation is someone you don’t know, ask for a referral/introduction.”

2.  Every business person in your XXX Club [Fill in XXX with any club you belong to. E.g. bowling, real estate, investing, etc.] should be in your Linkedin contact list.  Use the club’s membership list.  Make it a goal to happen.  You may need to call some members.  It’s a good excuse to talk, as above.  Do this also for all networking groups you join.

3.  Join just under 50 Linkedin groups that interest you. Set your group email for each to WEEKLY; otherwise you’ll be inundated with daily email from the group. The point here is that each group has a lot of chatter, often informative, and most have a list of open jobs and other opportunities.  Participate in the group dialogs, at the very least with a short introductory note when you join.  Note that everyone has access to your Linkedin profile, so that rambling on as to who you are is unnecessary.

4.  Do newspaper and web research.  When you find a name of interest, look it up on Linkedin, and see what groups that person belongs to.  If you’ve groups in common, then Linkedin will let you communicate directly to ask for a connection.  If not, join one of their groups.  [This is why you initially join under the limit of 50 groups – so that you can add more.]  If the person is interesting, then their groups are probably interesting.  When I personalize my connection request, I mention how that person’s name came up.

5.  Each time you get a connection, look at your contact’s contacts.  Obviously if you know someone, especially one you worked with before, ask them to connect.  Anyone who is interesting that you don’t know, but one who is in a common group, you can ask to connect using the Group option.  If this fails, ask your new contact for an introduction.

6.  Spend 30 minutes to an hour/day gathering contacts.  If you are really busy, skip that day, but don’t skip often or you won’t get anywhere.  After a few weeks, you’ll have enough contacts to seriously use Linkedin, but never stop adding connections. (Some have thousands!)

7.  Ask key contacts to write you a brief Linkedin recommendation.  As you reacquaint yourself with past colleagues, ask them (as appropriate) if they would like you to write a Linkedin recommendation for them.

8.  Linkedin Help works rather well.  Googling your help question also works, e.g. Google “how to delete a group in Linkedin”.  Also explore linkedin.alltop.com for more help and information.

9.  Using Linkedin for a job (or consulting) search.

a.  Look up and “Follow” each of your target companies.  Try to add as many contacts as you can from each such company using the above techniques.

b.  When you find an interesting opportunity in company X, look up your contacts in X, or try to add some.  Ask such a contact for details on the position, from their perspective, who was in the position formerly, who the hiring manager is, etc.  Note that the job description might say that the position reports to “Manager of FooBar”.  Use Linkedin’s Advanced Search to find out who that is.  With no luck finding the hiring manager, you can try for an HR manager who might give you some information.

c.  Linkedin’s job listings aren’t bad, especially if you have a simple set of attributes of job titles, e.g. “program manager” or “accounting director”.  Linkedin will cleverly send you listing of similar positions.

d.  Guy Kawasaki’s famous post “Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job” on his blog is worth reading.

e. Check if your target company is still hiring.  Company pages on LinkedIn include a section called “New Hires” that lists people who have recently joined the company.  Ask these new hires how they got their new job.  At the very least examine their backgrounds to surmise what made them attractive to your target company.

Good luck,

-gayn