06:45 PM

BlackBerry Backup Plan

Faced with a possible legal order to shut down its BlackBerry service in the United States, Research In Motion last week released details of a workaround designed to keep the wireless E-mail service operating. That means IT managers with hundreds of BlackBerry users need to prepare for software testing and upgrades.

RIM says it has developed and tested software called the BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition. Should the federal court rule in favor of NTP's patent claims, existing customers will be able to download the software from RIM's Web site. The plan also calls for RIM to load the multimode software on new devices and servers before they ship.

Software will keep BlackBerry addicts happy, RIM says

Software will keep BlackBerry addicts happy, RIM says

If the legal problems go away, the new software will operate in the "standard mode" with no changes. If RIM gets hit with an injunction, the software will switch into the "U.S. mode," which will sidestep the patent problems that prompted the court case. RIM will activate the U.S. mode from its network operations center.

Whether the new software ever sees the light of day may be decided on Feb. 24, when U.S. District Judge James Spencer is expected to rule on whether RIM's alleged patent violations require it to shut down the BlackBerry service.

Customers just want enough time to test the new software before deployment. "My hope," says Steve Novak, CIO at law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which has about 1,500 BlackBerry users, "is that adequate time would be provided to test and migrate my existing user base to the new processing model without service disruption."

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