At approximately 7:00 pm EST last night, BlackBerry began experiencing a worldwide outage across all carriers. Their network has been somewhat restored, but they are still dealing with various delays and outages.
There are conflicting reports on regarding the geographic locations of this outage - Computer World is reporting that the outage only affects North America while discussions at BlackBerry Forums suggest that this may be a world wide issue.
Update - most of the BlackBerry service is now back up and running, but some customers may experience delays as the company processes the backlog of e-mails. Millions of customers in the Western hemisphere were without the use of their BlackBerry devices for 9 hours Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. A system failure knocked out service and e-mail delivery was delayed or intermittent. Even after the initial problem was resolved customers still experienced delays due to the large amount of emails in their systems that needed to be processed.
This is a perfect example of why more and more businesses are thinking about hosting their messaging systems externally. Some hosting companies alerted their customers to the problem early and the solution/interaction with RIM happened automatically in the background. They also pointed their customers to a readily available workaround that few IT departments were aware of or had deployed.