Jun 29, 2009

Bypass MDS on Blackberry Devices

The other day I was told by one of our senior Systems Administrators that I needed to perform an upgrade to the latest version of Blackberry Enterprise Server within a few days to help us move to Microsoft Exchange 2007. We were running BES 4.1.4 fine, but apparently it isn’t supported with Exchange 2007.

No problem I thought, I checked the online documentation on the Blackberry Website. I canned Blackberry support to pick their brain, and to check my stuff to make sure there wouldn’t be any issues. After I was satisfied, I went ahead and backed up the VM that my BES is running on, took a snapshot of it as well, and backed up the SQL database. Yeah, perhaps I was a little over cautious, but Blackberry is one of the high profile killer apps at my company. I couldn’t afford failure.

I decided to go the in place upgrade route. It is was easier than the cutover process. The install for 5.0 was pretty smooth, and everything worked fairly well. Or so I thought.

The very next day I noticed that I couldn’t browse the internet any more. I would get an error saying:

A communication failure occurred with the selected Mobile Data Service. The server may be busy, please try again later. If the problem persists, contact your administrator.

Hmm, that didn’t sound good. I quickly logged into my BES, and saw that the Blackberry MDS Connection Service was stopped. I thought it would be a simple fix. I started the service and pow! Nope! The service would start, then after about five minutes it would stop.

I checked the BES log files and saw some of this awesomeness:

General Error connecting to the database.: application.handler.ldap.DEFAULT_PRT

Now, this whole time, everyone could send and receiveAT-T-BLACKBERRY-CURVE emails, they just couldn’t access the internet through the MDS service. I called Blackberry support. They had me check some stuff, but after a while they were stumped and escalated the issue to their developers. GREAT! Now what am I supposed to do when the users come calling?

I’ll tell you what I had my users do. This of course is a workaround until Blackberry can get back to me with a permanent solution, but hey it works. I had my users perform the following on their devices:

  • Go to Options>Advanced Options> Browser
  • Change the Default Browser Configuration to use Internet Browser
  • Press the menu key, and save the change
  • On the main screen, open the browser
  • Press the menu button and select Bookmarks
  • Highlight your first bookmark, press the menu key and select edit bookmark
  • Change the browser option to Internet Browser and accept the change
  • Do that to any other bookmarks you may have.
  • Once complete, try to browse the internet on your device.

Using The Internet Browser instead of the Blackberry Browser sends your users web traffic out across the carrier’s network, instead of back through your BES. This is actually fine for us as we don’t have any internet policies enforced for our mobile users anyway. If you do though, then this may still be a good temporary solution until you can get your stuff fixed.

Have any of you experienced problems with the MDS service on BES 5.0MR1? Did you fix it? Care to hook a brutha up? Let me know in the comments!

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