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Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-29-2009
My Device: Not Specified

BIS Auto-Configuration Woes

[ Edited ]

I am one of the central mail administrators at Purdue University and
we are experiencing a problem with the auto-configuration of existing
e-mail accounts using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS).

The BlackBerry Internet Service uses a feature to try and automatically
determine the correct mail server at the time of setup given only
an e-mail address.  This fails in the most insidious of ways with
our architecture.

A quick background of our setup.  We have 50,000+ accounts that
store their e-mail over a number of different physical machines.
This e-mail is accessed via IMAP or POP.  Each user gets to the
proper mail server by configuring their mail client to use a special
CNAME registered in DNS based off their username.  So, for each user,
we have created a hostname:


For example, my mail server is:


So, no matter what physical machine a user is currently located,
they get to the "right place".  We frequently move accounts for disk
balancing, performance, and maintenance reasons.  These migrations
are invisible to our users.

The exception are BlackBerry users.  As you can imagine, the number of
our users exceeds the number of physical machines, so a good portion
of the CNAMEs we create point to the same physical host.

What we see is that BIS will automatically choose a CNAME
based on *another* user for the mail server.  For me,
instead of picking "halsema.mail.purdue.edu", it might pick
"someotherguy.mail.purdue.edu".  At the time this decision is made,
both names point to the same physical host, so everything seems to

That is, until we decide to migrate one of the accounts to a new node
in our cluster.  At that point, the BlackBerry (using the incorrect
mail server based on another user) is unable to connect and informs
that the password must be incorrect and to go update it.

Unfortunately, we have infrastructure upgrades taking place soon which
will result in us migrating/shuffling about half our customers around.
The people using BlackBerry devices will stop working.

Does anyone know if it is possible to have RIM update the logic the
BIS config uses for our domain.  Quite frankly, we would be better off
if it always asked people to provide details, instead of incorrectly
choosing the wrong thing for them.  I am unable to find a contact or
way to submit a ticket on their Support & Services web page.

David A. Halsema                           Mailhub Systems Administrator
Purdue University                         



EDIT: Removed personal information

Message Edited by Andy on 01-30-2009 09:43 AM
Regular Contributor
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎04-05-2008
My Device: BlackBerry Bold 9000

Re: BIS Auto-Configuration Woes

Your case is a little complicated, and I wouldn't recommend going for the auto-configuration in your case as it is picking up the wrong CNAME. I don't see how it will be able to pick up the right CNAME automatically, unless I'm missing something.


I think it is better to have the accounts integrated manually, and make sure that you give the right CNAME for the user during the integration. This way your users will not be affected during migration.


My two cents..