RIM's free server tool a fine SMB play that could be better

Summary:Research in Motion unveiled its BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, free server software that's designed to appeal to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). It's a nice move that could be better.

Research in Motion on Tuesday unveiled its BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, free server software that's designed to appeal to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). It's a nice move that could be better.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) Express connects BlackBerry devices with Microsoft Exchange or Windows Small Business Server. RIM is pitching it as an economical choice for SMBs that delivers enterprise-grade security and manageability features (Techmeme, statement). BES Express is also being pitched as a way to easily connect consumers, who bought BlackBerry devices, to corporate networks.

Also: RIM debuts new BlackBerry browser, BES Express for SMBs

BES Express connects to Microsoft Exchange 2010, 2007 and 2003 and Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2008 and 2003. Simply put, BES Express synchronizes email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks.

So what's the big picture from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona? TechRepublic's Jason Hiner and I were kicking around ideas.

Strategically, BES Express is a way to keep RIM's server tools in the SMB market. These companies will eventually grow up and stick with RIM in the future.

However, RIM's approach could be better. As Jason noted, if RIM really wanted to court SMBs and keep them as customers in the future it would offer free hosted BES for up to 25 users.

If the economics look good for BES Express just imagine how a hosted freebie would fare.

Simply put, RIM's BES Express is a good start that could be better.

Topics: Servers, BlackBerry, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Mobility, Software, Wi-Fi

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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