BlackBerry's BES mess: No more Express Server version, says RIM

BlackBerry's BES mess: No more Express Server version, says RIM

Summary: Research in Motion's message on future enterprise products is confusing. It's a mess. Here's what we've learned: small-medium sized business relying on BlackBerry freebies may not like what's coming.


ZDNet has learned that BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express 5 will be the final free version of the small-medium sized business software.

The free BES Express 5 model gave small-medium enterprises free client access licenses. But as there will be no BES Express 10, there will be no free-of-charge model. 

The Canadian smartphone giant has not yet announced pricing for BES 10, but ZDNet was told that the BES 10 server installation will be free of charge -- as is Mobile Fusion Server in its current form. However, RIM will charge for devices that connect to the server.

BES 10 and Mobile Fusion: the same thing

BES is the business and enterprise communications solution that offers secure email and messaging. Its consumer counterpart, BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) allows ordinary users to receive standard and non-enterprise grade secure email, such as Hotmail or Gmail, to their BlackBerry devices.

The BES secure messaging system remains a unique selling point for the mobile device and data infrastructure company, however ruffling the feathers of its enterprise IT spending watchdogs will hardly help the company's relations, which was recently branded as being at an all time low.

As we already know, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion Server 6 will be renamed BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) when it is launched next year, explained Jeff Holleran, senior director of RIM's Enterprise Product Management unit in a blog post.

In the process, RIM's Mobile Fusion will effectively become BES 10 when it is released simultaneously alongside the newer BlackBerry 10 devices. Mobile Fusion will 'sit' on top of other server modules that allow the administration of BES 5 devices, BES 10 devices, as well as Android and iPhones. 

RIM previously said that BES 10 will be the "ultimate management solution for all BlackBerry platform devices." 

Because BES 5 isn't forward compatible or able to manage BlackBerry 10 devices, BES 10 will only support BlackBerry 7.1 and older devices if a BES 5 server is effectively sitting in the middle acting as the 'broker' between the two BES versions.

RIM acquired Ubitexx in May 2011 for the Mobile Fusion software. It was bought as a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) addition to BlackBerry networks, but also for the intention of managing the QNX-based BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Mobile Fusion has thus far only been used to manage PlayBook tablets and not BlackBerry smartphones. 

Mobile Fusion at the moment is free to download, but there are license costs associated with it. Client access licenses for each BlackBerry device associated with the Mobile Fusion device can cost anywhere from $50 each for 1,000 or more licenses, or up to $99 each for four or fewer licenses.

Express and go: No more 'freebies'

Many organizations took advantage of the free BES Express 5 download as it has no additional charges for client devices.

RIM is quite generous with allocations, allowing for 2,000 BlackBerry smartphone users per server [PDF]. But because the Express version is not being brought forward to BES 10, enterprises will likely incur additional costs to run both newer BlackBerry 10 and legacy BlackBerry 7.1 and older devices on the same network.

When a legacy BlackBerry 7.1 or older version is retired and replaced with a BlackBerry 10 device -- before there was not license cost to connect to Express -- there will be charge to connect the new device to BES 10.

However, as there will not be a BES Express 10 version, ruling out a free secure messaging platform for small-medium sized businesses, there will no longer be a free-of-charge usage model as users enjoyed in BES 5. Instead, RIM will charge a fee for every BlackBerry 10 device connected through to BES 10.

Situation normal? Two servers needed

Enterprises and businesses considering acquiring the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones in an existing network with legacy BlackBerry 7.1 and older devices will require both BES 10 and legacy BES 5 servers to operate. 

Research in Motion clarified that it will be necessary to install separate versions of BES: a version of BES 5 for BlackBerry 7.1 and older devices that are current available, and a version of BES 10 for the newer, yet to be released BlackBerry 10 devices.

This means businesses wanting to run older BlackBerry devices and the upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices on the same network, two separate Windows Server installations will be required to run both BES 5 and BES 10. (This can mean two physical Windows Server machines, or two virtualized Windows Server installations.)

Initially the two servers would run in parallel at launch, before a service pack update in May when there would no longer be a need for two servers. The service pack will simply allow the two BES application servers to run in on the same machine without the need for two separate virtual or physical servers.

When approaching RIM about this story, a spokesperson told ZDNet (emphasis mine):

BlackBerry 10 customers of any size will have the option available to connect BlackBerry 10 devices securely, directly to their mail servers out of the box using the ActiveSync protocol. This includes management policies for users and groups.

With BlackBerry 10, we are making more connectivity options available to our customers in order to meet their diverse mobility needs, including cross-platform device management and more BYOD support with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.

We have not yet announced the roadmap for BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express.

It's our view that RIM hasn't fully thought through the impact of removing the free tiers from the whole BlackBerry 10 proposition. After all, why would you have a free Express version of a product that is already free?

Topics: Mobility, Android, Enterprise Software, iOS, BlackBerry, Smartphones

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  • cut them some slack

    The products are under development, months away from release, they`re transitioning to an entirely new OS ecosystem and you want a polished mature product today?

    Maybe you should switch to decaf and cut them some slack. How many other companies can role out a new OS and have a byod backward compatible enterprise system ready before releasing the new OS?
    • In real companies cost and complexity do matter

      In real companies cost and complexity of management, which translates to FTEs actually DO matter.
  • Well my University is saying Buh-Bye to BB/BES altogether.

    We haven't made BB devices available to faculty or staff for nearly a year now, and are quickly phasing out ALL BB devices & BES servers.

    "This means businesses wanting to run older BlackBerry devices and the upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices on the same network, two separate Windows Server installations will be required to run both BES 5 and BES 10. (This can mean two physical Windows Server machines, or two virtualized Windows Server installations.)"

    Yep...REALLY stupid. It's just one more bone-headed decision made by RIM.

    Last one out, please turn off the lights...thanks. See ya RIM.
    • Not true

      BES10 will manage older BES devices, as well as manage iOS and Android phones.
  • Totally worth giving up free BES Express

    If they add support for ActiveSync. I know a LOT of people who hate having to deal with their BES and Express servers and would much, much rather use ActiveSync. I'd gladly sacrifice BES Express for ActiveSync. And if you need the more advanced MDM then you can use BES 10, which will also support iDevice, Android and Windows Phone. Seems like a win for everyone, it's just easy to have a negative reaction if something is "going away".
    • Ubitexx?

      Check out where Gartner ranks Ubitexx vs all the real managing BYOD software out there
  • Options

    What get overlooked is RIM is giving plenty of options.

    Don't need robust management and want a cheap solution - they now use Exchange ActiveSync so all these small mobile deployments can stop whining about managing an MDM solution.

    Want to manage your Blackberry devices? Fusion will do that for legacy and new devices. Right now RIM will convert any BES 5 CAL to a BES 10 CAL so you have zero cost to support BB10 devices (outside of a new VM server).

    Want to manage iOS and Android - RIM is providing that option (and soon another one as well) for a cheaper CAL than any other MDM on the market.

    They also are providing their same secure network for all message flow. EAS is merely used for connection and sync when paired with Fusion (BDS or UDS). So it's a nice solution with lots of implementation options. What's also nice is Fusion allows a single management console across all these environments. Right now if you support Blackberry and another MDM you have multiple management points.

    I don't see what the big deal is about separate hardware? We spin up VM instances all the time and our MDM footprint right now is approaching 30 servers (all virtual). We'll soon be adding a MAM solution. Enterprise mobility is growing and has needs. I swear some people must have duct taped data centers and poor server management practices.
  • ActiveSync

    Too little too late.

    They should've thought about adding ActiveSync the same day that Apple did. Apple even made up a big thing to counter ActiveSync adoption (Jobs even called it "ActiveStink" in a keynote) until they realized that enterprises wanted it. Only after that did enterprises consider the iPhone a viable option. The iPhone wasn't really a runaway hit until Apple reversed course on this, and on the whole "3rd party apps are limited to HTML5 in Safari" mantra.
    • ActiveSync

      BB already offers ActiveSync...
  • Accelerating the death of the platform

    For years now the only reason for business to buy Blackberry devices was their messaging platform. That was worth for some to pay the premium price commanded by Blackberry devices for the otherwise inferior or even totally obsolete function set and capabilities they provided in every other regard.

    If RIM will be limiting the availability of that messaging platform by eliminating free access to it, businesses will have no more reason to buy Blackberry devices. Nobody will buy a smartphone that already costs more than all of its comptetitors that mostly have superior hardware, software and application support, just to have to pay another $100 on top of that price in the form of a BES license for the device.

    Thus with this step RIM is just accelerating the death of its already dying platform, including also all sales of their devices.
  • Wrong way to look at it

    There are over a few dozen MDM vendors out there and none of them give their software out for free. BES Express was free because RIM didn't have a way to get wireless email to BB devices when competing with BYOD iOS and Android.

    If you use a Playbook you will learn that how the ActiveSync implementation on generic Activesync without Fusion is so different than an iOS, WM or Android. BB Balance is built on to Playbook and likely bb10 devices. So for free you get Balance with work and personal data and app separation...which is huge.

    With Fusion added you also get the advanced policies and AES 256 bit encryption. BB10 will be the most work user friendly device...with the dual work and personal persona.

    The whole argument of running 2 servers is overrated - most shops who are cost concious like that are already in cloud and the one's who are on premise don't really care about setting up a new VM. So if you are small shop use ActiveSync with Balance, if you are security conscious company use Fusion with advanced policies and balance
  • Rim and BBES servers

    Zack, I'd like to see a story on this when the real information is available. A little patience and some more research might get you either a useful tech story or a proven disaster. There's neither here.
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