Prior to BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry owners connected via BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) or BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and special provisioned accounts were required on US wireless carriers. This policy appealed to carriers due to smart data management, to consumers because data was also minimized, and to businesses because they had full control over BlackBerry devices. However, the requirement for BIS or BES prevented me from fully embracing BlackBerry as a mobile platform as I will explain below. Thankfully, BlackBerry 10 now gives you complete flexibility for connectivity that includes BIS and BES if you or your company desires that.
FYI, BIS was setup through BlackBerry (previously known as RIM) and your wireless carrier. BES requires your company to have BlackBerry servers setup for employee access.
CrackBerry posted a good breakdown of available plan options and as you can see you can pick up a new BlackBerry 10 device and simply pop in your existing smartphone or BlackBerry SIM to connect. Let's take a closer look at the options BlackBerry 10 owners now have.
BlackBerry 10 with BIS
If you already have a BlackBerry with a BIS then I understand you can continue with that same plan on a BlackBerry 10 device. However, to buy a new BlackBerry 10 device you will not be required to purchase a special provisioned BIS plan. I am not clear on how BIS will work on BlackBerry 10 yet since we still have a month or more until BB10 devices hit US carriers.
I work for a small marine consulting firm in Seattle with 71 employees and we do not have a BES. Thus, when I tried using a BlackBerry from T-Mobile with BIS in the past I had a limited experience that drove me crazy. Company email worked through OWA (still not perfect), but calendar and contact syncing worked through a direct cable connection. There were also restrictions on the amount of data and forms of accessible data (YouTube video limitations).
BlackBerry 10 with Exchange ActiveSync
A couple years ago my company added an Exchange server that gave employees access via mobile devices. Our company has a full BYOD policy for smartphones with the majority using iPhones, a couple Android users, and a couple Windows Phone users. No one has uses a BlackBerry due to the limitations of BIS. With a small IT staff, BYOD smartphone policy, and no user requests for BlackBerry devices we have not been interested in investing in a BES.
I enjoyed using the BlackBerry PlayBook with Exchange ActiveSync and was seriously hoping this would extend to BlackBerry 10. After getting the Z10 in hand and going through the account setup, I was thrilled to see EAS supported out of the box. My email, calendar, tasks, and memos now sync wirelessly on the Z10.
BlackBerry 10 with BES 10
BlackBerry 10 continues to offer the ultimate BlackBerry experience through the BES. One major feature of BlackBerry 10 is BlackBerry Balance. BlackBerry Balance gives you the flexibility to use just one smartphone for business and pleasure by completely separating your data between these two worlds. You can have different email, documents, and apps associated for work and private. We have seen some things from others that let you switch skins between work and private life, but BlackBerry Balance looks to go way beyond that and provide a completely separate experience. Boeing is a major company in the Seattle area and I know many people that are issued BlackBerry devices for this company, yet still carry a separate iPhone or Android device for their personal phone. BlackBerry 10 looks to finally allow these people to have a single device for both worlds. Unfortunately, I am unable to test out BlackBerry Balance since it requires a BES.
I understand that BES gives businesses the most secure and optimal experience, but not every company is interested in investing in a BES. Exchange provides some level of security as well and for small businesses that do not issue or manage smartphones employees have the option to bring a smartphone running any modern mobile operating system. As my fellow employees see me using the BlackBerry Z10 and the connectivity option with EAS, I may see more adopt BlackBerry and maybe in the future we might even hook up a BES.