Blackberry without BES?

Blackberries are great but BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) can be an Exchange administrators nightmare..   One example being the significant load that BES can place on an Exchange Server.  As an example, a Blackberry device synchronising via BES version 4 would place two to four times the equivalent load of an Outlook user on your mailbox role servers.  This is significant particularly when you consider the I\O your storage subsystem has to then sustain.    For example, if you were planning to deploy 4,000 mailboxes per mailbox role server but 50% of those mailboxes are associated with a Blackberry device then you might need to size for up to the equivalent of 12,000 mailboxes..

Of course a number of factors influence this load including how each device is used and the version of BES that you’ve deployed.  BES 5.0 (Argon) is not far away I believe and I’m not sure how this changes the game but suffice to say for the moment it’s very important to account for Blackberry device usage when you design for Exchange 2007 and BES is likely to have a significant impact on your design and its cost.

...and just for comparison Microsoft's Exchange synchronisation protocol; Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) is considered to have an extremely light load. As a guide you would not need to take EAS into account when sizing for storage and I\O against the mailbox role servers. Of course you would consider the impact on CAS of a large EAS estate but the actual impact would be relatively minor. Current guidance suggests that a single EAS device would place a similar load as an Outlook client (OA for example) on CAS.

So a combination of a Blackberry device synchronising via EAS sounds like the perfect combination and has been possible for a while now, but I’ve never seen it so I had a dig around and found a couple of solutions that might be worth looking at:

  1. NotifyLink for Microsoft Exchange from Notify Technology
  2. ActiveSync for Blackberry from AstraSync

And if it was me this is what I’d be looking out for?

  • How do you manage the devices?  How does it work if presumably there is no on-premise hardware?
  • Security – can you apply security policies and if so are all the policies you want to use applicable?
  • What’s the impact on battery life
  • Functionality – do I get the full functionality I’m looking for?
  • How do the costs compare with BES hardware, deployment and licenses?

So in conclusion I’m really not sure if it is a viable solution but in the current environment any way to reduce costs has got to improve your chances of getting any IT project approved – have a look at some more ideas here.