In RIM's never ending ability to shoot themselves in the foot with their strange decisions on products and release dates, BlackBerry Enterprise Express for Domino has finally hit the streets. Some 6 months after the Microsoft Exchange version we have a pretty good solution for companies looking for BES style access with BIS style pricing. And it even supports Domino 8.5.2 to boot (well, kind of). However, for 6 months RIM have all but ceded the lower end of the mobile market to IBM Lotus Notes Traveler and Good. We also have RIMs inability to create a device anyone actually wants further pushing organizations to Nokia,  iPhone and Android, and again to Traveler and Good. Still I think this is a good move for RIM, IBM and especially customers.

Now for RIM's shot in the foot. The installation of BES-EXP is not supported on a server that hosts email files (at least that is how the doc seems to read and seems to be confirmed at various places on RIMs site). Nor does it seem that 8.5.2 is a supported "email server" or a partitioned server. Let's just say the system requirements document is a tad confusing in places. Oh, and you will need to enable DIIOP on the Domino server (ahem, cough, LDAP anyone?).

This whole dedicated server thing is really killing SMB customers off. This is not just RIM, but more IBM. Can you run Quickr on a mail server? Sametime (eek!)? And with Foundations as a hardware appliance being killed off I don't see this getting rectified.

The big selling point (well, BES-EXP free so maybe not) is the ability to forgo what I call the "RIM tax" on your devices. BES-EXP will work with most personal data plans (read BIS) and there is no need to purchase BES CALs for it. The catch? You only get 75 IT policies. As can a "full" BES, BES-EXP can handle up to 2,000 users but I see no reason why you can't install multiple BES-EXP servers if you need more than that. Oh and no BlackBerry Mobile Voice, Sametime, Quickr or Connections either. Oh, and you save $4,000 on the purchase of a "full" BES. The only real issue I see here is Sametime. I know a lot of organizations use the mobile component for Sametime, but I would guess using the admittedly crappy IBM version of Sametime client will probably work as is. Just a theory as I haven't tried it, but a pretty good guess.

There is no denying the value here, and RIM, as have IBM with Traveler, have done an amazing job of packing features into the platform the costs the user $0. See the full comparison chart for further details on the differences and you can have "full" BES and BES-EXP in the same environment. They can even use the same SQL BESMgmt database.

One has to wonder about RIMs purported strangle hold on enterprises though. Every week we see customers asking about iPads, Androids and other "cool phones". I agree that RIM lead on security and management but that is a top down selling point. Disruptive technologies like the iPhone and iPad are bottom up and RIM seem to miss this fact year in year out. I hope for the sake of  RIM that the Playbook is not to the iPad what the Storm was to the iPhone. Maybe the time is right for BlackBerry to resurrect the BlackBerry Connect product of old.

Anyway, if you want a modern BES that is free, functional, allows HTML emails to be viewed on the device (the big killer of BPS) and has no "RIM Tax" on it, then this is for you. Go get it at
Darren Duke   |   November 7 2010 07:22:21 AM   |    bes    |  
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1 - Mark Roosevelt    11/07/2010 12:54:25 PM

Darren, I know (having sat through your delightful chats a few times) that you have a laundry list of considerations/reservations re: Domino on VMware, but I wanted to add that the Sys Req document you refer to does mention VMware support in passing on page 11. I've heard from several sources that RIM run(s) 60% of its BES infrastructure on VMware, so a two VM deployment on sufficient hardware might get around the two server requirement and still result in a relatively stable environment. I have truble imagining a company with more than 50 users wanting to run Domino mail and BES on the same box anyway, but this approach could enable it. What is not clear in the doc is if BES Express will run on "free" VMware. All that said, in the interest of full disclosure, I was a Crackberry addict -- until I got my Android and Traveler. No going back once you've tried Google Sky Maps!

M (@cloudscapers on Twitter)