In addition, the Windows Phone is enjoying a bit of resurgence. Now users have more choices when it comes to the types of devices that can connect to Exchange. Generous ActiveSync licensing also makes moving away from BES an attractive option. Typical Exchange server licensing provides the required licenses to support ActiveSync clients for an entire enterprise.
Furthermore, independent software vendors like AstraSync and NotifySync have created ActiveSync clients that run on BlackBerry devices, giving people even more choices when it comes to how they connect to Exchange. However, not all ActiveSync clients are created equal. It is not uncommon for the ActiveSync protocol to be implemented incorrectly by a product vendor. This can create increased loads and downtime. When determining which protocol to support, the ActiveSync Logo program is a good place to start.
There are a number of solutions that can be utilized to replace BES, not all of which require abandoning BlackBerry devices.
Mobile Fusion was announced last year, but has not shipped yet. It is scheduled to be available in March of this year. Mobile Fusion is a mobile device management (MDM) platform that aims to extend the asset management, configuration, security policy and centralized management functions of BES to all mobile operating systems. However, Mobile Fusion appears to introduce the same single point of failure that plagues BES, and may just end up being too little too late overall for RIM in the MDM space.
Recently RIM and Microsoft announced a new service called the BlackBerry Cloud that enables BlackBerry devices to use Office 365. RIM will be hosting services in their data centers that integrate with Microsoft servers to provide wireless messaging to subscribers of the BlackBerry Cloud. IT admins should perform their due diligence before moving to a system that has multiple single points of failure, requires them to work with two different support organizations (Microsoft and RIM), and relies on a second cloud service (Office 365) which has experienced its own downtime and customer satisfaction issues. [Also see: "Developers welcome RIM's BBX roadmap"]