As mentioned, several vendors have written client software for BlackBerry devices which allows them to use ActiveSync. This is not recommended as a long-term solution for eliminating BES, but does provide a short-term stop-gap option. Installing software on the devices essentially adds another layer of complexity which could increase support costs. As a short-term solution, however, it is worth considering.
There are several MDM platforms, such as Zenprise, Mobile Iron, AirWatch or Good Technology, that can serve as a replacement for BES. Zenprise, Mobile Iron and AirWatch do not attempt to add any extra mobile support to Exchange server -- they simply integrate with Exchange and ActiveSync. The Good Technology platform, meanwhile, appears to impose an additional load on Exchange Sever much the way BES does. This can be attributed to the fact that Good Technology has created a container for the email client which alters the way the ActiveSync protocol is implemented. There is even less information available about how Good Technology impacts Exchange server. The generally agreed-upon number is a two to three times greater load than a normal Outlook user.
Migrating to ActiveSync devices is a very good alternative because it imposes the least amount of impact on the end user and lowest operational cost for IT departments. Also, migrating off BES frees up Exchange Server to support more users as a company grows.
RIM has become the de facto standard over the years when it comes to enterprise mobile messaging. However, the use of middleware to enable BlackBerry devices to access the Exchange server is a costly and overly complex solution that introduces a lot of risk factors. With new technologies emerging that offer better functionality and better service levels, many companies are considering a move away from BES.
When planning a migration off BES, consider the alternatives described above. Choosing the one best aligned to your environment will enable your organization to maintain support for BlackBerry devices, provide maximum uptime and functionality for users, and lower overall costs for mobile messaging.
Azaleos is a provider of managed services for Exchange (and other Microsoft UC servers), and Lee Dumas a Microsoft Certified Architect.
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