One other option is BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), which provides BlackBerry users access to mail from the Outlook Web App without requiring connection to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. This is the option provided to Office 365 beta customers, with Microsoft saying, "BlackBerry device users will need to use BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) for the beta; there is no Hosted BlackBerry service available as part of the beta."
Boxrud, the director of enterprise infrastructure at Underwriters Laboratories, is adopting Exchange for the first time with Office 365 as his company migrates from IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino.
"We'll be ready to migrate [to Office 365] by June 1 and hopefully Microsoft will be able to offer it in general availability shortly thereafter," he said.
Boxrud is excited about Office 365 overall, but added that "the biggest negative is integration with BlackBerry."
Underwriters Laboratories has a mitigation strategy in place, using AstraSync to provide Exchange ActiveSync connectivity to BlackBerrys. The "silver lining," Boxrud says, is that this has spurred his organization to start moving its 1,200 BlackBerry users to newer platforms such as iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7, which also connect via Exchange ActiveSync.
"We're going to give them a choice where they didn't have it before," Boxrud says.
One question is why Microsoft and RIM simply don't use the same email connection technology in Office 365 that's used in Microsoft's current hosted Exchange service, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).
The explanation given by the companies is that BPOS, which runs Exchange 2007, uses the MAPI messaging protocol, and Office 365, which will run Exchange 2010, upgrades to Exchange Web Services. With BPOS, Microsoft hosts BlackBerry Enterprise servers in its own data centers, according to Holleran, but with the launch of Office 365 the two companies will move to a "business-to-business cloud" model with the RIM cloud connecting to the Microsoft cloud.
Exchange Web Services is more "latency tolerant" than MAPI, Holleran explains. For these reasons, the method of connecting BlackBerrys to Exchange Online in BPOS will not be carried over to Office 365.