Office 365 and BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express

We are looking into installing the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express as a temporary solution for BlackBerry mail, calendar, contact and task synchronization with Office 365 until RIM begins offering its hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express solution later in 2011. I have a workaround in place right now to use text messaging for daily calendar notifications instead of syncing but this is only a temporary solution.

Does anyone have experience installing the  BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express internally and using it in a hybrid cloud model with Office 365? Judging from the FAQs for the solution it should work well for our needs but it looks like the system requirements are not set up for a hybrid cloud model. Am I chasing a pipe dream here?

EDIT (July 9, 2011): It doesn’t look like it’s possible to set up a hybrid cloud with BES hosted internally and accessing hosted Exchange on Office 365. I asked a similar question on the Office 365 Community forum and received confirmation from a Microsoft forum moderator that “BES (in its current, non-cloud version) is not going to be supported in O365.” Check out the conversation at http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/146/p/7114/29065.aspx. I will update this post if anything changes and when the cloud service BES is available later this year from RIM.

5 Comments

  1. As long as your mailbox is on-premise you can use BES/BES-Express on-premise as well. What some customers are doing is setting up rich co-existence and migrating non-Blackberry accounts to Office 365, while leaving Blackberry accounts on the on-premise Exchange and BES environment. This is a co-existence model, leveraging ADFS, AD-Synch & the Exchange 2010 Co-Existence Server role (which you would need to migrate anyhow). You can turn on archiving and even sync the on-premise mailboxes with O365, so that you are ready to migrate once BES-Online works with O365.

    Some of our clients also went to BPOS for the free BES, knowing that they would migrate BPOS-to-Office365 once BES-Online is available (a two step process).

    Alternatively, you can search for and find Exchange ActiveSync apps for the Blackberry, and effectively move off of BES and use ActiveSync on the BB instead. This has proven to be very effective and provides the rich features you are used to…

    • Jason Cox

      Thanks for the great insight and recommendations, Brian, and we’ll give the ActiveSync apps for BlackBerry a shot. I’ll update the comments on this post to let you know how it works.

      • Jason Cox

        I trialed the AstraSync ActiveSync product for BlackBerry (http://astrasync.com/) for seven days to look for a solution to my calendar, contact and task synchronization issues with my BB Storm 2 and Office 365. I spent several hours the first night I trialed trying to finish the installation of AstraSync on my BB but kept running into issues and having to restart the entire download and installation process.

        In the end I got frustrated after I installed it but couldn’t activate it and get synchronization working with my BB. I sent a support note off late that night and received a prompt response with guidance so the support is great. However, I had already made the decision at that point to switch platforms as the added overhead of yet another external app to manage is just not worth it.

        Thanks again for your suggestions, Brian, and I think there might be a good fit for products like AstraSync where a person has a long-term contract for BlackBerry service. In our case we can switch to another platform soon so it’s time to say goodbye to BlackBerry.

  2. Jason,
    try NotifySync…it works for real and…they have a support centre that can help 😉
    http://notifylink.euops.net

  3. Jason Cox

    I put together a new blog post about BES and Office 365 and it looks like it will be Q4 of 2011 before a final solution is released from RIM. Check out more at http://blog.webactivedirectory.com/2011/08/15/rim-gets-closer-to-cloud-based-blackberry-enterprise-service-bes-for-office-365/.

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