Research In Motion Releases Integration with Microsoft Office 365 – BlackBerry Business Cloud Services

Research In Motion (RIM) finally released its evolution of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), BlackBerry Business Cloud Services (BCS), earlier this week on January 30, 2012. BCS provides mobile device service integration with the Microsoft Office 365 hosted Exchange Service and replaces much of the functionality formerly provided by BES. This is a good move forward for RIM and extends much-needed functionality to RIM’s business customers who rely upon services like integrating email, calendar, contacts and tasks to conduct business. Better yet, the service is free compared to the quite expensive cost of BES in the past and this is a positive step forward.

The only drawback I see with the current offering is the complete lack of support for small business and individual users of Office 365. The following excerpt from the press release announcing the new service availability explains this.

“The new service was made available for free for current medium-sized or enterprise subscribers of the Office 365 suite.”

So if you have an Office 365 Enterprise Plan and more than 25 employees then your organization can move ahead with BlackBerry Cloud Services. If you’re like us and lots of other small businesses, though, you will need to continue using a workaround through third-party ActiveSync providers or calendar notifications via text message. In the meantime, I’ve been eyeing some nice Android, iOS and Windows phones.

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