Quite a few readers have sent over a ZDnet article titled “BlackBerry’s BES mess: No more Express Server version, says RIM” about RIM possibly killing off their free BES Express. Jeff Holleran, RIM’s Senior Director for Enterprise Product Management, has more or less confirmed this many times in his comments on his original post about BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. Specifically Jeff Holleran has stated that:
With the move to ActiveSync we are able to serve the needs of the market that the BES Express product was developed for without the need of a server.
To me that means BES Express is dead for a very good reason. Companies that just installed BES Express to get push email and Full PIM Sync will now get that on BlackBerry 10 with ActiveSync. The only question I had about BlackBerry 10 ActiveSync compared to BES Express is Notes and Tasks sync. Most ActiveSync devices including Android and iOS do not sync notes and tasks over ActiveSync but the protocol does support it. Jeff has clarified that we should:
Stay tuned for more information on Notes & Tasks. We are continuously working with our partners to provide the best possible experience to our users.
I have seen from the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha that they already have toggles in ActiveSync showing Tasks and Notes sync but we cannot access those apps. My educated guess is that they are supported.
The main place I can see a gap between ActiveSync on BlackBerry 10 and BES Express is the behind the network always on VPN access and the ability to push out applications. Neither of those are offered on any other platform natively though BlackBerry 10 will support VPN access just like the other main platforms. The ability to push out applications is not something easily done in BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 because that is now managed through App World. Its also worth noting that the IT Policies available in BES Express are also mostly replicated in the ActiveSync security policies.
In short ActiveSync on BlackBerry 10 will have feature parity for most of the BES Express functions companies are using. On the flip side it has a huge benefit of not requiring a server to be installed in house which opens the door for wider adoption. This is a good thing! If companies need the added security or features then they definitely should invest in the BlackBerry 10 Enterprise Service licenses. The server will be free like Mobile Fusion and licenses are rumored to range from $50-99 per managed device. I have also heard rumors of a free or lower priced CAL tier that allows you to pipe ActiveSync through a free installation of BlackBerry 10 Enterprise Service without the MDS. That is the difference between what RIM now calls BlackBerry Mobile Fusion Managed and BlackBerry Mobile Fusion with Mobile Data Services. (More here)
Any more questions?