InfoWorld review: BlackBerry Enterprise Server, express or deluxe?

Extensive BlackBerry Enterprise Server will be indispensable to some, but free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express is good enough for most

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Both BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express automate operating system and application updates, but BES has additional tools to make the whole software management process more reliable. That's because you can check for any software dependencies that need to be installed first. It's even possible to trigger a software upgrade based on a device's hardware or wireless carrier. For instance, if you have a BlackBerry Storm 2 user on Verizon, you could specify a Verizon-specific version of BlackBerry OS 5 for the Storm to be installed. Again, that sort of precision isn't available with Express.

In both editions, application and IT policy updates can be pushed during off-peak hours to minimize disruptions to users. While BlackBerry Enterprise Server allows devices to be activated over the air, initial provisioning is a manual process in BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express. But with the Web Desktop Manager, users can handle it by themselves.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server also has high-availability features that Express lacks. For instance, you can configure primary and standby servers for automatic and manual failover -- which could keep downtime to a minimum when there's a hardware problem or during server upgrades. (There are no additional licensing fees for servers running in standby mode.)

Working in concert with failover, BES 5.0.1 adds system health checks. For example, you can create a certain performance threshold. If that measurement is exceeded, the failover to the backup server automatically occurs.

Both flavors of BlackBerry Enterprise Server do a very good job of providing BlackBerry users with secure, wireless access to email and documents behind the firewall, and the Web-based interface minimizes the workload of IT administrators. For personally liable BlackBerry devices that only require access to an Exchange server and where a basic set of security policies is adequate, Express will do the trick. But when your support staff has to manage thousands of devices or when email to mobile executives absolutely positively must never stop flowing, then BlackBerry Enterprise Server is the only choice.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server versus BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express

Cost Platforms Bottom Line
BlackBerry Enterprise Server $3,299 for server software and 50 client licenses; volume discounts available Works with Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino, or Novell GroupWise; runs on Windows Server 2000 or later and Microsoft SQL Server BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5 combines Web-based administration, over-the-air device provisioning, granular control with 450 IT policies, and a host of high-availability features required by large enterprises.
BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express Free Works with Exchange Server 2010, 2007, and 2003 and Windows Small Business Server 2008 or 2003 Small and medium-size businesses needing to give their BlackBerry users secure access to Microsoft Exchange e-mail and internal documents can't go wrong with the no-cost BES Express.

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