RIM, Good Technology push to get mobile e-mail rolling
GoodLink, BES solutions locked in a fierce competition to become the de facto wireless workforce enabler
BES has complete control of the proprietary BlackBerry device, so its security policies apply to the entire device rather than just the messaging client software. This method has its advantages -- for example, if a unit goes missing, an admin can send a priority kill command that erases all data and disables the device. GoodLink Server can erase the GoodLink messaging client’s data remotely, but this doesn’t affect the device’s ability to operate as a phone or to examine content that has been copied out of GoodLink.
The Paths Diverge
The installation process for GoodLink Server is onerous, requiring several manual steps and the navigation of strict rules about which software may run on which servers. In contrast, BES uses a familiar unified installer; when you choose a “typical” configuration, it’s load and go.
BES also includes three significant features that GoodLink Server lacks: MDS (Mobile Data Services), wireless reconciliation, and server-based attachment processing.
MDS establishes an independent conduit through which arbitrary data can be pushed to and exchanged with clients. In its simplest configuration, MDS allows users controlled access to dynamic intranet services that are not only repositories for files and documents, but also interactive channels for the exchange of task-specific data. Custom development on the BlackBerry client side is accelerated by the platform’s use of Java and RIM’s free and complete set of development tools.
GoodLink offers a less robust MDS counterpart, called GoodLink Forms. GoodLink Forms integrates with the GoodLink client’s asynchronous delivery mechanism: A submitted form is delivered when the user is in range, and the server’s response is queued and sent as any other message. It is easy to use and highly functional, but its scope is far more limited than that of MDS.
Wireless reconciliation is an optional BES feature that gives handhelds the ability to delete and move Exchange messages, files, and folders, and to have those changes synchronized to an Exchange account. GoodLink supports synchronization of Outlook e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes between devices and Exchange, although this feature wasn't available in the hosted implementation I tested. Wireless reconciliation could be considered dangerous, but it’s an option I use consistently. When I delete my old messages, it means I don’t ever want to see them again.
Handling attachments is another point of differentiation, and one I consider significant. GoodLink downloads binary e-mail attachments in their entirety and launches a separate client viewer. For the Treo 600, Good Technologies sent me a trial edition of Documents To Go from DataViz that views (and, remarkably, edits) Word and Excel documents.
As nice as this is, I prefer BES’s approach, which makes much better use of bandwidth, limited memory, and the devices’ small displays. When you ask to view an attachment, BES tears the file apart on the server and renders it as an XML-based SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) standard document. Through one SVG viewer, BES displayed PowerPoint, PDF, Word, Excel, and text attachments very clearly on the BlackBerry 7230’s anti-aliased color display. Anything that can be rendered as SVG can be delivered this way as small, scalable, easily compressed files that transmit efficiently and are suitable for saving with a message.
BES’ Extra Efforts