BlackBerry BES Small Business Edition – Where to Go Next

We hadn’t planned for 16 users. Several years ago when given the task to provide BlackBerry and other mobile device support, it was only planned for executive and IT users.  I cycled through several products over the years, including ones that supported Palm devices, but spent the last couple years managing a single BlackBerry BES SBE server.  This version has a 15 user license limit, which was a non-issue up until recently. However, the broader adoption of mobile devices smart phones has lead to our office being more willing to supply those devices to other staffers and recently I’ve gotten the request that has put me over the mark for our existing server.
BlackBerry offers two options for those in my situation – A) Upgrade to the full BES edition (Enterprise) or B) Switch to BES Express.  (There is also a hosted service available, but I’m only considering in-house services at this time.) Some pros and cons are as follows:
  • PROS: Easier upgrade path from SBE, no need to wipe and reactivate devices. 
  • CONS: There is a cost of about $2600 depending on where you get your server license; only supports devices with enterprise data plans.
  • PROS: Free; supports up to 75 users when installed on the mail server, supports more users when installed on separate server; supports devices with enterprise or personal data plans.
  • CONS: No migration or upgrade path from SBE or PRO editions of BES, but can be run in conjunction with an existing server; devices will need to be wiped and reconfigured for the new server.
For my scenario, I can’t justify the additional expense of a server OS to run Express separately to support extra users, even if my goal is to eventually migrate my SBE users over time.  Keeping two Blackberry servers is simply overkill for 16 users.  Wiping devices is painful for end users and a headache I don’t plan to go looking for.
While there are upgrade costs associated with going to the Enterprise version, its a one time change that will likely be cheaper in the long run once the costs of my time and the extra management that comes with an additional server is taken into consideration.  Guess it’s time for me to place that software order…
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