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BIS, BES, and BlackBerry Services for Office 365

The BlackBerry is a critical business phone for many corporations, due in part, to the extra security and corporate management facilities that come with the BlackBerry service. However there are some issues when using the BlackBerry with Office 365. For example, many have found that in order to get the best experience with the Office 365 offering, users really do need to upgrade their BlackBerry to the latest OS. In this video Hong Ha, Technical director of Lanix UK Limited, talks about what the core BlackBerry services BIS, BES, and BBCS provide the Office 365 user.

BlackBerry Internet Services or BIS, is a basic service designed for individuals and small businesses. BIS allows Blackberry smartphone users to access the Internet and to configure their device to retrieve emails. The service is usually provisioned through a mobile phone service provider, however it is actually run by Research in Motion (RIM).

BIS retrieves emails from mail servers including your Office 365 exchange server by periodically polling POP3 or IMAP servers for new mail and then pushes these emails to the BlackBerry smartphone. BIS does however have some limitations:-

  • No wireless sync of Calendar, Contacts or Memos.
  • No centralised policies can be deployed.
  • No Remote Wipe - Until recently released in a Blackberry protect update.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is a middleware software package that is part of the Blackberry wireless platform from RIM. The software and service connects to messaging and collaboration software, such as MS Exchange, Lotus Domino, Novell GroupWise and redirects email and synchronises contacts and calenders. Some of the BES features includes:-

  • Full Push technology
  • Full Wireless Sync of emails, contacts, calendars, memo's and tasks.
  • Full suite of IT Policies to regulate user permissions and third-party applications.
  • Remote Lock and Wipe.

Blackberry Enterprise Server - Express

BES Express is a free version of BES designed for the smaller business and will support up to 2,000 users on a dedicated server. Only 75 IT Policies are supported as opposed to full 250+ policies on the full version. It works with cheaper BIS service packs, albeit with no wireless activation of handheld devices.

The problem with BES and BES express is that neither provide users with any of the synchronisation facilities mentioned, should users be using the Office 365 Exchange email server. In order to support these users and businesses you will need the BlackBerry Business Cloud Services.

The BlackBerry Business Cloud Services (BBCS) are an affordable way for companies to manage BlackBerry smartphones with MS Office 365. The service is available at no charge to Office 365 subscribers and is hosted by RIM. The service directly links the Office 365 Exchange online server with BlackBerry smartphones to offer reliable mobile access to sync email, calendar, personal contacts, tasks and memos.

In typical BlackBerry fashion, corporate security is of the utmost importance and so all communication between Office 365 and the BlackBerry device must be handled by the BBCS Cloud which is protected with its own firewalls (as is the Office 365 side).

Hence when you are sending an email from the Office 365 portal to a BlackBerry and from a BlackBerry device to an Office 365 user, it must go via the BBCS cloud.

The BlackBerry Business Cloud Services is a great way to connect your BlackBerry to Office 365. Although the service doesn't have the full functionality of BES, it does have the majority of components and what's more is free to Office 365 users.

Other Office 365 and BlackBerry articles in this series include:

A definitive guide on how to download and install a BlackBerry Lync Client

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