For the past few years, RIM has offered BlackBerry Professional Software to SMB customers as an alternative to BlackBerry Enterprise Server. BPS was more or less a watered down version of BES (latest version was 4.1.4) with a hard limit of 30 users. The server software was free, and included 1 CAL, and you could add up to 29 additional users by adding BES CALs. Sadly, RIM killed the project a while ago, and while BES kept getting service packs and new features, BPS was starting to get stale. My biggest pet peave was that BPS did not support Server 2008 (which was a big problem for SBS 2008 customers).
RIM just announced BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, which seems to be the replacement for BPS (and I can’t even find BPS on www.blackberry.com anymore). It won’t be released until next month, but as far as I can tell, it is basically BPS with a new name, and the following features added:
- 30 user limit has been increased to 75 (or 2000+ if installed on dedicated server)
- Works with *BIS and BES data plans, software and CALs seem to be free
- Remote file access (Windows Shared folders)
- Support for SBS 2008 and Exchange 2010
- Web-based administration
This means that the BlackBerry solution for SMB customers will be ABSOLUTELY FREE. There is no cost for the software, and CALs are even free. Also, no longer will end users need the enterprise data plan, which most carriers charge an extra $10/month per line for. This will mean new features and a much lower cost for SMB customers!
*EDIT: I just read on the BES Express documentation that a BES data plan is needed for wireless enterprise activation, as well as: “Over-the-air (OTA) updates require a BlackBerry Enterprise data plan.” This means BIS users will need an updated data plan if they want to stay wireless