To BIS Or To BES? That Is The Question.

March 17, 2009

Ok, so if you’ve never owned a BlackBerry and never looked in to purchasing one then terms like BIS, BES and BPS will sound like boring  jargon and to be honest even if you do have one it’s still boring!

It’s important to know though, that just acquiring a BlackBerry and sticking a sim card in it will not bring floods of emails to your hand, nor will it allow web browsing or even multi media messages (MMS).  In fact, without a BlackBerry data add on you will only be able to make and receive calls and text messages (SMS).

So what’s the difference then?

BlackBerry Enterprise Server – BES

First, a little history lesson; In the early days, BlackBerries were only usable by corporate companies with their own mail servers running the likes of Microsoft Exchange etc. You need a separate server to run the BlackBerry software and had to pay an arm and a leg to buy the software and licences and to have it installed by a RIM certified IT boffin. In return you got FULL synchronizationbetween Outlook and your handheld – mobile ecstasy for those that could afford it and had the technology available. They earned the nickname “CrackBerry” because top flying New York lawyers were rushing out of court in between cases to catch up on emails! It was gadget heaven – but a bloody useful gadget heaven at that.

BlackBerry Internet Service – BIS

In the mid 90s in the UK, T-Mobile launched their Instant Email system for BlackBerry using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) which used Research In Motion’s (RIM – BlackBerry manufacturers) own mail servers to send and receive mail. This meant that the Average Joe could run a BlackBerry without the need for expensive equipment and software. You could add up to 10 of your own email addresses to receive mail but the outgoing emails were always sent via the BlackBerry servers. The only downside was that it’s only email that you receive wirelessly. To sync your Outlook calendar and contacts etc you had to plug in a USB cable between your PC and the handheld. For most though, getting the emails quickly and cost effectively wherever you are in the world was enough. This service is still available from T-Mobile and has since been introduced by O2, Vodafone and recently by Orange.

BlackBerry Professional Software – BPS

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server system (BES) is still available for large corporate companies with over 30 users but a few years ago RIM introduced a new system called BlackBerry Professional Software (BPS) for people wanting the full synchronization. Unlike the BES system, BPS is a free download and covers up to 30 users. The first user licence (CAL) is included (£50 each for additional CALS at the time of writing) and the best bit is, it can be installed on the same server as Exchange or whatever mail software you use. The install can also be done by your IT guy (or company if you outsource) so you don’t have to pay over the odds to certified RIM techs. With BPS you can have full control of the BlackBerry devices being used and as well as full remote synchronization you can disable a device if it is lost or stolen and do remote back ups and restores.

The running cost of BPS is now affordable now as well. I can remember the original BES users having to pay upwards of £40 per month per user to enable the BlackBerries but BPS can be run from as little as £10 per month now!

Which is for you then?

If all you really need is email, web browsing, Facebook, Twitter etc plus calls and messaging then the BIS is ideal as it’s very affordable and there is no messing about. Set up a BlackBerry web account with your mobile network and you have full control of email set up. (It can also be done on the device itself but I prefer using the web client as it is a lot easier to use).

If you are often out of the office and need remote syncing with your Outlook diary and contacts then either BPS or BES are required and if you need less than 30 BlackBerries for your company then BPS is the most cost effective solution.

I hope this has explained a little some of the BlackBerry jargon and perhaps now you do know the difference between BIS and BES.

To find out more and to discuss how BlackBerry can benefit your business then please contact me, David Allen, at the office on 01204 595335 or via my contact form here.

David Allen


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