Microsoft Exchange Online & Blackberry


Microsoft BPOS, the online versions of Exchange, Sharepoint et al has offered a Hosted Blackberry service for around 12 months now and it’s been pretty popular. The vast majority of organizations that use Exchange also use RIM’s Blackberry’s so offering them a way to push that off to the cloud certainly made the adoption of Exchange Online an even easier deal to sell. It was a pretty cost effective solution too, at £6/$10 per user per month.

As BPOS is soon transitioning to Office 365, with new versions of the MS software available in the cloud, there is also a change happening to the Blackberry service…well actually two changes.

1) The service will move over to be hosted, managed & supported by RIM.

2) The monthly cost is changing to £0/$0

That’s right, the service is going to become a free value add from Microsoft and not only that, it will be better than the current offering! From an email Microsoft sent to customers and partners this morning:

“administrators will be able to create and manage more device policies, change device passwords and settings, and search across large numbers of BlackBerry users at one time.”

The monthly cost is also changing for current customers right now, enabling them to take advantage of the zero cost straight away. This is a significant cost saving for companies, as an example – an organization with 150 Blackberry users would look like this:

£6 x 12 months x 150 users = £10,800 per annum

This move from Microsoft instantly saves almost £11,000 a year in the example above, and 150 BB users isn’t a particularly large installation either. Companies could/should use that money to invest in other areas of infrastructure…they could add Sharepoint Online for those users and still have nearly a 50% saving!

Current Customers

Current Blackberry Online subscriptions are being terminated on June 30, 2011 so if you’re currently using the Blackberry Online Service, there are steps that must be taken to ensure continuous service.

  1. Log in to Microsoft Online: Go to the Microsoft Online Customer Portal and log into your Microsoft Online account.
  2. Locate the Hosted BlackBerry service offer: Click Manage Subscription, choose an active BPOS or Exchange Online subscription*, select Buy Hosted BlackBerry from the Actions dropdown, and click Go.
    * This can be the same BPOS or Exchange Online subscription with which Hosted Blackberry was last purchased.
  3. Checkout: In the Shopping Cart, enter your total required number of Hosted BlackBerry seats** and accept the Hosted Blackberry Service Terms of Use (checkbox). Click Update, then click Checkout. The new $0/user/month pricing for all of your current seats for the Hosted BlackBerry service takes effect at new agreement signature. All users under the old terms of use are now covered by the new terms of use regardless of the user count entered.
    ** At a minimum, customers should enter the number of Hosted BlackBerry licenses in use today across all existing Hosted BlackBerry subscriptions. This number is visible in the Hosted BlackBerry Administration Console which is a part of the Microsoft Online Administration Portal.
  4. Cancel the old subscription(s): To cancel your previous subscriptions and avoid being billed for the Hosted BlackBerry service as of your next billing cycle, you must cancel any previously existing subscriptions through a Service Request, either by phone or through the service request form in your Microsoft Online Administration Console (MOAC). Service use will continue uninterrupted after cancelling the old subscriptions.

Bad News

The good news is that organizations can save £1000’s per year but there is some bad news. Unfortunately, RIM aren’t going to have the new platform ready for the General Availability (GA) of Microsoft Office 365; it will be “beginning in late 2011” according to Microsoft.

We’ve been told that companies on Office 365 will be unable to use Hosted Blackberry until the RIM platform is complete, so perhaps some 6 months after Office 365 becomes available. I am yet to get 100% clarification on this point but it appears this means that existing BPOS & Hosted Blackberry users must choose:

Stay on the BPOS platform with Hosted Blackberry for a further 6 months

or

Move to the new Office 365 platform and lose Hosted Blackberry for around 6 months

Not an ideal situation for anyone so I am looking to get more clarification around this ASAP and will update here. My hope is that although they are terminating subscriptions, Microsoft will keep their platform running for existing customers until such time that RIM get their act together…

Microsoft BPOS to support Office 2003


Yesterday I was part of a technical roundtable regarding MS Online Services/BPOS and there was a lot of great information revealed, unfortunately I can’t say much as it’s all under NDA…suffice to say it’s a great product that is going to keep on getting better.

There is however, one piece of info I CAN share and that is that BPOS will-from June (next month)-start to fully support Office 2003.

This is brilliant news as the Office 2007 only requirement was preventing a lot of people from being able to seriously consider MS Online Services which was a shame! BPOS is positioned as a great way to reduce the impact on budgets and to help keep costs down but then having to upgrade to the latest version of Office didn’t tend to go down too well…I think a lot of people saw it as “giveth with one hand, taketh with the other”. It is often the smaller companies, who would most benefit from MS Online, that are still on Office 2003 so now a whole new arena is opened up…good skills Microsoft 🙂

Microsoft BPOS Trials available


After Monday’s Cebit announcement, the customer trials of MS Online (BPOS) are now available here. You can also see the pricing too…

Here you can choose to trial Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online, Live Meeting Online or the complete BPOS suite (including Office Communications Server Online).

The trial is up to a maximum of 20 users and will run until General Availability (sometime in April) and then a further 30 days. If you choose to turn it live and purchase subscription, the systems will simply carry on working so you won’t have to reconfigure anything 🙂

At £10.04 per user per month for the entire suite, MS Online can really help business increase productivity and cut costs at the same time…go check it out!

%d bloggers like this: