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Old 04-30-2008, 12:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Exchange Activesync Admin considering the switch

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Hello,
I administer an exchange 2007 SP1 box along with 20+ PalmOS and windows mobile users. I have a lot of folks requesting a BES server and am ALWAYS open to providing new services for our users.

My question revolves around administration of BES. I've gone through a LOT of posts on this forum and there just seems to be so many crazy issues that i've never encountered on palm and WM devices. The biggest issue i deal with is getting our signed certification installed on a device halfway across the country. I have it down to under a few minutes of instructions over the phone.

I'm reading a lot of issues on items not synchronizing, activation issues, etc. It sounds like a whole new world of problems. I know it can't be that bad because BES has a strong presence in the corporate world. I'm just curious from an Admin perspective if you would recommend letting BES into your Exchange 2007 environment knowing what you know today? Am i overeacting?

I was actually pretty excited about researching the possibility of supporting BB devices. It seems like the phone users are MUCH happier than my treo users. However, once i got to the admin forum i immediately noticed many more issues than what i see on the Exchange activesync forum. maybe it's just me.

I'm curious what your thoughts are. I want to make it work, but i don't want this to become a part time job, either. I want to "set it and forget it" like I've been able to do with activesync.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-30-2008, 05:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi, OK i know we are not an Exchange shop, so no thoughts there, but as far as I am concerned it has been a case of:
  1. Install BES
  2. Activate Users
  3. Sit and watch the flowers in the garden.
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Old 04-30-2008, 05:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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BES is stable but keep in mind that:

a) Not everyone reads the documentation first
b) Not all 'admins' understand anything about BES before getting into it
c) Not all environments are set in ideal conditions

There are quirks to BES, I'll admit that, but it's best at what it does. When reading the posts here you will see a lot of the same issues popping up as well, especially one way calendar sync. Anyone who reads enough of those posts should understand what the cause is for that issue and how to fix it.

Here are some things I kow that Palm/WM canot match RIM for:

1. Security - BES/BB is the only wireless device that meets Military standards

2. Compression - I know that Windows Mobile devices compression is nowhere near RIM's. Some tests I had seen shows data paskets up to 143% larger in size, so more network overhead and cost

3. Reliability - I've heard a lot of stories about ActiveSync locking up the deivces and only working 50% of the time. I know that isn't always the case but I have heard that many times, and not from RIM but actual admins who support both RIM/Palm/MS products

Keep watching this post, but for me personally I would go to BB. Your users who are faithful Palm/WM users will take some time to get used to a BB and not all will like it. BB isn't for everyone but as I said before no other product can beat RIM at what they do.
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Old 04-30-2008, 08:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gibson_hg View Post
BES is stable but keep in mind that:

a) Not everyone reads the documentation first
b) Not all 'admins' understand anything about BES before getting into it
c) Not all environments are set in ideal conditions

There are quirks to BES, I'll admit that, but it's best at what it does. When reading the posts here you will see a lot of the same issues popping up as well, especially one way calendar sync. Anyone who reads enough of those posts should understand what the cause is for that issue and how to fix it.

Here are some things I kow that Palm/WM canot match RIM for:

1. Security - BES/BB is the only wireless device that meets Military standards

2. Compression - I know that Windows Mobile devices compression is nowhere near RIM's. Some tests I had seen shows data paskets up to 143% larger in size, so more network overhead and cost

3. Reliability - I've heard a lot of stories about ActiveSync locking up the deivces and only working 50% of the time. I know that isn't always the case but I have heard that many times, and not from RIM but actual admins who support both RIM/Palm/MS products

Keep watching this post, but for me personally I would go to BB. Your users who are faithful Palm/WM users will take some time to get used to a BB and not all will like it. BB isn't for everyone but as I said before no other product can beat RIM at what they do.
^^ DITTO DITTO DITTO
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Old 04-30-2008, 08:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks, guys! That helps. I definitely don't want to give the impression that i don't want to deploy BES. I just wanted to know what an overall impression was. Overall, it seems like the BB end users are significantly happier than my treo users. So, that alone makes me want to get it to work correctly the first time. If anyone else wants to chime in, please feel free. Thanks for your time!
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm more of a lurker around these forums, but I think I have some helpful insight here.

One reason why you notice so many oddball quirks, errors, and other problems on these boards is because there is a centralized support community to answer questions. That's not something you see for Activesync (with the exception of technet). A lot of activesync admins simply don't have a place to go to ask those questions. BES admins can collaborate here and get quick answers to questions.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwarren View Post
A lot of activesync admins simply don't have a place to go to ask those questions. BES admins can collaborate here and get quick answers to questions.
Really? I disagree with you here ... there are plenty of online support forums, newsgroups, mailinglists, and blogs that Exchange / AD admins can get help on.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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We have a 20 users on WM rest are on BB. There are differences in the way they work. BB in not end all. I have had 3 BB users switch to BlackJacks. I have had a 1 BJ user switch to BB. Once the users is comfortable with the unit they have they usually dont want to switch. YMMV

BES server runs very well. Not many issues with it. I run it on seperate dedicated W2K server. Setup was fairly easy and you do get one support call to get it set up. I had to use mine to set an exchange permission on initial install. EA OTA is much better than getting certs into a WM. I have a post on custom activation message that will help you out a bit.

Better activation message than default 4.1.4 version
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I recently converted our 6 Treo users to BB and BES. Having never touched or even looked at BES, I had everything going in a day. It was very easy and straightforward to setup.
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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We have both and it's nice to offer users a choice. But BES provides much easier management of the devices, the activation process it quick. You can pull all kinds of data on usage (something I have still yet to do with Windows Mobile devices) so from a control / admin perspective the BES is hands down better that Exchange ActiveSync.

You didn't say the scope of users you might have but download express for yourself to get a feel for it and then decide.
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Old 04-30-2008, 04:20 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I will download the Express server that includes one license. Actually, Alltel here is releasing the Curve 8330 tomorrow (May 1st). I called today to have them hold one for me. So, May 1st will be play day for me!!! Thanks again, folks!!!
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Old 05-02-2008, 04:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
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How did the play day go? Were you able to get the Curve and get Express installed and set up?
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Old 05-02-2008, 04:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I just read this but let me give my 2 cents here. We have over 1000 BB users, just under 300 WM users and a little over 100 Pam Treo users using Intellisync. That being said. I spend the least amount of my support time on the BB side of the house. Active Sync users just quit syncing for no reason. Intellisync on Palm Treo and Treos just plain suck. BB is by far the most stable platform. As a matter of fact. Our company is on the verge of going BB only for wireless email and forcing all WM and Treo users to go to BB. many are doing it on their own anyway.

BB is still King in Wireless email! I have very little problems or issues with it and if you install per RIM instructions, it goes very well and very easy to do.
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:03 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm using BES with hosted MS Exchange, and have had no errors and complaints! In fact, the entire setup was done quickly and easily, and my host company walked a number of my admin users through the configuration process - it took no longer then 3 or 4 minutes! If you're truly interested in BES, but are cautious of all the complications that could come with it, I'd suggest looking into The Message Center Exchange Hosting
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:21 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeptuneIT View Post
How did the play day go? Were you able to get the Curve and get Express installed and set up?
lol.... Well, I'm still playing. I think I'm up and running. I very much love what i see so far and can now see why MS Activesync isn't the best solution out there. My last remaining "quirk" that I'm trying to figure out is a delay issue. If an outside user sends me an email the BB will receive it anywhere from 10-15 minutes after Outlook has. Everything else is working (deletes, calendar adds, contacts, etc). The WM devices will receive the message at the same time as outlook or at least within just a few seconds. So, somewhat frustrating and worth figuring out.

I plan to post back here once that's resolved. But, I am VERY impressed with what i have seen so far. The best thing RIM did was give the one free CAL and software. Talk about a sales tool!!! Most likely they will be getting a BES server sold out of the deal. Very impressive.
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