At Mobile World Congress’ general keynote, RIM announced a new enterprise product called BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, which, as of its availability today, brings basic mobility management to small businesses completely for free. Designed to phase out RIM’s previous SMB product, BlackBerry Professional Software, BESX will handle not only BlackBerry, but a host of other devices with ActiveSync support. From what I was hearing after the announcement, BESX scales very nicely, so existing BlackBerry enterprise customers who have a relatively select rollout can share the love with the rest of the organization with minimal cost, and then easily upgrade BESX users to full-blown BES service as the need arises.
So, what would incline RIM to give away a solution that they have, until now, been making a healthy living charging medium-sized corporations for? The Professional Software needed a refresh, sure, but is there any reason small companies will give a dime to RIM for BES software ever again? In short, not necessarily, but those small companies have the potential of becoming big companies, who need more features and will start paying in due course for the bigger BES brother. A few features have been added to the full-blown BES product, which basically turns RIM’s enterprise software business into a freemium model.
Aside from getting companies hooked on BlackBerry with a fiendishly pusher-esque “the first one’s free”, it seems to me that RIM is making a pre-emptive strike against other platforms who have been sniffing around corporate mobility – namely Google, since they’re the ones most likely to offer some kind of free Android management solution to the enterprise market. We’ve seen what the projects for corporate Android growth are like, and it won’t be long before Google starts pushing all of their Apps customers to use Android.
As far as BESX is concerned, you can get a closer look and download the necessary software for free at RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express page.