Finger in the air question for Blackberry customers/consultants

I am currently moving to Proof of Concept on a customer that wants BES10 service for new devices.

One customer.  That’s it.   I remember the days of doing 2 BES installations a week (from 2.2 to 4.x) many years ago.  Lots of MDM/Traveler installations nowdays.  Gartner’s recent recommendation to find an exit strategy for Blackberry Enterprise houses has not helped the abandonment.  As opposed to media suggestions I wanted to ask consultants and specialists and try to get an idea on takeup.  What are your plans for BES on your (or your customer’s) site.

37 Comments »

  1. Gabriella Davis Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    I’m down to two customers actively using BBs as a strategic solution vs gradually moving away. My views of BES10 infrastructure is that it’s poorly done and not worth the administrative overhead for the majority of customers. Amazing that they took so long to produce something so inelegant and poorly thought through.

  2. Richard D Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    Users are pretty consistently leaving our BES environment for Traveler. We’ll maintain BES 5 as mission critical, until there’s not many users there, then we’ll actively migrate the remaining off. No plans for BES 10, but we may include it in an MDM comparison. A handful of BlackBerry 10 users keen on Traveler 9, tho. They’ve been quiet recently…

  3. Andy Donaldson Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    We have 28 people left on our BES 5 cluster. Hoping to have them off to Traveler by the end if the year.

  4. Frank Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 9:37 am

    Pretty much the same as Richard D.

    We have BES 5, which is still our main mobile platform, but Traveler is quickly catching up, and soon to overtake it, in terms of the number of devices supported.

    We only have a handful (<10) of BB10 devices running on Traveler 8.5.3, soon to be migrated to Traveler 9.0.X. We have no immediate plans to adopt BES10.

  5. Prefer not to publish my name Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    Its hard to explain why customers should spend an awful amount of money on BES5/10 while they can get the same almost for free with Traveler. It doesnt matter that both platforms are fundamentally different, for managers they both are just mobile devices. We have done some BES10 pilots, but not a single customer wanted to invest serious money for running this complex setup. My personal expectation: More Apple devices for Enterprise customers, but no more BES.

  6. Mark Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 10:04 am

    We run our own on prem BES we still have 1000 BES5 users in production and have stood up a BES10 server infrastructure in the US. For our company Blackberry does seem to still seem to have a loyal following especially in the UK and within the more low cost parts of our corp.

    There are some folks within the company that seem to want to stomp on Blackberry like a bug for whatever reason but I think there is room for iOS, android, and BES10. BOYD is about choosing the tool that best fits your work style…

  7. pmooneynet Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Mark – is that decision about the devices or the enterprise service at the back end though? BES10 devices can connect to activesync servers, so if you use another MDM solution, why Blackberry? Or to put it differently, if you have BES5 you get MDM with BES10 and UDS. But why choose it?

    This is not a bash Blackberry post – Im just trying to get thoughts and comments from the marketplace for my insight. Hopefully it will help others too

  8. René Winkelmeyer Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 11:33 am

    From my own experience and what I see on customer sites the position is clear: the room for BlackBerry gets smaller and smaller.

    It’s not Traveler _or_ BlackBerry. You need Traveler anyway. So BES10 server is more infrastructure and more administration.

    BlackBerry was famous for their high reliable (push) mail. With BB10 they are using ActiveSync, like mostly anybody else. Nothing to win here.

    BlackBerry introduced their perimeters (different workspaces for private and company data/apps) for separating data. Apple introduced the same separation model with iOS 7 – in one workspace. Samsung has KNOX. Nothing to distinguish here.

    Users want tablets. BlackBerry thinks tablets are not the future. You don’t get tablets from them.

    Users want apps. Quality apps. You don’t get a lot of them on BlackBerry.

    The companies future is uncertain. They’ve lost the “war” a few years ago and I’m pretty sure they won’t catch up. It’s sad that a company with such an outstanding success in the past has overlived itself. But it is how it is.

    The question is:
    Would you buy a new car from a car manufacturer who’s future is uncertain? I won’t.

  9. Andreas Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    We’ve got two large customers where BES is firmly set and strategic. They are moving to BES10 basically because of the new devices which they want badly, especially the Q10. That BES10 also offers MDM for other devices is nice but not critical for them.

    Other customers are in a waiting position. Since you don’t need a separate server for BES10 anymore, interest has been rising but most don’t see the need to control other devices in the same way they do/did with BlackBerry. BlackBerry = corporate/locked – iOS/Android = BYOD/freedom so the limited capabilities of Traveler are more than enough.
    But the fact that you could use one tool to manage your BB securely with all the fancy settings and could also control iOS/Android is still a valid point for most of them. Again, they still want to see where this is going from here, some POCs are in the planing.

    What really is a pain point though is the lack of support now that you are depending on Traveler. Features are missing or not working “at the moment”, i.e. encryption, pushing global contacts to devices and also the need to bind BES10 with AD, although this should not be the case anymore with 10.2. Besides this, the licensing and activation of SRP and CAL’s is a joke.
    The other down side is the lacking or late support for Domino environments especially for UDS. I heard more then once “oh it works with ActiveSync/Exchange, talk to IBM about Traveler”.
    If your customer is on Domino you really need to wait for BES10.2 as the secure workspace is not supported before that even if it might work.

  10. Alex Heller Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    Currently we are running 4 BES 5 Servers to serve around 1600 Users. On the other hand we have Traveler serving around 550 iOS devices. No BB10. Ok, we have 10 BB10 test devices but at the moment we are more looking after Android than BB10 .

  11. Mick Moignard Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    My customers are moving away from Blackberry to Traveler, too. Mainly BYOD pressure.

  12. Alan Dalziel Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

    The initiative at my current client to migrate away from BES has been in place for over a year and is device driven rather than infrastructure although licensing costs have been cited too. Seems that EMEA users are happier with BB than US as more iPhones are adopted over here than in Europe – Android has been determined to be too insecure (really? fingerprint scanner now overrides PIN codes with iPhone 5s on the MDM we use – and so easily hacked, but I digress).
    Long term there are no plans to use BES10 as Traveler is being adopted globally as the strategic platform. There’s likely to be hold-outs in some areas, but I doubt they’ll get to do it for long.

  13. David Schaffer Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    We have a shrinking pool of Blackberry users. Those that are staying on BB are going on Traveler with no BES. I do miss Journal and ToDo sync we got with BES 4.

  14. Steve Mullen Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    We have a BES server and a BES Express server and will be retiring the BES server in a month or so and moving anyone left on it to the BES Express server. It’s been awhile since we deployed a BlackBerry device and no longer officially support them except in extenuating circumstances. We do have one BB device (Q10 I think) on Traveler as a test device. The NDM capabilities in Traveler suffice for us at the moment.

  15. Mark Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    It is becaause of the “transparent VPN” that gets built back to the BES box.. Links can be emailed for appoval and the device can talk to the internal backend without starting up a VPN client. This is the promary reason we went with the additional weight of the BES10 server in addtion to Traveler

  16. Rainer Brandl Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    I think, only companies having employees traveling around the world currently are using BB, because this still is the only cause.

    If IBM would also get some agreement with the providers the few BB installations would disappear very quickly.

  17. Rob McDonagh Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

    We are sprinting away from BlackBerry as quickly as we can. BES 10 is banned and so are the Blackberry 10 devices. We are moving to iPhones (had been a fully supported platform as an option, now have become the strategic direction) and looking into BYOD. This isn’t a technical capability decision, it’s a decision based on lack of confidence in the company’s long-term viability. The fact that BlackBerry (or the cell providers) is making it nearly impossible to get the earlier BB models and pushing the 10 models so hard just makes us move away faster.

  18. David Price Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

    My experience as a consultant is similar to what has already been posted. About 18-24 months ago companies with BES added Traveler. About 14 months ago companies began to think about decommissioning BES. For the diehards users, Traveler 9 and the Blackberry ActiveSync devices fill the gap.

  19. Mike Wissinger Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    Very few of my clients still support RIM devices. They see reduced costs in BYOD + Traveler and decide they can live without the additional MDM features of BES. Those that are sticking with BES are standardized a year or more behind the current release, so BES 10 isn’t an issue for them.

  20. Jerry Glover Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

    I was at the recent AirWatch Connect conference in Atlanta. AirWatch is a major MDM (or EMM -Enterprise Mobility Management – as they want to say now) vendor which supports pretty much any device and in a hands survery during their OGS-equivalent with ~1200 attendees, just a smattering ( <100? ) indicated any future with Blackberry. Same sentiments in some random lunch conversations; everyone seem's to be moving away, just the speed varies.

  21. Chris Miller Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

    We have some new customers that want us to manage the BES 10 infrastructure while others want to move to Traveler only until they realize some of the dependencies they had on parts they did not understand were BES centric.

    It is a mixed bag. The same for the devices. Employees love the BYOD but can’t explain why it is better for them for work purposes. I know my Z10 just works, everywhere I go, all the time. I watch people reboot, worry about data, etc on the other devices while I happily get the very cheap unlimited Blackberry global data

  22. Brian Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

    We have no plan to upgrade from the BES 5 server, and no plan to support Blackberry 10 devices. Over the past 2 years, 90% of our staff have moved to other devices. We don’t expect to have any Blackberry devices in another 12-18 months.

  23. Torben Volkmann Said,

    October 3, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    I’ve implemented over the last weeks 3 different. BES10 environments. Interesting was that one was a migration from BES5, one was a trade-in option from BES5 for managing iPhones and one was a complete new BES customer.
    Beside the problems and advantages the Blackberry has, there was never a discussion if it was Blackberry or ActiveSync/Traveler. All three wanted the plus on MDM/EMM that is not part of Traveler. Two of them like the idea to have the possibility to manage Blackberry and iOS/Android Devices with just one Management tool.
    I hope the the struggle of the company stops asap and that they can settle again. The customers which implemented BES10 are happy and didn’t regret and in my opinion this is what counts.

  24. Keith Brooks Said,

    October 4, 2013 @ 1:31 am

    Paul, Sadly no more BES customers, shut the last one down over a year ago.
    I know of one company that has made a decision to maintain BES 10 but we question how long given they also are now allowing the other 2 contenders.
    My rep calls me and keeps me updated still.

  25. Barb Skedel Said,

    October 4, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    We plan on decommissioning our BES cluster by mid-next year. Our only plan for this year is to take our existing BES’ to v5.0.4 in order to support Domino 9. All Blackberry devices are being replaced with iPhones.

  26. Sean Murphy Said,

    October 4, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

    Our BES 5 cluster continues to shrink user count everyday as users turn in their company provided Blackberry phones for BYOD and synch using IBM Traveler. We have piloted with MAAS360 and Airwatch to test filling in some of the gaps that IBM Traveler does not provide.

    The sad part in this story is is BBRY can be saved. There is little difference in the BES 5 stack and the BES 10 stack on the servers. BBRY could merge the two environments into one stack and provide an upgrade path that does not require massive hardware and software investments to provide the same services that BES 5 provided.

    I am sure there are some BBRY engineers out there who proposed just that. But in their rush to get out of the messaging, calendar and address book synch business and be the next Apple they tore apart what was a winning combination for nearly a decade.

  27. Patrick Said,

    October 7, 2013 @ 8:01 am

    Same here at a german insurance company. We used to have about 100 BB users on BES 5.0.x., but we’re quickly migrating them to iPhone & Traveler on Domino now.

  28. AC Said,

    October 7, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

    @17 – Seems sad that BBRY actually fixes end user pain points caused by the now legacy BBOS, and they are rewarded with sentiments like “We are sprinting away from BlackBerry as quickly as we can. BES 10 is banned and so are the Blackberry 10 devices.”

    Seriously, under legacy BBOS phones, you needed a BES/BES Express server. Under BB10, if your company doesn’t need the control/security offered by BES10, fine, connect via Active Sync/Traveller for FREE…Just like Android and iPhone. If you need the control/security, then install BES10. IT. IS. OPTIONAL.

    Under legacy BBOS, did you or your company hate having to pay the extra $15/month for BES/BIS plan (yes, that old “BB Tax”) that your telco charged? Guess what? GONE!!!

    Under legacy BBOS, was development a pain? BB10 is POSIX-compliant. AAA apps have been coming…something that was not possible under BBOS.

    Under legacy BBOS, were you tired of the hour-glassing? GONE!

    BBRY is the ONLY phone manufacturer that had to rebuild the phone OS AND a secure infrastructure. Yes, six years is a bit long, but look at what they’ve been able to accomplish. Don’t they deserve a look to see how far they’ve changed? And was it for the better? I think it’s fair to say that if BBRY goes down, the kind of security/control over handsets (I’ll add “respect for privacy” too) will never be replicated in the future because there is no market for it. The market doesn’t reward it.

    Going back to the initial “finger in the air” question…The entire point of BB10 was to get rid of the pain points…They got rid of them (again, including the requirement of a BES server)…and now you’re lamenting that you don’t have work? Really?

    I’m sorry. But it really seems that no one appreciates what they’ve actually accomplished, and their former business partners are more than happy to kick them in the groin when their down.

  29. pmooneynet Said,

    October 7, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

    @28 – I am very close to removing your comment as you left anonymous details. But I do not want to be in that group of “kicking Blackberry when they are down” as you say in your post.

    I loved the BES server for many years. IMHO, the company management and lack of direction destroyed the business. Not the engineers. Blackberry, on the consumer business side did not keep up with the times. The gatekeepers are no longer in control. The users are. The users want iPhones and Samsung. The UDS comes quite late in the game, compared to Soti, MI, AW, Afaria and the other products.

    I want Blackberry to stay in the business.

  30. Volker Weber Said,

    October 8, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    Talked to one BB customer recently who is going into BES10/Z10 big time.

  31. Darren Duke Said,

    October 8, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

    I’m seeing an interesting side effect. Many die-hard users would actually stay with pre-BB10 OS devices 9and ergo BES(x) 5), but they can’t as the channel has all but sold out of them so all you can get is refubs from the carriers. So they are being forced to reconsider their platform.

    While we still see a fair number of BES renewals (law enforcement or other secure environments) these shops are taking long hard looks at the other option. That option is mostly iOS, very rarely Android. I have no idea why (although given the choice these days I’d much rather manage iOS as opposed to the “snow flake-everyone is the same-but not quite” Androids).

    Still have yet to hear a customer ask anything beyond “Do we need a BES10 for BB10 devices?”. That’s bad news for the company previously know as RIM.

  32. Manfred Wiktorin Said,

    October 8, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

    We have around 150 Blackberry devices running on BES 5. And 2 or 3 iPhones (board of directors…) on Traveler 8.5.
    There are no plans to move to another platform. Blackberry devices are still considered as the best workhorses in our company.
    A BES 10 will be installed in the next weeks (and Traveler updated to version 9). And about 20 BB10 devices to be purchased.

  33. Doug Robinson Said,

    October 8, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

    We’re seeing the disappearance of BES as about everyone else reports, too. One of the few remainders initiated a conversation about dumping it just this morning.

    The few BES 10 devices people are bringing in we’ve put all onto Traveler 9.

  34. Sam Bridegroom Said,

    October 8, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

    I retired my BES 2+ years ago, one customer just retired their BES two weeks ago, and another customer looking to migrate from their BES first half of next year (if not sooner) in favor of iOS/Traveler. I get more questions about MDM solutions than I do BES, as the client base has written BlackBerry off as dead.

  35. Rob McDonagh Said,

    October 9, 2013 @ 12:18 am

    @28 It looks like you missed the part where I said the decision had nothing to do with the platform’s capability, but rather the viability of the company. If you want to lecture me about the flaws in our strategic decision-making, please focus on what I actually said.

  36. Manuel Nientit Said,

    October 9, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    It is all a matter of “too late”.
    Whatever I tell (potential) customers – there is a certain image that does not fit reality (anymore?), but that drives the “strategic” decision.

    “We are using ‘Smartphones’ now” I am told, when people want to tell me that they switch to iPhone. As if BlackBerry hadn’t been a Smartphone long before the iPhone even was thinkable of. And what was right then is right even more now. BlackBerry Devices are great Smartphones (AND gaming consoles like iPhone). People don’t think of BlackBerry as Smartphones nonetheless.

    Also it is in the head of people that “Smartphones”/iPhones don’t go together with BlackBerry Server.

    You could fix all this ignorance, but nobody wants to listen anymore “now that BlackBerry is going to die anyway/anytime”.

    Of course there are also some major turn-downs. E.g. why do I have to use Traveler Sync with its limited capability (Address Sync), unsupported filters (e.g. mail size) and battery drain? Why do I have to use AD, although it is not being maintained sufficiently (email addresses) at a lot of customer sites?

    I do not think that BlackBerry is going to die. They will most likely be bought, stabilised and then live on as a Niche-Product.

  37. Eckhard Eilers Said,

    October 16, 2013 @ 11:56 am

    From our point, we migrated from BES5 to BES 10.0 to BES 10.1. This will be the last installation. My customer will switch over to Traveler with some MDM solution to enhance device security. Thats it, sorry for BB. Too many disappointments, less functionality, bad support, no real integration of BDS/UDS.

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