Posted by: seanv | October 23, 2009

Exchange 2010 & BlackBerry Support

Exchange2010_BlackBerry

As Exchange 2010 approaches GA, RIM has created a news item where you will find their compatibility matrices available for download.  It states,

October 20, 2009 – Research In Motion (RIM) is pleased to notify you that we are working in close collaboration with Microsoft on compatibility and support for BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010. Compatibility is expected later this year. BlackBerry® Technical Support Services for BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is expected within 30 days following the global availability of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.

This is excellent news for all those RIM customers out there that are looking to move to Exchange 2010.  Not only will we now be receiving T-Support for environments with Exchange 2010 within 30 days after the release date, but we know that RIM is hard at work with Microsoft to ensure BlackBerry Enterprise Server is compatible with Exchange 2010. 

Exchange 2010 brings about many changes to its architecture, but specifically replacing CDO, WebDAV, ExOLEDB, and Store Event Sinks in favor of EWS (Exchange Web Services) requires many 3rd party applications to update for compatibility.  Many might disagree with me, but in my opinion it is a great move for Microsoft to take this stance.  EWS is available and encouraged for use in since the release of Exchange 2007 and the public became informed that this is the technology that Microsoft will be investing in.  We now only need to learn one technology for all client applications instead of the multitude of protocols in the past.

Current versions of BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) make use of Exchange MAPI for all communication with the mailbox, with the exception of any additions, deletions or changes to calendaring data from the handheld which is handled by CDO (Collaboration Data Objects).  Many administrators for years have been struggling with implementations of BES within their environment due to problems with this method of communication with Exchange.  First, the additional load which the BES places on Exchange requires provisioning of additional resources on the mailbox server and second, CDO itself lends itself to a variety of problems with calendar operations.  Examining any Production Exchange mailbox server that includes a BES will  reveal that the application logs contains many 8206 EXCDO errors and you are likely to see a variety of calendaring issues in their environment.

As mentioned earlier, CDO support is now removed from Exchange 2010, therefore RIM will need to update the BES to make use of EWS for pushing calendar updates from the handheld.  Now, this is the minimum requirement that RIM must do for interoperability, but they may (hopefully) choose to leverage EWS for much more and potentially include the following based on current functionality:

  • Availability Service (Free/Busy Lookups and Publishing)
  • Folder Operations (Search/View mailbox folders)
  • Item Operations (Create, Update, Delete, Copy, Get, Move, and Send items that consist of either Message, Contact, Calendar or Task message classifications)
  • Notification Operations (Delivery of new content from the mailbox to the handheld)
  • Synchronization Operations (Message reconciliation, PIM Data synchronization)

Converting the BES to use EWS for as many functions as possible would be ideal as these operations execute against the Client Access Server, thus reducing load on the Mailbox Server.  Furthermore, all the EWS functionality listed above is backwards compatible with Exchange 2007, thus existing Exchange 2007 organizations could benefit as well.  RIM could also decide to include more features into their product as there are a whole array of additional features available with EWS such as integration with Unified Messaging, Delegates, Permissions, etc.  An MSDN article detailing these features can be found here, but please be advised that the documentation is still pre-release as of the writing of this post.

Your friendly neighbourhood Exchange Admin.

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Responses

  1. Please notify me immediately when the BES/Microsoft Exchange 2010 compatability issue is resolved. Until then, I will not be using my Blackberry device. This is very inconvenient because I need this for work.

    • Many organizations that use BlackBerry devices are in the same state as you, we should be hearing from RIM on how soon we can expect support for Exchange 2010. However, there is an alternative solution. You could use Astrasync to provide your BlackBerry device(s) access to Exchange 2010 via ActiveSync. This will not provide you all the features that the BlackBerry Enterprise Server offers, but it does feature most of the syncronization that ActiveSync supports.


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