Some good news for both Office 365 and the embattled RIM company arrived today with the formal launch of RIM’s BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 (that’s quite a mouthful). The service has been in beta since last October and its availability removes a hurdle that has existed in some companies that prevented them moving from on-premises Exchange to Office 365. After all, if you couldn’t use your “crackberries”, then life just wouldn’t be worth living, would it?
In any case, it’s good to see the service launched and to be fair to RIM, they have always done a reasonable job of supporting Exchange users. The architecture of the cloud service, including some good information that compares the different variants of BlackBerry servers, security configurations, and the data flow between device, BlackBerry cloud services and Office 365 is described in a document available on the RIM web site. The diagram above, which shows the different components that are deployed within the solution is taken from that document. It includes an SSL connection between RIM and Microsoft to enable messages to flow to and from BlackBerry devices.
Connectivity options for Office 365 deployments are enhanced with RIM’s new service and the decision by Microsoft to extend ActiveSync support to Plan K users. Seeing that RIM still has a large customer base that use BlackBerry Enterprise Server with Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007, I anticipate that this announcement will increase the pace of transition from on-premises to cloud services. I don’t see the same thing happening for companies that have deployed Exchange 2010 as these companies run the latest and greatest software and have already gone through the upgrade cycle to get there – and had good reason to stay with an on-premises deployment. They’ll probably stay as is until the time for the debate to resume again occurs when Microsoft introduces the next version of Exchange or it’s time to consider refreshing server hardware.