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BES 5.0 a smart choice for smartphone management

Enterprise-ready software features powerful Web-based admin tools, high-availabiity

By Rob Smithers, Network World
August 10, 2009 12:09 AM ET

Network World - Many factors enter in when an end user chooses between a BlackBerry, an iPhone or another device – there's coolness, cost, cachet, ease of use, features, apps. But for IT execs deploying a fleet of mobile devices, it's all about management.

How we tested BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0
Archive of Network World tests

We tested Research in Motion's BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 and found that it's an easy-to-use, Web-based tool that provides centralized administration, high availability and the ability to set rules and policies on a granular level.

There are two deployment options: an upgrade, or a new installation. We had BES v4.1.4.15 running already, so we used the new BES Transporter Tool to complete a seamless migration. We also did an out-of-the-box installation the same way a new enterprise customer would.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), we give the BES Transporter Tool a 9. Our migration, with five users, took under 30 minutes.

BlackBerry Administration Service provides Web-based administration access, with easy navigation tools that allow administrators to perform all tasks from one centralized location.

With Administration Service, an admin can publish and push updates and applications to one user or groups of users. The administrator can also identify unauthorized applications and prevent users from downloading, using or updating prohibited programs or applications. When a BlackBerry device is activated, the new security policy supersedes any previously installed programs or policies.

The prior version of BES featured BlackBerry Manager, a thick-client, desktop-based application that limited the flexibility of IT administrators. The new Administration Service offers more flexibility, allowing administrators to monitor and control the smartphone network through the Internet Explorer Web browser.

With BES 5, administrators can tailor and customize roles, skills and permissions, creating different levels of access to the server for limited administrative roles, such as password reset, activate new user and edit security policies.

The console is streamlined; the administrator can not only customize by skill sets, but partition to different classes of users. Users can belong to multiple groups, and groups can belong to other groups. When a user is moved to another group, the user automatically inherits the settings of that group.

You can also schedule all administration tasks, policy updates and applications, during low-traffic time and not impact users. There are multiple levels of built-in security policies available, or you can customize a policy, to meet your needs. Though these features were available in the previous release, the applications are more centralized, well structured and intuitive, easier to administer, and can be found in one location.

BES 5 provides increased visibility into the network. We noted the improved color-coded monitoring alerts, and easily identified the server and user related issues and status. The administrator can view reports on issues affecting the performance of the BES v5.0 server, which ensures uninterrupted service to the users.

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