by Al Sacco

Sneak Peek: BlackBerry Admins Share Best BES 5.0.3 Features

Oct 15, 2010
MobileSmall and Medium Business

Two BlackBerry Enterprise Server experts share their opinions on the best enhancements to the upcoming BES v5.0.3.

Yesterday, I posted leaked documentation on the upcoming BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 5.0 Service Pack 3 (SP3) software update, and I offered a quick summary of features I thought were particularly noteworthy.

BES 5.0.3 Release Notes

BlackBerry “power user,” I am. But BES administrator, I’m not. So I reached out to two of my BES-expert sources for some more informed perspective on the new features, enhancements and bug fixes within BES 5.0.3.

I’ll refer to these sources as BES Master 1 and BES Master 2, since they’re currently testing the BES 5.0 SP3 Beta/EAP1, and both spoke with me on the condition that they’re not identified due to NDAs.

And though the release details for BES 5.0.3 have not yet been finalized, one source did share RIM’s current target release date.

Keep moving for specifics.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0 SP3: Best New Features

BES Master 1 says one of the most notable additions in BES 5.0 SP3 is, without a doubt, the new support for Microsoft’s Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 R2 and Lync Server 2010.

“[A]dmins have been waiting forever for OCS 2007 R2 support,” BES Master 1 says. “Technical issues with OCS made it impossible for BES to connect to OCS 2007 R2…and once you upgraded your OCS server to 2007 R2 you couldn’t revert to OCS 2007 R1.”

That was a big problem, the source says, because you the lost ability to use the BlackBerry OCS client. (See more information on this specific issue here.)

BES Master 2 thinks the new support for S/MIME and PGP encrypted attachments in BES 5.0.3 is the best new addition, since this new support makes send and receiving attachments via BlackBerry more secure.

Assigning Wi-Fi profiles to users in past BES versions was tedious, according to BES Master 1, so the new support for setting Wi-Fi attributes via groups is also a welcome addition in BES 5.0.3.

The next BES version supports “sortable columns” within the administration console, BES Master 1 says.

That lack of “[s]ortable columns was the biggest complaint of BES 4.x admins when they upgraded,” BES Master 1 says. “Especially in medium- to large-infrastructures where the existing search filter wasn’t good enough.”

Support for proxy authentication for BlackBerry Administration Service (BAS) access to the Internet is also noteworthy, BES Master 1 says.

“Proxy authentication for BAS to Internet solves a big issue for upgrading device.xml and vendor.xml which are necessary to push apps from BES to the devices,” the source says. “If those files are not up to date [in past versions] push wouldn’t work. And there was no method to upgrade them manually.” (Find more information on this specific issue here and here.

Finally, the BlackBerry MDS Integration Service (MDS-IS) is now end-of-life, and the BES 5.0.3 setup application removes the MDS Integration Service when you upgrade BES.

“Almost no one used MDS-IS anyway but lots of people installed in on their BES because they thought they needed it,” BES Master 1 says. “Once it was installed, it was nearly impossible to remove it from BES Config database.”

So when will BES 5.0.3 become available for download? Nothing is set in stone quite yet, but BES Master #2 tells me RIM is targeting a January 2011, launch.

Check out the BES 5.0.3 release notes here, then read about a new SharePoint add-on for BES, as well as an upcoming Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry app, both of which are referenced in the BES 5.0.3 documentation.