Two terms we see a lot in the world of BlackBerry geekdom are BES and BIS. For those of you who don’t know the difference, BIS is BlackBerry Internet Service and BES is BlackBerry Enterprise Server. BES is usually employed by businesses who want to keep all of their email, notes, calendars, tasks, and contacts synced between their handheld and work computer. BIS is the standard bearer for personal users. In order to sync email, etc. to a computer, BlackBerry desktop software is required. Yet the question remains: How can personal users benefit from using an Enterprise server?
The case for BES
The No. 1 benefit of using a BlackBerry Enterprise Server is that it wirelessly syncs your data. Without the enterprise server, you’d have to hook up your BlackBerry to your computer via USB, and use the BlackBerry Desktop Software to get everything in order. But with BES, that data is synced wirelessly. Clearly, the benefit comes for the truly mobile worker. If you’re a freelancer who travels the country, or a small business owner who is constantly traveling to meetings, BES would benefit you greatly. Basically, it’s a solution for anyone who can’t readily sync data to their computer. The greater benefit comes from using a hosted BES. In that case, a company maintains the BES, and sells individual accounts. Hosting your own BlackBerry Enterprise Server can be rather costly, ranging in the thousands, and is usually relegated to larger businesses. So when we refer to BES throughout this piece, we’re really referring to hosted BES (and you can find a ton of hosted exchange reviews right here at BBGeeks).
The case for BIS
I can make this case a bit more personally, since I am a BIS user. Basically, I have no need for wireless sync. I rarely travel, and when I do I always have a laptop. True, I can’t always sync them up on the road, since I can’t always get Internet access. But we’re talking about a very small window where I’m not able to sync. Furthermore, I really don’t use the data features of a BES. I already get real-time email from BIS. Beyond that, I have little need to sync my calendar, contacts, notes, and tasks, since I’m usually near my laptop. I use Google Calendar, which sends me emails when I have tasks for the day. I can access my Google Calendar via BIS, so my calendar and tasks are taken care of. My friend put it best on using his BlackBerry notes. “I always carry a pen and something to write on with me,” he says. “Yeah, I could type it into the notes on my BlackBerry, but then I’ll just forget about it.” Because I’m the same way, there is little need to sync notes. Plus, if I really need to make a note, I can just email myself. And with contacts, I don’t have a need to sync beyond what I can do with BlackBerry Desktop Software. As I’ve said a bunch of times by now, I’m not away from a computer enough.
It’s about your personal needs
Different personal BlackBerry users are going to have different needs. As with the case of my friend and me, we’re not away from our computers enough to justify the expense. No, it’s not much — you can get BES for as little as $10 a month. But it’s $10 per month I can allocate elsewhere. Since I don’t use the data features that are synced, I see little need. My email and web browsing works fine, which is the entire reason I got the device in the first place. However, if you’re like Rae, BES might be your best course of action. It seems sometimes she’s everywhere at once. And so she doesn’t always have access to her desktop for syncing. She uses her calendar, notes, contacts, etc., so it makes sense for her to use BES via a hosted BES provider to sync everything up.
A free trial?
Maybe it is worth it for you to try out BES for a month or so to see how your business or personal experience changes. It’s a small investment, and might prove worthy. However, if you’re already using Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus Domino server software for your email, you can give this a whirl for free. Just head over to the BlackBerry Professional Software Express page and check out the overview and technical requirements to see if you qualify. If so, you can have one free license, with the opportunity to expand if you like the service. As RIM states, it’s a great way for small- and medium-sized business to get off the ground with BES, with minimal upstart costs. Any further questions? If so, ask ‘em in the comments, and I’ll answer them. Maybe it will lead to an expansion of this article.