BlackBerry Enterprise Server: the end is nigh?

The Nexus team have maintained a BlackBerry Enterprise Server since the inception of the Nexus service. At its peak there were many hundreds of users for this service. For some time a BlackBerry handset was the mobile device of choice among both University staff and students.

Those glory days have gone. Nexus’ user base has predominantly moved to Android and iOS devices. Even those die-hard BlackBerry fans who are loyal to the firm have been moving towards ActiveSync connections for mobile Nexus email, rather than pay for a corporate licence to use the Enterprise Server service.

The last month has seen corporate BlackBerry usage decline to a new low – fewer than sixty users’ devices have made contact. The most modern BlackBerry handset we have had connecting to the servers over that time is a 9720 model, introduced back in 2013. Many others are using models from the 2007-2008 era: none are likely to be supported by vendor warranty.

From the Nexus team’s perspective the part that we look after operates via two high-availability servers and a back-end SQL database.  This set-up has proven to be solid, reliable, and stable over the years and we have no anticipation that that will change any time soon. The server software is elderly, but still vendor-supported. However we have recently re-evaluated our position, particularly in light of the declining usage of corporate-licenced BlackBerry devices.

The BlackBerry server software does not support the current range of BlackBerry handsets. In order to support these newer devices our server software would have to be upgraded. More importantly the version change requires users’ devices to be re-licenced (at cost). The expense and effort required to do this does not make good financial sense for a system hosting so few users.

We are minded to put a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notice over this service, should any serious issue occur which is not easily rectifiable. Please note that there are no immediate plans to withdraw corporate BlackBerry services, and it remains operational for your University users who do still have these handsets on those licenced contracts.

BlackBerry users who use BIS, or ActiveSync, to connect to Nexus will be unaffected regardless of whether there is a Nexus BlackBerry Enterprise Service: if you have never bought a corporate licence for your users’ BlackBerry devices to use the Nexus BlackBerry service you can relax. Those users don’t use the Nexus BlackBerry servers and will be unaffected whatever we do with them.

We believe that it would be in your best interest to liaise with your BlackBerry users and identify if those devices are still being actively used. When your users’ BlackBerry devices come up for replacement we would advise that you consider Android, iOS or other ActiveSync-aware devices rather than a corporate-licenced BlackBerry from now on. Newer OS10 BlackBerry handsets, although about to be withdrawn from sale, do support ActiveSync connectivity if your users remain a fan of the platform.

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