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BlackBerry hosting launch history

The BlackBerry brand and smartphones under the brand of the same name are not as common in Russia as their younger competitors, the iPhone, etc. But in the West, the BlackBerry brand has long become a cult for both businessmen and ordinary users.
Today we will tell you a little about the history of the brand, as well as how the Infobox company took the first steps in order to make BlackBerry technologies more accessible to Russian customers.

A bit of history

The history of the BlackBerry brand, owned by the Canadian company Research In Motion (RIM), dates back to the late 90s, when pagers were first released, and then smartphones of this brand. BlackBerry devices — convenient and reliable to use, creating the effect of “continuous presence in the workplace”, quickly became popular among corporate clients. But the most important advantage of these devices is encryption (256-bit key with AES / 3DES algorithm) and compression of transmitted data using their own unique technologies, which allows you to organize a secure exchange of confidential information between your smartphone, mail server and other corporate information systems. Thanks to these advantages, over the past 10 years, BlackBerry smartphones have become the corporate standard for thousands of companies around the world. Indicative of this is the fact that 90% of Fortune 500 companies use BlackBerry.
But the encryption methods, which are closed to special services, restricted the spread of BlackBerry smartphones in many countries, except North America and some countries of western Europe.

Nevertheless, several years ago, BlackBerry smartphones appeared in Russia with mobile operators MTS and Beeline. But customers were offered only one way to connect Blackberry - having their own mail system (Exchange, Lotus), buying licenses for Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) and implementation within the organization. The price of only a license for BES is about 200 000 rubles, plus client licenses, not to mention that the company must have a ready-made IT infrastructure, its own postal system and technical specialists who are ready to implement this project. All this made the entry bar too high for the mass use of BlackBerry. At the same time, BlackBerry hosting is very common around the world, which is offered along with Exchange hosting.

We, while offering the Exchange hosting service, really wanted to launch BlackBerry hosting one day. The first time we ran into the Blackberry Enterprise Server, when some time ago a large state-owned company asked us to solve the problem of full use of existing Blackberry devices with the Exchange Server-based corporate mail system we had previously provided. And together with MTS specialists, we deployed a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) integrated with the mail system on our hosting. Later, after signing a partnership agreement with RIM, we implemented the BlackBerry solution in our organization.

Most recently, together with the largest mobile operator in Russia and the BlackBerry handset retailer - MTS - we were able to provide the BlackBerry service on the hosting model for a completely different, much less money. In short, the company transfers the boxes that it will use with the BlackBerry to the Exchange hosting platform, and they work with the hosted BES server. As a result, the client is paid for by the mail service based on Exchange 2010 and the BlackBerry Hosting service, you also need to connect a special data plan from MTS, which includes free email traffic and traffic when using the BlackBerry web browser throughout Russia.

How we implemented BlackBerry hosting

We added a failover cluster of 2 physical servers running BES 5 SP2 on Windows Server 2008 x64 to the existing hosting infrastructure on the NLB cluster of the HUB / CAS roles of Exchange 2010 Rollup 4 and DAG for mailbox databases. Managing the creation of mailboxes and BlackBerry users is carried out using WebSitePanel without the involvement of system administrators, for which the BlackBerry Resource Kit is installed on the BES, and the special user BESadmin has full access to the created Exchange boxes for the correct functioning of this bundle.

Device activation

After you have created a mailbox on the Exchange hosting platform and its corresponding BlackBerry user, you need to activate your smartphone. When the user enters his email address and activation password in the Corporate Activation menu, the following occurs:

• The smartphone sends activation information to the cellular network, which transmits it to the RIM network;
• On the RIM side, the servers responsible for activation identify the activation request and pack it into an ETP.DAT file, which is attached to the letter, and sends to an activated mailbox;
• The BlackBerry Enterprise Server Agent sees the new letter in the Exchange mailbox on our hosting platform, recognizes an activation request in it and deletes it;
• Using data from the file received in the letter, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server communicates with the smartphone to confirm receipt of the activation request;
• Next, BES checks the activation password for correctness, and if it is entered correctly, starts sending information to activate the device and other information to the smartphone, the synchronization process is in progress;

After synchronization is completed, the device activation is completed, and the user can start using the smartphone configured for work with Exchange. It would be simple if customers immediately transferred all their boxes to the hosting platform. But more often it is different.

The work of the domain boxes with BlackBerry hosting

Many customers who plan to use the BlackBerry Hosting service need to solve the problem of splitting mail into “regular” mailboxes served by a communication provider or own mail server and into mailboxes that will be served by our hosting infrastructure Exchange and BES server. This is necessary when, for example, only a few employees of the client company use BlackBerry devices, and it is impractical to transfer all corporate mail services to the Exchange hosting platform for economic or other reasons.

In practice, we solve this problem as follows. In order not to change the MX records of the domain from the boxes with which the BlackBerry devices will be used, on the main server we redirect all mail to special boxes created on our Exchange server. These are mailboxes that have 2 aliases, for example, user@example.ru and user@zXXX.demoexchange.ru, where zXXX.demoexchange.ru is the service domain of the client discussed by our mail servers. Thus, this mailbox has the ability to receive forwarded mail to the mailbox with our MXs and send mail on behalf of the main mailbox. However, if you have an SPF record, you will need to add it to the addresses of our sending servers. In order for the proposed scheme to work correctly, we assign the alias user@zXXX.demoexchange.ru as the Primary for this mailbox on the Exchange server, and make example.ru domain “external” so that there are no problems with mail delivery within the domain. The BlackBerry device is activated on the box user@zXXX.demoexchange.ru, and after activation, it is specified as Primary indicated by user@example.ru.

BlackBerry restrictions

As you know, not all the functionality laid by BlackBerry manufacturers is working, rather not allowed, in Russia. One of the most important prohibitions was the blocking of Wi-Fi. Fortunately, this restriction has recently been removed. Otherwise, in our hosting solution, we tried to use the maximum potential of BlackBerry, as well as all the functions of our other services for business clients based on Microsoft products. Part of the limitations so far failed to get around. For example, the BlackBerry does not have access to the general calendars of users, setting tasks to another user does not work. Also, on the hosting platform, we cannot provide access to the shared Active Directory, therefore, at the moment, synchronization with the corporate Active Directory client is not possible. Some limitations can be overcome by installing additional third-party applications .

While BlackBerry Messenger is not available in Russia (for free messaging between BlackBerry owners) it is being replaced by other free clients, and for business communications within the company, you can use the mobile client OCS. We provide a service based on Office Communications Server 2007 R2 , integrated with Outlook, the SharePoint portal, the CRM system, and it serves as a messenger both between BlackBerry owners and between all other employees of the company.

For whom we have done hosting BlackBerry

The BlackBerry service on the hosting model has become available for those small and medium-sized businesses that have not previously had the opportunity to deploy this solution on their own capacities. Usually, this is either the top management of the company who wants to use 2-3 communicators, or large, more often representative offices of western companies that use BlackBerry as a corporate standard.
Thus, the organization receives from the BlackBerry hosting an activated device with ubiquitous access to corporate information, encryption and compression of mail traffic, as well as unlimited Internet access throughout Russia.

While the price of the service is slightly higher than that of our Western colleagues. But with so far limited market this is justified. There will be more customers, the price will decrease. In any case, our customers see a big difference in favor of using the hosting model as compared to the independent implementation of the solution.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/106999/

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