BESx vs BES - Some Simple Questions Answered to Clear Things Up

By IsaacKendall on 14 Apr 2010 04:05 pm EDT


You know the old saying, nothing in life is free. Well in the case of Blackberry Enterprise Server Express, it is actually is free. RIM introduced this version of BES at World Mobile Congress back in February. Up to than the BES was several thousand dollars to purchase. Plus the additional cost of client access licences (CALs).

For many organizations the cost of CALs was a big barrier for Blackberry deployments. I have encountered it many times in my years selling the Blackberry solution. Quite often they will opt for a Windows Mobile or iPhone solution because they don't require additional CALS

Now with BESx a Blackberry Enterprise solution is priced the same as a Windows Mobile solution. To find out what exactly a Blackberry Enterprise Server is visit my previous article.

Am I giving up any functionality by going BES Express instead of Blackberry Enterprise Server?

Actually for a small or medium sized business the BESx can actually be MORE functional that the full BES.

"Is that really true? How is the free version more functional?"

So glad you asked. The full BES has always had a few draw back (besides the cost of CALs) specifically you could not install it on the same server as the Exchange box & did never supported Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS).

Now if you're an IT admin, I know SBS is not a very desirable solution but in a small business it is a reality for cost reasons. OK confession time, I've installed over 100 BES' and I have installed it on the Exchange server EVEN on an SBS server box. It's not that it won't work, it's not supported. So if you need to contact RIM tech support you may be asked to put your solution in a supported configuration.

I've done some pretty wacky installations in my time installing and supporting BES. One time I actually installed a BES/SBS server on the microSD card with MojoPac & VMWare Server and ran it on my Blackberry 8300 - seriously. I always considered calling T-Sup just for the fun of telling them the BES is installed on my Blackberry.

The reason BES was never supported being installed on the same box as the Exchange server is to prevent finger pointing. "Well RIM my exchange server worked just fine till BES was installed on it." As they say in Latin, after it therefore because of it.

In small offices, servers & server licenses are in short supply so installing on the Exchange server can be necessary. And more often than not, SBS is also being utilized. So for that reason BESx is more functional.

So what are the differences between BES and BESx?

  • Cost - BESx is free with unlimited licenses; BES is Cdn $4,799 for software & 20 CALs
    • If you install BESx on the same box as Exchange you're limited to 75 users
  • IT Policy - BES has over 450 IT policies available; BESx has 35 IT policies
    • Unless you're the CIA 99% of the IT policies you gain in the BES are unnecessary
  • High Availability - not available on BESx
    • Simply, High Availability is the ability to have a backup BES ready to go on a different box to automatically pick-up the load if your primary BES goes down
  • Enterprise Transporter Tool - not available on BESx
    • If you are a small business don't feel left out because you can't have the Enterprise Transporter Tool. You probably won't have an environment where this tool is actually necessary.
  • Support for Blackberry Add-on products - on BESx you can't have add-on tools like BoxTone or Zenprise. More details to come after WES2010 on BES add-on tools.

For a full side-by-each comparison RIM has a PDF you can download from here.


I really like the BESx. I think this is a truly great product being offered by RIM. I am actively promoting it to my customers small and large. But for different reasons, small businesses for many of the points listed above. The true gold here is for large enterprises.

How I`m positioning this for enterprise customers is that this is something they can put on a server in the company and offer corporate email and BES functionally but with no CAL cost to the company.

One more amazing feature in BESx is the ability to attach a Blackberry to it without a BES data plan. You can have a BIS only data plan attached to the BESx. Here in the Great White North that is as much as $15/month difference for a 1GB Blackberry data plan.

Now a "non-BES worthy" employee can pick up a Blackberry on their own with a consumer BIS plan and still have their Blackberry on the BES, thus allowing them to have company email and calendar/address book sync.

Reader comments

BESx vs BES - Some Simple Questions Answered to Clear Things Up


I am pretty sure Verizon said they would require you to get the $45 BES plan in order to use BESx.

According to RIM and their documents, you can connect a BB to the BESx with "any internet enabled Blackberry data plan".

The only thing is if you have a BIS data plan you can't wirelessly provision your handheld. You MUST cable activate it.

Other than that as long as you have BIS access Verizon can't really stop you from using BESx.

i always read "you have to activate the handheld by cable"... i activated 3 of my blackberry handhelds with the normal enterprise activation wireless on a BESx

I have the BIS Verizon plan and it works with BES. I previously had the BES plan because I had BPS installed at work. Recently upgraded to BESX and downgraded my data plan to BIS and didn't notice one bit of disruption in service. I changed my plan online. I'm not quite sure how Verizon could block you or charge you for something that a product allows you to do? For all they know you just have a google gmail account.

Verizon will charge you for the BES plan!!! They are out of control. I mentioned to the csr reps at vzw and promised them at any chance possible that I would encourage any and all to leave their money mongering company and choose anyone else. I have been with the vzw company for many years since the beginning. I was first sold on them for their customer service. They have just proved over and over again in the past year or so... that they do not give a damn about their customers. Therefore I am leaving and encourage all to do so as well.

Do you know where I can get a full list of IT policies? I am considering moving some or all of my new users to BESx from BES, and I want to make sure all the policies we have in place now are available on BESx. I have done a bit of poking around on the BB website, but cant seem to find anything other than what you say about 35 vs 450.


Hospitals, Law firms, accountants, Federal Contractors(EDS, UNISYS, Lockheed), anyone how carries sensitive data.

I have a couple questions.

My current setup is a VZW 9630 on BIS with 2 emails already in use on the device. One email is an aol account and the other is my college account. Could I download and use BESx to gain access to contacts/address book/etc for the college account? The college mail system is Microsoft Outlook.

Sadly that won't be possible. Any flavor of BES requires a corporate mail server (Exchange, Group Wise or Lotus Notes).

There are options out there for wireless PIM sync ie Google Sync. They are by no means as good as BES but they do work.

Well that sucks. It would be nice to have easy access to the contact list, especially for a college community. Thankfully, those I contact on a regular basis are contacts in the 9630.

If it doesn't cost anything (except disk space and bandwidth, and maybe some admin time) it might be worth asking the college if they would run a BESx service, specially if you can find a number of berry addicts who want the service. Staff who want it would be even better!

I'm still rocking the 2GB card. Looking for a bigger card because i thought I'd never actually use anything more but I do.

This article states, "you could not install it on the same server as the Exchange box." While I am no BES admin guru, I have my full BES running on the same server that my Exchange server runs on. In fact my SQL server also runs on the same server. When doing the installation, I seem to recall RIM not recommending this configuration, but the software installer did not prevent me from installing everything on the same server.

If you continue to read the article it clearly says:

"It's not that it won't work, it's not supported. So if you need to contact RIM tech support you may be asked to put your solution in a supported configuration."

No one disputes your point.

Your quote relates to Small Business Server, not Exchange Server.

My only point in posting was to make people aware that BES and Exchange will run on the same server despite the author's unequivocal statement that "you could not install [BES] on the same server as the Exchange box."

While it may run just fine, RIM won't support that configuration. And because RIM won't support that configuration, you shouldn't install them on the same box. Get it?

According to RIM's Quick Start Guide for Blackberry Enterprise Server and Microsoft Exchange, "You can install the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express or the BlackBerry Enterprise Server - Small Business Edition on the same computer as your messaging server if you plan to implement 15 or fewer BlackBerry devices in your organization. If you plan to upgrade your installation to a full BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and support more than 15 BlackBerry devices, install the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express or BlackBerry Enterprise Server - Small Business Edition on a computer separate from the messaging server computer."

You can obtain the Quick Start Guide here:

What RIM does not support is installing Microsoft Outlook® on the same server as the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

You can read that tech bulletin here:

Got it?

I'm running BESx on top of a 32-bit version of MS Exchange 2007 on a VMware virtual machine. The 32-bit version of MS Exchange is trialware and continues working after the evaluation period has expired (180 days). It is free for use in a test, non-production environment. It's sitting inside the DMZ of my little corner of the Internet and I have my BlackBerry Bold 9700 activated on it.

I absolutely love the ability to synchronize all my PIM data (calendar, email, tasks and memos) wirelessly Over-the-Air (OTA) in realtime which is a bonus in my busy family. For example, it means that my wife can put a family event in the calendar in MS Outlook at home, and it appears instantaneously or thereabouts on my BB. Vice versa, too. Also, the WiFi-enabled 9700 will connect over the home LAN to the BESx server, meaning that I'm not using my data plan bytes. When I'm at work, same thing....I can use WiFi and the built-in Cisco VPN client to connect to my BESx server over the Internet for added security. Don't forget that you can also download and install the S/MIME support package from RIM to activate your phone with the ability to send signed and encrypted PIN and email messages while leveraging on certificates as part of a PKI (Public Key Infrastructure).

What an incredibly secure solution! No need for a BES plan either. I can see why enterprises use BlackBerrys but it's not too big a stretch to see how it might be useful on the home front, too.


see also

and with BESx, can you access your LAN (and servers on it) via wifi on your BB just as you could with BES?

I have some web services that I currently use with my 8900 via BES on the LAN, WAN and VPN that I would need to maintain.


Does anyone know if with BESX messages are delivered to and from a BIS Plan BlackBerry as fast as they would be on a BES Plan BlackBerry (within seconds). I have my BIS BlackBerry hooked up to Exchange via OWA and it takes a good 4-5 minutes for messages to send or receive.


Yes. Instantly. I'm using BESx on a BIS plan with Bell Mobility. The red message light flashes on my BB simultaneously with the message's arrival in my Exchange inbox. Impressive. Got to like that push email!

Ok but where is the link for the download... is this out yet? the link on the Blackberry site is not clear if this is the new one or the old one?

* If you install BESx on the same box as Exchange you're limited to 75 users

Just a clarification that if I install BESx on some other box [than Exchange], then I can connect unlimited users ??

So if I understand this correctly, all these 3rd party BES providers (like that charge $30/mo. just became obselete? Does besx sync calendar & contacts ONLY or does it also sync tasks and memos?

I'm w/ vzw and pay for the $45/mo. data plan for my bb tour. How do I go about getting setup on besx?

i could definitly use another one of these cards. i have dozens of movies and hundreds of songs that i would love to be able to have with me on that card when i leave my house. please give me 1..thanks soo much!!

current setup ... virtual SBS2008 Premium and virtual BES on a 2k3 member server. I currently use a BES data plan (with BES CAL), but my wife uses BIS.

If I turn off the BES server and install BESx is anything special required to make BESx work? Note: I would probably install BESx on different member server rather than SBS itself - firm believe in that you want to keep (any version of SBS) as pure as possible!

Could I use the existing BES CAL? for BESx?

Could BES and BESx work together?

I'm looking to get the best of both worlds with the least amount of aggrevation possible.


When we had a Blackberry Professional Server, we had it installed on a VM, independant of our Exchange Server.

When I installed BESX, I created a new VM and all it contained was the copy of BESX (Plus the Exchange Management Tools so BESX could communicate with the Exchange Server). The setup was pretty much identical to our BPS server.

For a day or so, we actually had both machines - BESX and BPS communicating with our Exchange server. As long as they're on separate machines, both can run indepenadtly.

With BESX, there are no CALs, so you don't need to worry about re-allocating the ones you use on your BES server.

I just finished installing ours.

We're a small company that was somewhat stuck in the middle.... Too small for BES (which made it cost-probihibitve), but Too large for BIS (We're a software company and needed full access to our servers).

What made it worse is the BES plans with Rogers are restrictive.... you can't combine the plan (if you're using a SmartTeam sharing plan), nor can you pool it with an internet plan, like you can with the BIS plans.

We previously were using BPS and while I ran decently, I hated the fact we had to pay $100 for each additional user, PLUS put them on a BES data plan.... which is a $45 cost.

I just completed re-activing our users on the BESX and it's running perfectly. I just converted my plan to a 500MB BIS ($20 cheaper than the 1GB BES) and now I don't feel like my blackberry is wasting money.

It's great that we can now easily add my co-workers to the server, without needing to provide them with expensive data plans.

Under the Applications folder, you should have a new icon named "Files". If you click that, you can type in the UNC Network Path of the folder you want to access.

My IT guy can not seem to get this working, he has BESx on virtual server so its not on with the exchange server but all the info he gives me for go to and domain name, never goes through. Is there some thing he has to do with policies first maybe default settings wont allow it?

A couple noteworthy items are left out that I think are worth stating up front.

AFAIK, BESx does not proxy any intranet/Internet access. This means that all web surfing goes out the BIS route, and not through your company's proxy/content filters. Also, no access to intranet resources.

Second, in a related manner BESx does not integrate with enterprise instant messaging like Microsoft LCS/OCS.

Third, it is not supported to have a BES and BESx in the same domain. So, it isn't an option to offer both in the same organization.

Actually, just like BES, BESX has full MDS connection services, even when using a BIS connection. BB apps can access your company's network, and if you use the Blackberry browser, the data is passed through the BESX server and your company's internet connection.

The second point is true. Just like BPS, there are no enterprise communications tools bundled with BESx. That's one thing that's left to the full BES server installation.

However, you can have both a BES and BESX server running on the same network. While they can't run on the same server, they both can operate on the same network and communicate to the same exchange server. We had both running as we migrated people to the BESX.