Microsoft Exchange Online & Blackberry


Microsoft BPOS, the online versions of Exchange, Sharepoint et al has offered a Hosted Blackberry service for around 12 months now and it’s been pretty popular. The vast majority of organizations that use Exchange also use RIM’s Blackberry’s so offering them a way to push that off to the cloud certainly made the adoption of Exchange Online an even easier deal to sell. It was a pretty cost effective solution too, at £6/$10 per user per month.

As BPOS is soon transitioning to Office 365, with new versions of the MS software available in the cloud, there is also a change happening to the Blackberry service…well actually two changes.

1) The service will move over to be hosted, managed & supported by RIM.

2) The monthly cost is changing to £0/$0

That’s right, the service is going to become a free value add from Microsoft and not only that, it will be better than the current offering! From an email Microsoft sent to customers and partners this morning:

“administrators will be able to create and manage more device policies, change device passwords and settings, and search across large numbers of BlackBerry users at one time.”

The monthly cost is also changing for current customers right now, enabling them to take advantage of the zero cost straight away. This is a significant cost saving for companies, as an example – an organization with 150 Blackberry users would look like this:

£6 x 12 months x 150 users = £10,800 per annum

This move from Microsoft instantly saves almost £11,000 a year in the example above, and 150 BB users isn’t a particularly large installation either. Companies could/should use that money to invest in other areas of infrastructure…they could add Sharepoint Online for those users and still have nearly a 50% saving!

Current Customers

Current Blackberry Online subscriptions are being terminated on June 30, 2011 so if you’re currently using the Blackberry Online Service, there are steps that must be taken to ensure continuous service.

  1. Log in to Microsoft Online: Go to the Microsoft Online Customer Portal and log into your Microsoft Online account.
  2. Locate the Hosted BlackBerry service offer: Click Manage Subscription, choose an active BPOS or Exchange Online subscription*, select Buy Hosted BlackBerry from the Actions dropdown, and click Go.
    * This can be the same BPOS or Exchange Online subscription with which Hosted Blackberry was last purchased.
  3. Checkout: In the Shopping Cart, enter your total required number of Hosted BlackBerry seats** and accept the Hosted Blackberry Service Terms of Use (checkbox). Click Update, then click Checkout. The new $0/user/month pricing for all of your current seats for the Hosted BlackBerry service takes effect at new agreement signature. All users under the old terms of use are now covered by the new terms of use regardless of the user count entered.
    ** At a minimum, customers should enter the number of Hosted BlackBerry licenses in use today across all existing Hosted BlackBerry subscriptions. This number is visible in the Hosted BlackBerry Administration Console which is a part of the Microsoft Online Administration Portal.
  4. Cancel the old subscription(s): To cancel your previous subscriptions and avoid being billed for the Hosted BlackBerry service as of your next billing cycle, you must cancel any previously existing subscriptions through a Service Request, either by phone or through the service request form in your Microsoft Online Administration Console (MOAC). Service use will continue uninterrupted after cancelling the old subscriptions.

Bad News

The good news is that organizations can save £1000’s per year but there is some bad news. Unfortunately, RIM aren’t going to have the new platform ready for the General Availability (GA) of Microsoft Office 365; it will be “beginning in late 2011” according to Microsoft.

We’ve been told that companies on Office 365 will be unable to use Hosted Blackberry until the RIM platform is complete, so perhaps some 6 months after Office 365 becomes available. I am yet to get 100% clarification on this point but it appears this means that existing BPOS & Hosted Blackberry users must choose:

Stay on the BPOS platform with Hosted Blackberry for a further 6 months

or

Move to the new Office 365 platform and lose Hosted Blackberry for around 6 months

Not an ideal situation for anyone so I am looking to get more clarification around this ASAP and will update here. My hope is that although they are terminating subscriptions, Microsoft will keep their platform running for existing customers until such time that RIM get their act together…

Microsoft Online (BPOS) Update March 2010


Microsoft have once again brought out a raft of changes and improvements to their online BPOS offering, these include:

25GB mailboxes for all users: Self explanatory really :-)

Increased Sharepoint Site Collection Max. number: No longer limited to 20 site collections, organizations can now create up to 100 site collections!

Attach Files to Service Requests: You can now attach files to service tickets you open through the admin console. Max. file size is 5MB, max. total file size is 20MB and max. number of attachments per ticket is 20. I’ve never needed to do this but I can imagine it would be very hand in certain cases…sending screenshots etc.

Mac OSX Support: The Sign-In client now supports Mac OSX.

You can see the rest of the enhancements over at the MS Online Blog.

Microsoft BPOS Updates for November


Microsoft are constantly improving BPOS and adding new features each month, and November is no different.

Mailbox Access Permissions

Powershell commandlets are being added to increase the range of mailbox permission settings that can be done by BPOS administrators including:

  • Full Mailbox Access
  • Delegate Send As
  • Send On Behalf

These provide capabilities including:

“up shared mailboxes, granting “send as” permissions for administrative assistants, and enabling full mailbox access for third party applications, such as archiving applications and fax servers”

No more opening a ticket with support!

The CMDlets are:

Add Mail Permission

Remove Mail Permission

These will require an update to the Transporter/Migration tools which will be downloadable from MS Download Centre once the update is deployed across all datacenters; this should be completed by early December.

Bulk User Management

A new set of CMDlets for bulk adding and removing users have been added too. These will also rely on the updated Transporter tool being made available. The CMDlets are:

Sharepoint Auditing

Admins will soon be able to view data and reports on site collection activities including:

  • items added
  • changes to permissions
  • documents viewed

Having access to this information can help track the utilisation of the Sharepoint investment within the company and so will be very useful. Companies will be able to see how users are interacting with the system and identify any areas that need improving or conversely, which areas are a roaring success :-)

Partners on Invoices

Customers who use a Partner of Record will soon see that partner named on their invoices. From a Partner’s point of view, this is a great addition as it helps solidify the relationship between the Partner and the customer and reduces any confusion as to points of contact for support etc.

Once again, the updates have given BPOS an even stronger message and this, coupled with this week’s price cuts, should definitely see an increase in BPOS takeup.

The full MS Online blog post is here.

Microsoft BPOS New Features – August 2009


August sees yet more additions to the feature list of Microsoft Exchange Online-helping make it an even better choice for customers. This month sees:

SMTP Relay: This allows SMTP enabled applications to send emails via Exchange Online. I’ve been asked about this a few times now so it’s good to be able to say “yes” :-)

Journaling: Exchange Online emails can now be journaled, both to Exchange Hosted Archiving and other 3rd party solutions*. Journaling can be turned on by contact Support and opening a service request.

*It’s worth noting that MS do not support or certify any of the 3rd party offerings.

The MS Online blog can be found here.

Microsoft BPOS Partner features


Already this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is seeing great announcements and, if my time conversion is right it only started no more th an 1 hour ago!

These first announcements are around Microsoft BPOS and primarily concern MS Partners who resell Microsoft’s Online Services.

Partner Order on Behalf Of: This is a feature that I and pretty much every other BPOS partner has been waiting for; the ability to place BPOS orders on behalf of our customers. The current model of sending the customer off to purchase online themselves is quite alien to how this is usually done and can lead to confusion all around. Being able to order ourselves makes it easier for partners to be truly Value Added Resellers.

“..The feature allows partners to initiate trials, specify the services and quantities they recommend for their customers, pre-configure orders for their customers to complete..”

Partner Commerce Dashboard: This is again a great addition for Partners. This gives a consolidated view of the status of trials and orders for all the partner’s customers. The data can be exported to CRM systems via Excel too.

They have also announced that Delegated Administration to Partners will be available by (Oct-Dec) Q4 2009. This means that customers will be able to let their Value Add Reseller (VAR) perform certain tasks on their behalf, this again fits in better with the current model a lot of Partners/Customers have.

Original post over on the MS Online team blog here.

Microsoft BPOS available from Monday!


The much hyped, very exciting Microsoft Online Services will be available to order via the MOCP (Microsoft Online Customer Portal) from Monday 27/04/09!

Find more Microsoft Online here:

http://richfrombechtle.wordpress.com/ms-onlinebpos/

Microsoft Online/BPOS Guide


I’ve been working with Microsoft for months on BPOS, their Software Plus Services offering and getting the word out to customers etc…helping them align their business decisions with MS Online and more. I think that MS Online Services are excellent and will be a real game changer-allowing end users to increase profitability while simultaneously reducing costs and streamlining processes…what more could you want?! :-)

I’ve put together a guide to MS Online Services (collectively called BPOS) over at:

http://richfrombechtle.wordpress.com/ms-onlinebpos/

which should answer most questions you might have. I’m constantly updating it as I discover/remember more info but please feel free to leave a comment if you’re question hasn’t been answered.