BlackBerry plus Microsoft Exchange equals Garbage

BlackBerry devices are garbage

As an IT professional, there are few things more frustrating than dealing with a BlackBerry device.

Here is a typical scenario:

  • Client: I see you guys offer hosted Exchange
  • Me: Yes
  • Client: Great! I can finally end the nightmare of manually deleting messages I’ve already read on my home computer after I’ve read them on my phone.
  • Me: Yes
  • Client: And you said this will work on BlackBerry right?
  • Me: Well, yes, but…
  • Client: Great! Let’s get started
  • Me: OK…

How to setup BlackBerry on Exchange

RIM has made the process of setting up a BlackBerry device on Exchange infinitely more difficult than their competitors. I’d get more joy from leaping over hurdles while on fire and wearing a Medieval suit of armor than registering a BlackBerry device on Exchange. Here’s the typical process:

  1. Convince the client to pay more money per month (15 minutes) – I have to convince my client to pay an extra $15/month to the wireless provider for a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) plan. Blackberries do not natively support Activesync, which allows most other devices to sync quickly and free of charge.
  2. Wireless Provider (30 minutes) – I have to call the client’s wireless provider, have the client attempt to remember their PIN number and other personal information, and ultimately be told by the support rep that they don’t know what the Enterprise plan is or how to set it up. Eventually I get forwarded to someone who does.
  3. Sync to BlackBerry Enterprise server (10 minutes) – I attempt to sync BlackBerry to the Enterprise server. This will fail if the client has ever attempted to sync the phone to BlackBerry Desktop Manager – of course, most people have done this. I will inevitably need to wipe the phone, but the client has pictures of their kids, dog, dog’s kids, etc. that must be backed up and saved.
  4. Setup BlackBerry Desktop Manager (25 minutes) – I download and install the 300MB BlackBerry Desktop Manager software with Media Director to make a backup of the phone.
  5. Backup the Phone (15 minutes) – I make a backup of the device to preserve user settings.
  6. Wipe the Phone (10 minutes) – The only effective way to unpair the device from Blackberry Desktop Manager is to completely wipe the phone.
  7. Enterprise Activation (10 minutes) – With a freshly wiped phone, the Enterprise activation process usually completes successfuly this time.
  8. Restore from Backup (10 minutes) – I can restore the backup of the phone I took earlier, and the client will have contacts, photos, etc. back on the device.
  9. Email History Issues (30 minutes) – I will soon get a call from the client wondering why emails are only prepopulated for 3 days, despite the 90 day setting in the phone itself. I will perform the steps in the following article to increase message prepopulation from 3 days to the maximum of 14 days. This requires me to repeat steps 6 through 8. I have to explain to the client that in 76 days, they will in fact have 90 days of mail at their immediate disposal.
  10. Why BlackBerry fails (30 minute) – At this point, the client is finally willing to hear my explaination of why an iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile or any Activesync-compatible device would have been a smarter purchase, and it could have been setup on Exchange in 5 minutes.

Total time wasted: 3 hours 5 minutes

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