Company moved from Blackberry to Windows Mobile, hopefully part of a trend

binblackberry With the economic recession continuing to bite and joblessness numbers increasing, the extra expense of supporting a Blackberry Enterprise server, with its extra per user license free has been a bridge too far from one company.

Global Crossing, a telecommunications firm which provides networking services such as VPN, video conferencing and VoIP in 60 countries and has over 5000 employees is in the process of moving from Blackberrys to Windows Mobile smartphones.

"RIM requires that you pay for a license for the BlackBerry servers," says Steven Schafer, Director of Network Services at Global Crossing. "You pay a license for every BlackBerry user that you have connected, and then you also pay for support and maintenance for the servers and users."

The move is part of its migration from Exchange 2007 to 2010 which brings new e-mail archiving capabilities, connection to cheaper storage, and a replacement for its current voicemail system, and bring along improve unified communications.

Windows Mobile 6.5 phones are the only ones that have the Outlook Mobile client that uses the new features in Outlook 2010 such as Conversation View of e-mails and having audio and transcriptions of voicemails delivered to inboxes.

Schafer is counting on such a smooth integration with Exchange 2010 and Office Communications Server.

The main problem with BlackBerry, says Schafer, is that it’s a non-ActiveSync device. As a result, you have BlackBerry servers running alongside the Exchange server, and also every mailbox with a BlackBerry connection to Exchange uses five times the connection resources that a mailbox with an Exchange ActiveSync client uses, says Schafer.

"I’d prefer all our users be on a Windows Mobile device because it integrates the best with Exchange," Schafer says. "But at the same time I would much rather have an employee go out get an iPhone than a BlackBerry because an iPhone uses ActiveSync and therefore costs us nothing, and a BlackBerry costs us money."

Current Blackberries will still be supported, but no new phones will be supplied, and the company hopes to replace them by attrition. 

At this point, Shafer says Global Crossing will still provide Exchange support for current BlackBerry users, but it has stopped providing new licenses and plans to reduce the number of BlackBerrys by attrition.

"We’re not kicking people off BlackBerrys but we’re no longer allowing new hires to be on the BlackBerry platform," says Schafer. "And we’re finding more and more that people want to be on ActiveSync phones."