RIM formally announces free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express Software for IBM Lotus Domino

Volker hinted that this news was coming a couple of weeks ago, but I’m very pleased to note that RIM has now made it official:

BES ExpressResearch In Motion announced today BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express for IBM Lotus Domino – free server software that wirelessly synchronizes email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks between BlackBerry smartphones and IBM Lotus Domino without compromising security. The software is available today at www.blackberry.com/besexpress.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express uses the same robust security architecture of the market-leading, premium BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and includes more than 75 of the over 500 smartphone controls and IT security policies available with the premium version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server software. It supports BlackBerry smartphones on business data plans as well as most personal data plans*.

“BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express is a free download that is designed for businesses of all sizes. It provides an easy way for businesses to get started using BlackBerry smartphones with IBM Lotus Domino and it’s also an ideal no-cost software solution for businesses that want to allow their employees to connect their personal BlackBerry smartphones to their work email,” said Jeff McDowell, Senior Vice President, Enterprise and Platform Marketing at Research In Motion.

“There’s tremendous growth in work force mobility, from small businesses through to major corporations, and there is clear evidence that shows how smartphones can increase organizational responsiveness, improve productivity and help employees make the most of their time,” said Ed Brill, Director, Messaging and Collaboration, IBM Software Group. “BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express is a great opportunity for businesses to cost-effectively extend Lotus Domino to more employees on BlackBerry smartphones.”

This solution fills a major hole in the RIM product line, and is essential if RIM want to maintain their share of the Lotus Domino market – Traveler has been putting some serious pressure on them over the past year or so.  Having said that, its also massive for IBM – this will be a significant reduction in the cost of a Blackberry-enabled Domino environment for SMBs.  Great news all round!

However, there are some limitations you should be aware of:

BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express works with Domino Enterprise Server and Domino Messaging Server. It can support multiple Lotus Domino domain environments from a single Web-based administration interface and can be run in parallel with the premium BlackBerry Enterprise Server software for the same instance of IBM Lotus Domino.

The premium version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server for IBM Lotus Domino provides more extensive mobile device management capabilities, over 500 smartphone controls and IT security policies for more granular control, and is required for add-on solutions such as BlackBerry Mobile Voice System, Chalk Pushcast Software, the BlackBerry Clients for IBM Lotus Sametime, Lotus Connections, and Lotus Quickr, and other enterprise-grade systems. The premium BlackBerry Enterprise Server is ideal for managing company-issued BlackBerry smartphones, whereas the free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express is an ideal option for securely connecting employee-owned BlackBerry smartphones to the corporate network without adding software licensing costs to the company.

Seems reasonable to me, but may catch some out.  More info on RIM’s site.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!