Those of you that had the privilege to replace and upgrade Blackberry Enterprise Server Express for a client might know what I’m talking about, but for those that haven’t done it before; here is my take on doing a BES replacement.
First of all there is the easy way. Here is the scenario:
You have a Microsoft Exchange 2010 Server on one server and Blackberry Enterprise server on another server. Whether you have BESx running on a Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 Pro, the solution is the same.
- Backup your BESx database with one of the following tools: Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Manager (for SQL database), Osql (for MSDE database), BlackberryDBBackup.exe (tool provided by Research In Motion)
- Install your new server with the SAME Operating System than the old server. Give it the same IP address and Hostname and using the same user as your BES Administration account. (e.g. BESadmin)
- Install the SAME version of Blackberry Enterprise Server Express on you server.
- Restore you Blackberry database with the SAME tool that you used to back it up with. If you used BlackberryDBBackup.exe you will use BlackberryDBRestore.exe.
- Your job should be done and your BESx sound be working and communicating with all your Blackberry handsets.
BUT… if you want to go the difficult route. Try this!!!
One of my clients had a Blackberry Enterprise Server Express v5.0.2 running on Windows Server 2008 R2. The server became old and we decided to decommission the server and replace it with a new one. Together with that we decided not to use Windows Server 2008 R2 and instead use Windows 7 Pro. The reason we wanted to do this is that we want to use the Windows Server license for another server. Then we obviously want to install the latest Blackberry Enterprise Server Express v5.0.3 Sp1 to keep up with technology.
Sounds just as easy as the above “easy” solution right? NO!!!
After the Windows 7 Pro Workstation has been joined to the domain, given the same Hostname and IP address and permissions according the BESx installation guide, I installed BESx on it and it worked first time round including communicating perfectly with Microsoft Exchange 2010. All I needed to do was to restore the database and we are done.
I’ve made a backup of the old BESx database with BlackberryDBBackup.exe and Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Manager. When I wanted to restore the database I keep getting an error “Logging on to database failed”. After further investigation I found that in BESx v5.0.2, RIM allowed special characters like “!” and “@” and in BESx v5.0.3 these special characters is not supported anymore. Guess what, my database password had both the above special characters in it. This left me with no other choice than to leave the BESx with a fresh database and join the Blackberry handsets one by one to the server.
The client has only 19 Blackberry handsets so that sounded like the easiest option and the quickest. I mean how difficult can it be to join 19 handsets back onto the BESx server. THINK AGAIN!!!
Let’s start with the BESx installation guide. There is a step missing in the document that you need to apply on your Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 server to change the Throttling and to remove the BESPolicy from the server. This will allow you to add your Blackberry handsets seamlessly.
Here is a article that I’ve compiled specifically for this as it took me hours to find some information about this issue.
Then I found that as soon as you Create a New User on BESx (Remember these users were all previously on the old BESx server) the Blackberry Handset PIN shows up in the list of users, but none of the phones receive any emails. After lots of searching and trying to find a workaround, it became clear that I have no other option than to do a Security Wipe on the Handsets to remove the Encryption Key.
The Encryption Key has been placed on the Blackberry Handset by the old BESx server and the only way to replace the Key is to wipe the phone. You can check your Encryption Key on the Blackberry Handset by going to Home Screen -> Options -> Security -> Security Status Information. There you will see the IT Policy from your old BESx and also the Encryption Key.
To remove the IT Policy and Encryption Key from the Blackberry Handset do the following steps:
- BACKUP your handset. Do a full backup of all data and also sync your photos using Blackberry Desktop Manager. It actually happened that some users lost their photos even though a full backup has been made.
- Open the Blackberry Administration Services and click on the User that you want to re-add to the server. Remember, when you just Delete the User and create the same user again the organizational data from the old BESx server stays with the user. What you need to do is to click on the PIN of the Handset in Blackberry Administration Services and click on Delete All Device Data and Disable Device. (This is supposed to wipe the Handset automatically, but some phones I had to wipe manually)
- To wipe the Handset manually go to Home Screen -> Options -> Security -> Security Wipe. Type in “blackberry” and click on WIPE. TAKE NOTE: THIS WILL REMOVE ALL APPLICATION DATA AND SETTING ON THE PHONE AND WILL RESET THE HANDSET TO FACTORY DEFAULTS.
- Wait for the Handset to complete the wipe process and reboot.
- Then use either the wireless or wired method to connect the Blackberry Handset back to the BESx server. This will then start the synchronization process on the Handset and will display “Initializing Desktop Services”. When this process is done you will see the users emails start to sync onto the phone.
- Go back to Blackberry Desktop Manager and RESTORE the full backup you made.
I had to repeat this process on each and every Blackberry Handset, sometimes more than once on the same Handset. Everything is working again and after about 4 days I could sign off the project.
Only thing that bothers me is, what would I have done if the client had 500 Blackberry Handsets and not only 19?? That could’ve been a disaster!