Shameless Plug : I am available for hire to assist with BlackBerry support issues. Please contact me if I can be of any assistance.
Once every couple of weeks I see a question asking “What is my BlackBerry activation server address?”
When activating older BlackBerry devices – or new ones lacking WiFi – you simply enter your e-mail address and the password provided to you by your BlackBerry administrator and activation completes successfully. However, with newer devices you are frequently prompted for an Activation Server Address. This is a new feature available on WiFi capable BlackBerry devices. If the Blackberry has access to the Corporate WiFi network, but lacks cellular (ie GSM/CDMA) coverage for network connectivity, wireless Enterprise Activation can still be completed by adding the IP address of the BES, together with the email address and password.
What does this mean? Most of the time you can leave this field blank and not encounter any issues. If you encounter any problems I would suggest contacting your IT department. If you are the IT department I would highly recommend contacting a competent BlackBerry support provider for assistance.
Now for a little background info on BlackBerry in general. Unlike ActiveSync, you can’t just point a BlackBerry towards a URL and expect it to work. Rather you’re going to need to use either a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), BlackBerry Professional Software (which also has a free version available) or BlackBerry Internet Service.
Like anything in life there are pros and cons to all the choices. Instead of typing up a summary of each of the options I’ve selectively copied and pasted the following from Wikipedia and BlackBerry.com.
BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is the name of the middleware software package that is part of the BlackBerry wireless platform from Research In Motion.
BES connects to messaging and collaboration software (Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, Novell GroupWise) on enterprise networks to synchronize email and PIM information between desktop and mobile software.
Coincidentially, “bes” also happens to be the dutch word for “berry”.
BlackBerry Professional Software is based on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, but with simplified features that are relevant to small to mid-sized business. It offers many of the same advantages in productivity, management and security in a package that can be installed on your existing email server and is priced much more effectively than
BlackBerry Internet Service, or BIS, allows BlackBerry users to access the Internet and POP3, IMAP and OWA email accounts without connecting through a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The service is usually provisioned through your mobile phone service provider, though Research In Motion (RIM) actually runs the service.
In summary, if you want to get up and running quickly, BIS will get you there. However, there are downsides in that mail delivery is frequently delayed (up to 15 minutes in my experience), there is no central management and over the air contact & calendar sync are not possible as of the time of this writing. If budget allows installing a BES is definitely the way to go, but BlackBerry Professional Software can also get you the majority of features present in BES at a fraction of the cost. In the end you’ll have to weigh cost, expediency and management features against your business needs.