I had been hearing (for some time) about this new offering from Blackberry and subsequently Bell called Blackberry Unite. It is essentially a scaled back version of the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) targeted at home users. Unite! supports up to 5 blackberry devices and has a host of features. Since I have two working Blackberries, this solution seemed like a fit. It should allow for the sharing of contacts, calendar entries, and phone tracking and restrictions. Among them, most important was the Contact Sharing facility – something that Google’s Apps don’t provide for – yet.
The Installation Process
I just so happened to have Office 2007 Small Business Edition installed on this PC, which comes with a copy of SQL Server. When installing Unite! – the installer failed to worn of the current SQL version or ask for any authentication information. Instead, the application installed and left you with a broken Unite! setup. The average user would have been lost at this point. After removing the SQL Server and letting the Unite! installer place the version it wanted, Unite! was fine.
Second Time Around
So, the server was finally working, I needed a blackberry device connected to register with RIM/Bell. I did that and it worked well. I was then directed to steps that would install modules on the blackberry and activate it for the Unite! Server. I let it do that and the process was uneventful Afterwards, I took a look at the shared contacts, I was able to create a contact on the server and it indeed was shared to the blackberry device Over-The-Air (OTA). I could not, however, create a shared contact and send it to the server. The calendar sharing facility seemed to also work well at first sight.
I then moved on to the Email Setup. Since this blackberry has its own email address Username@bell.blackberry.net and receives forwarded email from Username@calwelltech.com – I proceeded to setup a @calwelltech.com email account on the Unite! server. The trick though, was that the Unite! server was sitting on a Rogers network – likely requiring SMTP Authentication. I managed to get incoming email working fine on the blackberry (the Unite! server dumped all the messages on the blackberry, with no control over that process!). The outgoing mail option did not have SMTP authentication! So, I was stuck here without being able to use the Unite! server for mail. One the Blackberry device, I was not able to get mail to move outside of the Unite! server. I eventually gave up on this install, removed the Unite! features from the blackberry and removed the software… a disappointment to be sure!
I thought, there must be a way I can make this work, so I took the blackberry device again though the process to see if I can make the Unite! server work. I installed the software again, went through the registration process again and connected this blackberry 8703 again. In this case I decide to exclude the email setup altogether. I tested email and the blackberry is able to send and receive fine.
I then looked at the shared calendar. I Created an entry on the Blackberry, shows up fine on the server. I create and entry for the user on the server, shows up fine on the device. I remove both entries at the device end, the entries on the server are removed. As side note, the device also uses Google Sync to sync the calendar and that process also still works on this blackberry after the Unite! services are installed.
Then onto the shared contacts, the most important feature for me. I created a simple test contact on the server and checked the device. It was created on the device under the category “unite”. I edited the contact on the device, and the server reflected that (with the exception of pictures, no support for contact pictures?). I then deleted the contact off the server (using the red x) and checked the blackberry device, it was removed.
looking now to the usage reports, the server seemed not to reflect the Internet usage of this 8703 device. Was this feature not supported by the 4.2x os? The phone usage seemed to be working fine however, showing the names of the calls and duration.
I did not look into other restrictions, wishing only to have the process working for the devices at this point. So far I have found the software working, though I’m very hesitant to install the process on the Curve I have…