Underwriters Laboratories Selects AstraSync to Connect BlackBerry Smartphones to Office 365

Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based versions of Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and other products, became available in a public beta last month, with Microsoft promising general availability later this year. So far, 100,000 organizations have signed up to test Office 365, which will replace and expand upon Microsoft’s current cloud-based productivity service, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

One of those testing the service is Tom Boxrud of Underwriters Laboratories in Illinois. As part of the testing Boxrud discovered that his on premise BES server will not connect to the hosted Office 365 Exchange service.

Boxrud was told by Microsoft that Office 365 could launch for real in June. But Microsoft isn’t confirming that date publicly, nor will it say exactly when the BlackBerry cloud service will launch.

“Office 365 will launch later this year,” a Microsoft spokesperson said via email. “RIM has also indicated that their BlackBerry cloud-based service will launch later this year. If there is a gap in availability between the two, we expect it to be small, but we do not have more details to share at this time.”

While the on-premises BlackBerry servers owned by enterprises will not connect to Office 365 at first, RIM expects to offer that capability at some point. But while RIM promises the cloud service in 2011, it doesn’t say when it will provide the ability to hook on-premises servers up to Office 365.

Underwriters Laboratories has a mitigation strategy in place, using AstraSync to provide Exchange ActiveSync connectivity to BlackBerrys. The “silver lining,” Boxrud says, is that this has spurred his organization to start moving its 1,200 BlackBerry users to newer platforms such as iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7, which also connect via Exchange ActiveSync.

[Content adapted from original article: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/042011-blackberry-microsoft-cloud.html]

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