NANOG:RE: [outages] News item: Blackberry services down worldwide

Scott Howard scott at
Thu Oct 13 21:42:00 UTC 2011

On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 12:21 PM, McCall, Gabriel <
Gabriel.McCall at> wrote:

> ActiveSync on Android allows corporate to force compliance with security
> policy and allow remote wipe. User cannot complete the exchange account
> setup without permitting the controls. If the user doesn't agree their sync
> isn't enabled. Moreover, if corporate requirements change sync is disabled
> until you approve again. That seems like it covers all the bases to me.

There's two key differences between ActiveSync and BES.

The first is that ActiveSync implementations vary widely between different
manufacturers/implementations/versions/etc.  There is a core set of features
that all manufacturers must implement, but it's a very small percentage of
the full feature set of controls that ActiveSync supports.  Things like
enforcing a PIN code fit into this category, but other options like
disabling the camera and (from memory) device encryption or even remote wipe
are NOT in this category.  As a result, even if you enable these features on
your Exchange/ActiveSync server, you can't be sure that they are actually
being enforced as you can't readily control which devices are being used
with ActiveSync, and (realistically) you can't stop a user from changing
devices so that even if you gave them a handset that supported all the
features you wanted, they could simply move over to a new device that

The second key difference is inbound v's outbound.  ActiveSync requires you
to allow connections into your network from outside, where BES doesn't.  In
todays world that's not really an issue - especially as most people will
have their email servers accessible from the Internet in some way or other -
but in BB's heyday this alone was one of the key differientators for
Blackberry v's anything else (be that ActiveSync, POP/IMAP/etc, or any other

With so many companies today working on the entire concept of Mobile Device
Management (MDM), Blackberry will fade into insignificance in the not too
distant future if they don't come out with something better than the
competition - but even today they still allow far better control over
handsets than ActiveSync alone does.


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