Upgrading to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0: The Five Stages to Success
To provide some expert advice in planning your upgrade to BlackBerry® Enterprise Server v5.0, we enlisted the help of the BlackBerry® Professional Services team. In the following article they provide a framework for the steps they guide customers through in designing their BlackBerry® environment and recommendations for a smooth transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 that will give you a solid understanding of the new features, their importance for your organization’s BlackBerry environment and management priorities.
The upgrade path to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 is best viewed as a series of five distinct preparation stages: evaluation, readiness, solution design, planning, and implementation. In this article we describe each of the five stages in detail and explain how it gives you the tools you’ll need to ensure a manageable transition. How you implement each step will be determined, in part, by how large your organization is. A smaller organization, for instance, may not have the resources to create a full-scale test lab to evaluate BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0. However, no matter what size your organization is, it still has to go through each of these steps as you implement BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0.
Getting hands-on experience with BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0
The first stage in a successful transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 is evaluation. This step involves taking time to fully understand the features and capabilities of BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0, including the new built-in high availability architecture, enhanced monitoring options, and advanced manageability. While online resources such as webcasts and demos can broaden your understanding of BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0, a thorough evaluation should include hands-on experience.
The best way to get hands-on experience with BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 is to set up a test lab with a server and BlackBerry smartphones running version 5.0 software. For testing purposes, anyone can download the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 trial software.
Once you’ve acquired the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 software and set up a test lab, run through a range of scenarios that reflects the ways members of your organization will use their smartphones and the accompanying software. Create a test-user pool, with members grouped as they are in your organization to allow you to test policies and manageability features. For example, if high availability is a priority, set up servers to test the new automatic and manual failover procedures. Also, test the new wireless smartphone application installation and updating features, using the same sorts of applications that your organization will be using when it deploys BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0.
By the end of the evaluation stage, you will have gathered a body of data and first-hand experience with BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0. This data will inform the rest of the stages of the transition by providing you with the information you’ll need to design an ideal BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 environment.
Upgrade Dos and Dont's
Don’t skip steps
It can be tempting to rush the transition process by neglecting the earlier stages and jumping right into the planning and implementation steps. However, it’s important to remember that every step builds on the work you’ve done in the earlier steps, so skipping the early steps can cause problems down the line.
Don’t do this in isolation
Change management is an integral part of any transition. Involve all teams that will be affected by the migration and work with them to minimize its impact.
During the planning stage, decide how you will communicate with people about the transition. Instruction manuals, playbooks and tip sheets will all make the process easier for employees.
Do look at your policies for security, IT and applications
BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 gives your IT staff more control than ever over your BlackBerry smartphones. This makes the transition to version v5.0 a great opportunity to reevaluate how your IT policies are being implemented in your BlackBerry smartphones. You may find that with the new version you can bring your mobile policies even closer in line with your desktop policies.
Don’t forget the users
Most important of all, don’t get so involved in the technical aspects of the transition that you forget the people that the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 is meant to serve. At every step of the transition process, consider the needs of the end-user. It is vital to integrate these considerations into all of the communication, timing, and functionality decisions that you make.
Determining what your organization needs from BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0
During the readiness stage, needs analysis is the name of the game. This requires taking a careful inventory of all the needs your organization has for its BlackBerry solution. Based on the information you gathered during the evaluation stage, you will determine how well these needs will be met by BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0.
For example, consider the needs of your sales team during the upgrade process. Do they need the maximum possible uptime for their BlackBerry smartphones? Does the entire team need maximum uptime, or just a certain subgroup? Should every employee be able to install software on their devices or should this feature be limited to a subset of employees?
Next, consider how BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 will address these needs. Continuing the example, based on the testing you did during the evaluation stage, do you need to run the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 in the new high availability mode to achieve the desired uptime? How will BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 implement the policies that you need in your BlackBerry solution?
Through this process of needs analysis, you’ll be able to create a checklist that describes which BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 features are a good fit for your organization and which features you don’t need. Once you’ve completed this comprehensive list, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Envisioning the BlackBerry solution that’s perfect for your organization
During the design phase, you will take the list of necessary features you created during the readiness stage and use it to design an ideal BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 solution for your organization. Fundamentally, this means deciding how many components, such as messaging servers, application servers, and databases, will be deployed, in what facilities, and with what capabilities.
During each step of the upgrade process, internal communication is important. However, during the design stage, communication is particularly vital. To design a BlackBerry® Enterprise Server that’s perfectly tailored to your organization’s environment, you’ll need involvement from everyone who will be affected by the upgrade. This includes the teams responsible for your messaging systems, network security, and technical support, the end users, and anyone else with a stake in the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0.
Communication on such a large scale can be a challenging task. One way to manage these communications is through a series of structured meetings, which can be divided into open sessions and breakout sessions.
Open sessions are meetings held with the teams within your organization that will be affected by the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 transition. These meetings are focused on sharing information and provide an excellent environment to explain to employees, in general terms, how the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution is currently implemented in your organization. This is also the time to share what you’ve learned about the changes and new features in BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 and how they will affect your organization.
Once your employees have the background information they need about the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 transition, breakout sessions, which involve smaller groups and are more narrowly focused on individual aspects of your organization’s communications environment, will allow you to solicit the feedback you’ll need in order to design a BlackBerry Enterprise Solution that works well for everybody.
Here’s an example of a conversation you might have during a breakout session. A member of your messaging team that handles the IBM® Lotus® Domino® servers might say, “We know that BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 interfaces with Domino. How will the upgrade to version v5.0 effect our work environment?” Questions like these will allow you to have design discussions in which you discuss what a particular teams needs are, in terms of the transition and the final implementation.
When you’ve created a detailed, complete blueprint of your organization’s ideal BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 end state, the design stage is complete and you’re ready to move on.
"The more complete your plan is, the more smoothly the transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 will be…"
Preparing for the transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0
The planning stage, in which you’ll fully map out your transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0, is the most involved and detail-intensive portion of the transition process. Here, you’ll compare your organization’s current BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 deployment with the ideal solution you created in the design stage and create a playbook that will allow you to smoothly move from one to the other.
The more complete your plan is, the more smoothly the transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 will be, so take as many factors into consideration as possible, including how and when new software and hardware, such as messaging, application and backup servers, will be deployed. Also determine what training employees need to receive and what materials, including instruction manuals, playbooks and tip sheets, need to be distributed in order to make the migration a success.
In addition to the technical aspects of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 transition, make sure you consider the end users and how they’ll be affected. For instance, users may have to be in the office to update their BlackBerry smartphones to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 software, so plan to transition employees at a time when they’re not on the road.
Also consider the order in which you’ll roll out the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 upgrade to employees. Generally, it makes sense to deploy to the most flexible and tech-savvy employees first, but your organization might have other needs that necessitate a different order. For instance, you may have a sales team that is out of the office for several months out of the year, requiring flexibility in rollout scheduling. You will also want to research first hand the effects of a mixed-version environment, so you understand how your BlackBerry architecture will behave during the transition.
Making it all happen
The four stages we’ve discussed so far are designed with one purpose in mind: to make the final stage—implementation—go as smoothly as possible. During this stage, you will enact the plan that was created in the previous stage over the course of your transition period.
Depending on the size of your organization and the complexity of your BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 architecture this transition period will vary from as little as a week up to as long as six months. Implementation is the hands-on part of the upgrade process. It’s when new hardware and software are installed, technicians are deployed and employees’ BlackBerry smartphones are upgraded. When you complete the implementation stage, you’ll have BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 running as you blueprinted it during the design stage.
Research In Motion (RIM) has developed several online resources to help your organization ensure a smooth transition to BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0, including webcasts, demos and more. Click here »
For the enterprise, the BlackBerry Professional Services group now offers BlackBerry® Migration Planning Services for BlackBerry® Enterprise Server v5.0. This group can be engaged to provide assistance with any or all of the stages identified in the article above. For instance, an organization with a lot of technical know-how might not need assistance with planning and implementation, but may need some help with the design stage. RIM is happy to help with just that, or any other set of steps, to make the transition easier. Click here for more information » or contact BlackBerry Solution sales at 1-800-327-9085 or email@example.com ».
Watch for upcoming issues of BlackBerry Connection for more topics on BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0, including an in depth look at High Availability, Manageability, Application Deployment and more.