SteelCloud offers one-stop Blackberry appliance

Bundle to allow SMBs with minimal expertise to host their own in-house Blackberry mobility system

Compliance systems provider SteelCloud has launched a one-stop product designed for small to medium businesses (SMBs) looking to roll out a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) throughout their organizations.

The SteelWorks Mobile one-stop bundle has been developed in conjunction with Research in Motion (RIM), to allow SMBs with a minimal amount of expertise, to host their own in-house Blackberry mobility system.

"The SteelWork Mobile bundle consists of SteelCloud hardware, namely a high-end Intel-based server built by SteelCloud," said Nigel Hughes, VP of sales at SteelCloud. "This is a one-off configuration and is a commercial offering using off-the-shelf components. It runs either Microsoft Server 2003 or 2008. The bundle also includes SteelCloud software and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)."

SteelCloud has made a name for itself as a developer and manufacturer of compliance-based technology systems, and mostly designs and builds specialized servers and appliances for US federal integrators, software vendors and volume users.

However, the company branched out when it realized that there was a need, particularly in the SMB sector, for a one-stop package for companies looking to rollout Blackberry devices across their organization.

"There are 100,000 BES installed around world," said Hughes "Over 70 percent of which is in the United States. This market is still in its infancy and we see allot of opportunity for growth."

The SteelWorks Mobile offering is designed to be plug-and-play, which is especially important considering that it can take anywhere from 4 to five hours, or even up to a day, to get BES installed and up and running, even with a relatively experienced system administrator doing it.

SteelCloud's appliance comes with an installation wizard, which it claims allows for BES to be easily installed (even for non technical people) and up and running, sometimes in less than half an hour.

"You do not require any technical expertise to do this installation," Hughes told Techworld. "We have automated 80 to 90 percent of the process."

Users simply plug in the appliance, follow the easy to use wizard, and then they can use their BlackBerrys. Up to 2,000 Blackberry handhelds can be supported. A guided demonstration of the installation process of a BES server can be seen here.

SteelWorks Mobile works with the three popular mail servers, namely Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, and Novell GroupWise.

Besides easing the installation of a BES, SteelWorks Mobile also comes with two additional components.

The first is an inbuilt backup and restore option, that allows full snapshot and rollback recovery options. "It offers users the ability to create a check point of where the current configuration is at any point in time," said Hughes. "It creates an image of the system, and can be restored back to that image at any point in the future."

The second is SureAudit, SteelCloud's method for guaranteed accuracy in reporting Blackberry licences. "It manages the usage of Blackberry licences," said Hughes. "If you exceed it, it will detect the over-usage and prompt the administrator to act."

SteelCloud offers a free 30 day evaluation of SteelWorks Mobile, which includes the hardware server and all required software. Users simply plug it in and follow the instructions. There is also a lease option, from US$249 a month, for those companies with not wishing to resort to initial hardware outlays, or with those with limited access to technical support.

"The cost of actually acquiring the hardware, the Microsoft operating system, and the cost in terms of manpower time for installing, means that most people do not have the expertise to do this internally," said Hughes. "We looked at the cost and made it every competitive."

An entry level system (20 Blackberry smart phone users), costs in the region of US$7,000 to $8,000. SteelCloud is not currently available in the U.K., but interested parties can contact the company direct. Meanwhile, SteelCloud says a U.K. presence is imminent.

"We are talking to a number of international participants and are working on international modelling right now," said Kevin Murphy, executive VP and CFO.

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