SolutionBase: Configuring your BlackBerry device

One of the most common mobile devices used by organizations is the BlackBerry. Here are the tips and tricks you need to know in order to get it set up and ready to go for a new mobile user.

Blackberry devices are quickly growing in popularity for both business and personal use. It is a perfect way for individuals to stay connected with their Exchange e-mail and calendar from any location that provides wireless network support. If a user has a mailbox on an Exchange server, messages can be relayed from the user's mailbox to the Blackberry device. When the Blackberry is connected to your computer, any messages, contacts, and so on can be synchronized. A Blackberry can also keep track of an Exchange calendar. Any new appointments in your Exchange calendar can be automatically sent to your Blackberry device.

Before you can do any of this however, you must properly configure your Blackberry. In this article, I will outline the activation process that needs to be completed before you can begin sending and receiving emails from a handheld. The article assumes there is an Exchange server on the network and a server that functions as the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES).

Three ways to get it done

There are three methods of getting e-mail to a Blackberry device. The method you choose will depend upon factors such as cost and network configuration. The three methods include:

  1. Forwarding mail from your existing email account(s) to your Blackberry device (i.e.,, it varies from carrier to carrier)
  2. Configuring your Blackberry account (using the Blackberry Web Client that your carrier provides) to poll your POP/IMAP accounts on a regular basis.
  3. Install a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) on your network that communicates with your corporate mail server (Exchange/Notes/Groupwise server). Unfortunately, this solution is by far the most costly. Individual users (the "prosumers" as RIM likes to call them) tend to go for one of the two options described above. If you really want Exchange, you can actually find hosted services that run their own Exchange servers and that have a BES as well. On the other hand, for companies that have their own Exchange servers and a large number of users carrying Blackberry devices, implementing a BlackBerry Enterprise Server may be the ideal solution.

On the server side

Before a user can begin sending and receiving email from their Blackberry device, some configuration must be done on the server side of things. First, the Microsoft Exchange Extensions must be installed. You can accomplish this by selecting Install Microsoft Exchange Extensions from the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Setup program. Once this is complete, you will notice a BlackBerry tab added to the Properties dialog box for each user's mailbox.

Next, you must launch the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Setup again to install the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Files. After you have installed the BES the rest is actually fairly simple. From the BES management console you just pick the Exchange user from the Global Address list and add them to the BES. Once that's done, the user must pair the device with the BES. With BES 4.0 you can do it wirelessly, but prior to that it involves hooking the device up to BlackBerry Desktop Software via a USB cable.

For the wired activation the machine has to have Microsoft Outlook installed and you have to set the default Exchange profile to be the userid that you added to the BES. Then when the user connects the device the device will talk to the BES and they will exchange symmetric keys. Once this happens, the device is paired to the BES and all email goes to and from the Exchange server via the BES.

Wireless activation is a bit simpler, basically you generate and mail a password (from the management console) to the user, who activates an enterprise activation application on the device and enters in the information they received (from their regular mail or via telephone) and then the device finds the BES and does the same basic thing, only more slowly.

About wireless activation (BlackBerry 4.0 and later)

Wireless activation enables users to quickly begin sending and receiving email using a new handheld device. Once a user initiates the activation program and supplies their corporate email address and activation password, the user is authenticated, security parameters are negotiated, and within a few short minutes, the user can begin using email from the device.

If your BlackBerry device is running software revision 4.0 or later, you can wirelessly activate your handheld on the BES server (if the server is also running the correct software version). Conversely, BlackBerry devices running software prior to this version have to use the BlackBerry Desktop Software to activate their devices, which requires a physical network connection.

You can verify the software version running on your handheld device. From the home screen, select Options and click About. Alternatively, you can see if Enterprise Activation is available from the list of Options.

With wireless activation, a user can activate their device from any location with a supported wireless connection. Once a user has an activation password from an administrator, they can use the enterprise activation program on the handheld. The activation password is a one-time thing. It is only required during the activation and can't be reused afterwards for another activation.

Activating your BlackBerry the wireless way

Once you have received your BlackBerry device, you need to contact your administrator or IT department for your wireless activation password. The password is set using the BlackBerry Manager and communicated to you using a secure method such as the telephone or email.

You should know that for security purposes, the activation password becomes invalid after five unsuccessful activation attempts. The activation password is also only valid for 48 hours. If not used within this time frame, the password will automatically expire.

The next step is to launch the enterprise activation program on the BlackBerry device. From the home screen, click Options. From the list of options, locate and click Enterprise Activation. Beside the Email field type in your email address (such as Next to the Password field type in the activation password provided to you by the administrator.

Once you have the password typed in, click once. A menu will appear from where you can click the Activate option. A status screen will appear indicating the status of the activation process.

An activation request is sent from your handheld to your email account containing routing information and the handheld's activation public keys. An email response is generated by the BES containing routing information and the server's public keys. The handheld and BES establish a master encryption key. At this point you should see an Encryption verified message on the status screen as the activation process continues.

A Waiting for services message will appear on the status screen as the appropriate service books are sent to the handheld. Once complete, the BES will send the following data to your handheld device:

  • Inbox
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Tasks
  • Notes

At this point, the activation process should be complete and you will be able to send and receive email, among other tasks, from your BlackBerry.

Installing BlackBerry Desktop Software

The BlackBerry Desktop Software is required to activate your handheld if wireless activation is not supported. This means you will have to install the software on your computer using the steps listed below. In order to install the software, you must be a member of the local Administrators group on the local computer. Since you are connecting to a corporate Exchange server, be sure the Integrate with enterprise email account is selected.

To install the software, locate the BlackBerry Desktop Software that you downloaded previously on your computer. Double click the installation file. From the Welcome to the BlackBerry Desktop Software dialog box, click Next. Use the drop down arrow to select your country or region. Click Next to continue. Review the License Agreement and click Yes.

Type in your first and last name along with the name of your company. Click Next again. When you are prompted to select one of the Email Integration Options, select Integrate With Enterprise Email Account as shown in Figure A. Click Next to continue.

Figure A

Select Integrate with enterprise email account

When prompted to select an email system, click Microsoft Exchange (Typically Used With Microsoft Outlook Clients) as shown in Figure B. Click Next.

Figure B

Select Microsoft Exchange

Click Redirect email using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server as shown in Figure C. If a BlackBerry Enterprise Server was not installed, you would select the Redirect Email Using The Blackberry Desktop Redirector option. Click Next.

Figure C

Select Redirect Email Using The Blackberry Enterprise Server

Choose a location for the installation files. Click Next.

The wizard will walk you through the rest of the installation process. Once you are complete, the Desktop Software Manager will be installed on your computer. At this point, the cradle can be connected to your computer and the handheld device docked to the cradle. The desktop software will be loaded onto your BlackBerry device.

Configuring the BlackBerry Desktop Manager Software

The last step you need to complete is to configure the software so you are able to send and receive email messages and perform other tasks. Begin by opening the Desktop Manager. Click Start | Programs | BlackBerry | Desktop Manager. The first time the software starts, you will be prompted for credentials. Enter in the appropriate information and click OK.

Next you will need to generate encryption keys. Double click on Redirector Settings. From the Security tab, select Generate Keys Automatically and then click on the Generate button. Follow the onscreen instructions and click OK once the status has changed to Generated.

You can now synchronize your emails, calendar, and so on with your BlackBerry. Once again open the Desktop Manager. This time double click on Intellisync and click the Configure PIM button. From the Intellisync dialog box, you can select which Exchange options you want to synchronize with your device. When prompted to select a translator, select Microsoft Outlook 97/98/2000/XP/2003 for Address Book, Memopad, and Tasks.

Change the translator for the Calendar to BlackBerry Wireless Sync. Click OK and select the Synchronize Now button (make sure your BlackBerry is in the cradle and turned on). Once the synchronization is complete, you should be able to send and receive email from your BlackBerry device.

That's it!

As you can see, setting up a BlackBerry device to send and receive email is not a difficult task if you have some understanding of the steps that need to be completed. This can help to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.