Friday, April 3, 2009

Fud Buster Friday #34 - My Blackberry is FASTER than my Mail Client

Notice I didn't say Lotus Notes or Exchange. Yet how many complain about this and trash their mail server to go elsewhere?

I got asked this question in an interview once by a company which I really would love to work for some day.

A company was debating their future infrastructure, typical Exchange vs. Domino and asked what affects Blackberry notifications? Why do some execs (it's always execs isn't it? even my CEO has one) get email seconds or minutes before their mail client? Why would 2 people in the same meeting get notifications seconds or minutes apart?

Admittedly a loaded question, but it gets to the core of understanding messaging, telecom, wireless, devices, infrastructure and customers.

Here is my answer: As much as RIM would like to be able to say it's faster, it just isn't. Well not exactly. Where do you think your email is going first? Usually to your corporate email.

No matter what your email server, your admins, if they are smart enough, limit how often you can hit the server to replicate or for those MS impaired, synchronize. This helps server performance, network bandwidth and other aspects of performance in general. What it doesn't help is the user who absolutely, positively MUST have his email in seconds of it coming in to their inbox.

So let's say you can replicate every 5 minutes. Your Blackberry polls every (EDITED per comment)20 seconds. Now if you use Notes or Exchange on a server, and not locally, you will get notified, although not necessarily that it shows up in your inbox until refreshed. Blackberry wins.

If you run your email locally you must wait for the server to send you the email and that can be at anytime as specified by the admin or your client. Again Blackberry wins.

What about 2 people in the same meeting? Let's put aside they might have 2 different networks(Verizon, AT&T, etc.) and use the same devices. Which by the way is almost impossible as each carrier has tweaked the devices and use different networks. The next point of delay is the BES itself and it's proximity to one's mail file. Perhaps the 2 execs are on different machines for BES and even their mail and one is a slower machine or busier. There is also the possibility that each user has a different size inbox which can also affect the time to arrival on a device. You get the idea.

What astounds me is the executives who say this never happens in Outlook. Forgetting they mean Exchange, of course. I remind them that Exchange would not like their 20GB+ mail file they love in Lotus Notes. Imagine trying to search it on Exchange, if it could handle it at all efficiently.

What does one have to do with another anyway?

BES is slow, must be Lotus fault? And that logic would lead you to believe sales are down we should fire all the sales people and get new ones. There may be some truth in both opinions, but not much sense.

So is Blackberry faster than your email client? Do you really care? Is that really where you want to be spending your time and resources right now?

In the future you may only be using wireless as your medium of choice, if you are not already, and you will never know if it is fast or slow.

But you probably still hate it when someone gets an email before you....don't you?


  1. The polling interval is every 20 seconds


  2. In the back of my head i thought 20 seconds, but figured someone could validate it as I couldn't find it.