Seven Networks Takes Aim at BlackBerry Server

Seven to launch behind-the-firewall mobile e-mail server at this week's CTIA show in Vegas.

Seven Networks Inc. this week will announce a behind-the-firewall mobile e-mail server that competes directly with Research in Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The Seven server supports a wide array of devices and requires no desktop software or cradle synchronization, said officials at Seven, in Redwood City, Calif., who will announce the server at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment show Tuesday in Las Vegas.

The server supports Microsoft Corp.s Exchange e-mail platform, with support for Lotus Domino due within a few months, officials said.

Seven traditionally offers hosted solutions and did not initially plan the server edition, but officials said there has been enough demand to warrant it.

"Some companies are just fundamentally opposed to having anything hosted outside the firewall," said Seven President Bill Nguyen. "It wasnt part of the plan, and we still believe theres a good argument for zero footprint. But this is a security blanket. It makes them feel better about it."

To that end, Sevens main carrier customer Sprint PCS asked Seven to create the product. "We had to do some convincing of Bill," said Kevin Packingham, director of business marketing for Sprint PCS in Overland Park, Kansas.

Sprint will be the first carrier to sell the Seven server software, which will be sold as PCS Business Connection Enterprise Edition Server Solution. It will be available in November through the carriers direct business sales force and will support several data-enabled phones from Sprint, including the new Treo 600.

Customers will not be charged for the software, which runs on Microsoft Corp.s Windows NT Server operating system, but they will have to own the hardware to run it. There is also no fee for user licensing.

(RIM charges $4,999 for its server software, which includes 20 user licenses, plus $80 for each additional user license.)

As with its hosted e-mail offering, Sprint will charge $10/month for the Business Connection Enterprise Edition Server Solution, on top of existing data fees. This should average about $20-$25 per user for unlimited service, Sprint officials said.

Sprint will continue to offer the carrier-hosted edition as well.

In addition to the server software, Sprint this week also will announce several enhancements to its Business Connection services, both for the hosted and enterprise server editions, which again are based on technology from Seven.

New features include the ability to preview and open attachments, a new Pocket PC client, multiple in-boxes that let customers view both their corporate and personal e-mail accounts, and the ability to upgrade software over the air.