Best practices for migrating an email deployment to VMware Boxer

Ensure VMware Boxer is right for you

Before deploying Boxer to your environment, review the Feature Parity Matrix to ensure that the functionality you are utilizing in your existing deployment is supported by the current version of the Boxer application. From release v4.9, Boxer supports IBM Notes Traveler with AirWatch Console v9.0 and above. For more information about feature comparison of VMware Boxer and AirWatch Inbox, see the Comparison Matrix.

Additionally, you must meet the AirWatch Console and (if necessary) SEG pre-requisites to fully support a Boxer deployment.

  • Basic administrative configuration for Boxer on Android and iOS is available in AirWatch 8.3.5 or above, however it is strongly recommended to upgrade to 8.4.8 or higher to take advantage of new capabilities and stability improvements.
  • If you are utilizing a Secure Email Gateway (SEG), it must be upgraded to at least 8.3.5 (8.4.8+ recommended).
  • If integrating with AirWatch Browser, you must use AirWatch Browser 4.6+.

The infrastructure requirements and more information is outlined in the Boxer Admin Guide.


Choose a deployment model

You will need to determine timeline and strategy.  Typically a MEM migration will consist of two phases;

  • Phase 1: Boxer is made available to users alongside the existing mailbox app (native, AirWatch Inbox, etc.).  Users are encouraged to adopt Boxer. but are still able to continue using their existing app.
  • Phase 2: A date is set in the future where access to the original mailbox app is cut off for users.  All users are expected to migrate to Boxer by this date.

For phase 1, you will have the option of deploying Boxer with an Automatic or On Demand model.  An Automatic deployment will require users to install and configure the Boxer application on their device, while still allowing access to the original app.  However, as multiple mailboxes will be syncing the same data, this deployment model will require increased data usage and processing power of end user devices.

AirWatch recommends the On Demand deployment model.  With this model, the Boxer application is made available in the App Catalog. When a user is ready to make the switch, they will be able to download and use the app at their convenience.  

In either deployment model, users will need the ability to remove their original mailbox configuration when they are ready to do so.  This can be done by switching the current Exchange-Activesync (EAS) profile from an Automatic deployment to an On Demand deployment.  This will not automatically affect email access for existing users.  However, it will give them the ability to remove the old mailbox configuration, either by deleting the AirWatch Inbox application or through the Self Service Portal.

When configuring the deployment model, the existing mailbox deployment should be switched to On Demand at the same time the Boxer deployment is initially made available.

If you are using a SEG to restrict access to certain mail clients, make sure to approve the Boxer client as a supported client type in this phase as well.


Configure VMware Boxer in the AirWatch Console

  1. In the AirWatch Console, navigate to Apps & Books > Applications > List View > Public > Add Application.
  2. Select the appropriate platform (iOS or Android).
  3. Select  Search App Store and search for "VMware Boxer"
  4. Choose Select next to the VMware Boxer application in the search results.
  5. In the Assignment tab, assign to the appropriate smart group(s) that will be using the VMware Boxer application.
  6. In the Deployment section, specify the App Delivery Method (Auto or on demand, as discussed in the previous section).  This field may be called Push Mode depending on your AirWatch Console version.
  7. In the Email Settings tab, specify the settings as appropriate.  Typically these settings will match those in the current Exchange ActiveSync profile deployed to devices.
  8. Select Save & Publish.  This will deploy VMware Boxer to all assigned devices based on the Push Mode specified.


Notify end-users

Once the Boxer application has been assigned to users, you should notify them that the app is now available, and that this is part of an organizational migration.  This is particularly important when using an On Demand deployment model.  You should also determine your messaging timeline and can create message templates in the AirWatch Console to easily send out notifications.  For example, if your migration timeline is 60 days, you may want to send out the initial notification, then follow up notifications at 15, 30, and 45 days, before sending a final notification after 60 days.  Message templates can be created by navigating in the AirWatch Console to Settings > Devices & Users > General > Message Templates.  Make sure to set the Category to Application and the Type to Application Notification.

You can send a notification to assigned users by navigating in the AirWatch Console to the Application List View page and selecting either the Installed, Uninstalled, or Assigned numbers under the Install Status column. 

You can further restrict the target audience by using the Status filter.  For example, you can send a message only to users that do not yet have the application installed.  Once the appropriate filter is specified, select Notify from the upper-left menu bar.



Finally, select the appropriate message type (typical Email) and the Message Template to use.  If you have created multiple templates, make sure to select the one appropriate to the current deployment timeline.



Additionally, if your devices are MDM enrolled you can choose to make a compliance policy that will validate which devices do not have Boxer installed and take some sort of automated action.  Alternately, a compliance policy detecting if both Boxer and AirWatch Inbox are installed can be used to notify users to remove Inbox in order to preserve battery life and lower data usage.  While setting up a compliance policy is not required, it can help provide automated instructions to users in many types of deployments.


Finalize deployment

Before setting up the final configuration, make sure to notify users exactly when this will take place.  Notifying them will reduce impact for users that have not yet migrated.

Once you are ready to finalize the deployment, switch the Boxer deployment model from On Demand to Automatic.  This will automatically deploy the configured application to all users who have not yet set it up during the migration period.

Next, you should remove access to the old mailbox configuration.  For deployments previously using the native client, simply remove the EAS profile from the AirWatch Console, or unassigned it from the appropriate groups.  For deployments previously using AirWatch Inbox, remove or unassign the EAS profile as well as the AirWatch Inbox application.  

Finally, if you are using a SEG to restrict access to certain mail clients, make sure the list is updated to only include the Boxer application.

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