Don’t Count Out BlackBerry Enterprise Service for Mobile Device Management Just Yet

Paula Musich
Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • With the much ballyhooed launch of BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, Research In Motion –  now called BlackBerry – is delivering a single management UI for managing iPhones, Android devices, and BlackBerry smartphones.
  • Enterprises that have significant BES infrastructure in place may want to consider RIM/BlackBerry for their broader, multi-device management needs.

As your IT shop evaluates mobile device management (MDM) and mobile applications management (MAM) products to help enforce BYOD policies, do not rule out the former Research In Motion (RIM), the creator of the BlackBerry, for which the company is now named.  If your enterprise is already a heavy user of BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server and its devices, you may find that the expanded level of iOS and Android support is enough to cover the basics.  With the rollout of BES 10, RIM/BlackBerry created a single console allowing administrators to control legacy BlackBerry devices, new BlackBerry 10 devices, as well as iOS and Android devices.  Underneath that uber-console are two distinct management platforms: BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a next-generation management platform that controls Android, iPhone, BlackBerry 10, and PlayBook 2.0 smartphones and tablets; and BES, for managing legacy BlackBerry handhelds.  Both management platforms include the company’s BlackBerry Balance containerization technology, which uses app wrapping to create secure policy wrappers around each corporate application and the data associated with it.  App wrapping does not require source code changes to secure the applications, and RIM/BlackBerry’s implementation allows administrators to wipe corporate apps and data if the device is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.  The company intends to deliver similar capabilities for Android and iOS by May.  Although management functions for non-BlackBerry devices will not be as rich as BlackBerry management, given that the company cannot control those other OSs and it still favors its own devices, they may be sufficient for enterprises that still lean on BlackBerry devices for personal productivity applications that are more secure.

At the same time, the company hopes to create a groundswell of renewed consumer interest in its re-architected smartphone OS through a new user experience that it believes rivals those of iOS and Android.  The new OS exploits the company’s strength in keyboard performance and takes predictive text to a much higher level, while providing a unique hub designed to streamline navigation between different applications.  IT can encourage broader BlackBerry 10 adoption among employees by creating a hierarchy of permissions that favor the more buttoned-down BlackBerry devices.  Of course, there is no predicting whether the new BlackBerry 10 will staunch the flow of former BlackBerry users toward iPhones and Android devices, but the company’s future does hang in the balance.  Given that, the company may even elect to use aggressive pricing to kick start momentum behind the new release, while leveraging its strength in policy management and control.  It may not be too late for BlackBerry, and existing BES customers could avoid having to start again from scratch in creating a management infrastructure around smartphones and tablets.

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