RIM upgrades Enterprise Service ahead of BB10
BlackBerry BES 10 targets BYOD corporations, managing Android and iOS and creating separate work domain
Published: 23 January, 2013
All eyes are on RIM's launch of its BlackBerry 10 platform and accompany devices next week, but in reality, its survival is more likely to rest on the continuing use of its enterprise back end systems, even with end users carrying a wide range of smartphones under BYOD policies.
Despite a wave of optimism in recent weeks about BB10, its challenges are daunting - the huge installed base of Android and iOS; the emergence of new open platforms such as Firefox OS for those looking for a more modern counterweight to those; the poor track record of single-vendor OSs lately (webOS, RIM's tablet, even Windows Phone). Even if BB10 claws back some share in RIM's traditional enterprise base, it will be the back end services that keep it installed there.
No surprise, then, that it has unveiled the latest version of BlackBerry Enterprise Service, BES 10, early, to smooth the way for the new BB10 devices in the still-critical corporate space. RIM has steadily opened up its famous business messaging and device management platforms to iOS and Android in the face of BYOD, and the end of the BlackBerry-only corporation. Despite recent outages, it still has many jewels to offer in the form of security, management and messaging expertise, and BES stands a better chance than BB10 of capturing a significant role for RIM in the multivendor world.
BES 10 is now available to download, supporting BB10 as well as Android and iOS and, of course, legacy BlackBerry products including the PlayBook tablet. However, another older offering, the standalone mobile device management (MDM) offering Mobile Fusion, will be replaced by BES 10. Mobile Fusion functionality will now be part of BES.
"We're retiring the BlackBerry Mobile Fusion name, recognizing that BlackBerry Enterprise Server has been synonymous with MDM and high security for years. It's a brand that is recognised across the corporate and government community," the vendor told ZDnet. BES can be used to manage BB10 and other provided it is installed on a separate logical server. After this, old and new gadgets can all be controlled from one central console. In future, RIM will allow BES 10 to be deployed on the same logical server.
Among the features of the new platform is BlackBerry Balance, which divides personal and company information on devices, allowing IT departments to manage them without touching users' personal content, and without compromising security of work data. Pete Devenyi, SVP of enterprise software at RIM, told ZDnet: "Balance on BlackBerry B10 is a very significant evolution of the technology and has now been baked into the operating system at its very core, at a level we've never done before. Now, we have two completely separate domains on the device." Balance is activated when a device is enrolled into BES, automatically creating a separate work domain.