BlackBerry 10 devices are almost here - but how will you manage them?

BlackBerry 10 devices are almost here - but how will you manage them?

Summary: RIM's BlackBerry 10 devices are slated to hit the shelves early next year, but how will businesses be able to manage a fleet of the the new devices alongside the old?


With the new generation of BlackBerry handsets now just a few months away from launch, RIM is gearing up for its do-or-die enterprise push.

The first two new BlackBerry devices will be announced in January, so it's likely they will be available before the end of February. And along with the new hardware comes a, perhaps even more important, major rethink of RIM’s suite of device management products.

The BlackBerry 10 OS home screen. Photo Credit: Ben Woods/ZDNet

At the basic level, organisations can use BlackBerry 10 devices without RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), Jeff Holleran, senior director of enterprise product management at RIM told ZDNet: "We've designed the device so if you're a company that doesn't have a management solution in place, but has a messaging server in place that offers ActiveSync for connectivity, that end-user can connect them right up at the point of purchase to their enterprise account through ActiveSync."

For companies that want more sophisticated management, right now RIM offers BES 5 to support its existing mobile devices and Mobile Fusion to manage its PlayBooks, as well as third-party iOS and Android devices. But RIM's current BES product won't be able to manage the new BlackBerry 10 phones.

As a result, in the first quarter of 2013 RIM will offer an upgrade in the form of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10). That will give companies the option of adding BlackBerry 10 devices into the BlackBerry Device Service system said Holleran.

"We're also going to be continually enhancing our UDS [Universal Device Service] component for third-party devices and those are all components that as a BES 10 family can sit on one server," Holleran added.

This is the first step to consolidating RIM’s management products, he explained.

"Where we're going with all of this though is to bring it together into another service pack in the May time frame, and in that May update we'll bring the full platform to bear where it's one single platform for managing all of the devices [...] that use the ActiveSync as its main messaging protocol," Holleran said. "Once we've do that in May we'll also allow you to upgrade your BES 5 server with BES 10 so it runs both servers on the same physical or logical server."

Once you get to that point, businesses will have a single UI for managing all of its users and devices, whether it's BES 5, BES 10, EAS or something else.

A fine balance?

Let's not forget BlackBerry Balance either, RIM's answer to keeping work and personal content and apps separate on the devices, which has been knocking around since the start of 2011 and will play its part in keeping sensitive work data out of the wrong hands.

"The work side of the device is designed for the enterprise and the parts of the device that the enterprise would control. One of the things we've learnt over time is that corporation wants to control their intellectual property and care most about securing their data on a device," said Holleran.

This applies to apps too; so, apps installed in the 'work' space will still run when in the 'personal' space but it can't access any of the data stored in the other section. So, for example, you couldn't copy data from an email in your work account and paste it into your Facebook app on the personal side.

RIM hasn't written off managing Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 mobile platform either, but is not yet committed to extending its management tools to the new devices.

Holleran said. "So far we haven't seen a lot of demand from our enterprise customers that are looking to bring those devices in and looking for a deeper management perspective. If the opportunity is there in the market, we've built a platform that is easily extensible to it."

Topics: BlackBerry, Mobile OS, Mobility

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Are you sure about that?

    "..As a result, in the first quarter of 2012 RIM will offer...

    Are you sure you have the year correct?
    Susan Antony
    • Thanks

      Thanks for the spot. It has been changed now.
      Ben Woods
  • They work with Activesynch

    That is people can just put them on like an IPhone. That is what is happening now anyway and as much as I love the BES there may not be as much value in it as there was.
    • More like on an Android device

      More like on an Android device, which supports Exchange Activesych, and allows a remote administrator to control the device, and enforce controls such as a PIN lockscreen, and other security features.

      Additionally - and this sounds nice from a user perspective - where with an Android device a remote admin can force an entire device to be secured or not (by a lockscreen or similar), I believe what RIM is doing is allowing a "work" area of the phone to be secured, but not the casual or personal section, if the user wishes to have quick access to his phone, but secured access to the work data on his phone. That's a concept that no one else has implemented yet - although in Android, now that you can set up multiple device profiles (akin to Windows domain accounts), you could presumably create a "work" user and a "home" user, and log into the phone via those two different users - with the "home" user not being secure but the "work" user being secure and subject to the rules pushed by the Exchange Activesync provider.

      You can't do the multiple user thing on an iPhone.