If BB10 upgrades are a nightmare, why not jump to iPhone now?

If BB10 upgrades are a nightmare, why not jump to iPhone now?

Summary: RIM is getting ready to help business upgrade to BB10 and BES 10, but if you need help to do it, why not just do something else instead?


We now know that next January, to coincide with the launch of BlackBerry 10, RIM are making available a whole bunch of resources to help enterprises make the transition from the old RIM devices (your BlackBerry 7 Curves, Bolds, and the like) over to the new shininess that is BlackBerry 10.

Those resources and attended incentives are packaged up in something called the "BlackBerry 10 Ready Program".

Question is -- if this ends up being anything more than a "click and go" upgrade, wouldn't you just be better diverging off of the RIM platform altogether?

Get ready

The way this works is this. To run BlackBerry 7 devices, as an enterprise you will have Exchange installed. You will also have a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) sitting in your data center that shuttles data between Exchange and the handsets. Throughout RIM's history this both the handset OS components and the server components have been built, from the ground-up, by RIM.

Read more

RIM launches readiness program ahead of BlackBerry 10 release

RIM launches readiness program ahead of BlackBerry 10 release

In preparation for BlackBerry 10, RIM is now offering a bevy of services, tools and information for enterprise customers -- including an offer to grab a new BlackBerry 10 device for network testing.

(In this article I'll be referring to "BES v5" to mean the existing product that manages BlackBerry 7 devices and earlier.)

In today's language, we'd tend to look at BES v5 as a mobile device management (MDM) product. What MDM does, regardless of mobility platform, is allow the business to drive down management policies. Things like "this device needs to have a password". It also allows you to wipe and kill a device that's no longer in the enterprises purview. There is also the idea of mobile application management (MAM), which is where the enterprise allows you to push down private apps and control which apps the user can install. Any more than a tiny number of handsets and you need a competent MDM/MAM story in place.

In the new world of BlackBerry 10, having seen the writing on the wall from the competition, RIM have junked their old systems and have bought in new systems which they have made their own by liberal application of software engineering. The handset's new operating system is based on QNX, a technology that they bought back in summer 2010.

The replacement for BES is based on a product called 'Mobile Fusion', but will be renamed BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES 10). Like BlackBerry 10, BES 10 isn't something RIM has owned throughout its history, it's something that they've built on top of a product that they've bought in.

The important part here is that there's a split. Neither part of the puzzle is an evolution of the main software stack that existing, deployed systems are based on. The fact that they are owned by RIM and marketed as "BlackBerry" isn't relevant from an engineering perspective.

So, the part of the "Ready Program" that I'm interested in here is a series of webcasts and other supporting resources to help the business upgrade to BES 10. It got me thinking -- if upgrading to BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 is so easy, why are they having to educate people how to do it?


Putting together a bunch of resources to help customers is both expected, and responsible. Of course RIM should help customers with the upgrade. It's perhaps unfair of me to just assume that the upgrade process will be difficult just because they're trying to support customers with it. My point is more subtle...

The problem here is that, unlike past BES upgrades and past handset upgrades, the move to BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 is a cold, hard reboot. In fact, it's more than a reboot. It's taking the entire thing apart, melting it down for constituent materials, selling those materials on the open market, taking the cash from the sales, and then R&D'ing and entirely new replacement product from scratch based on stuff you've bought from somewhere else. It's a reboot so fundamental and vast in scope that it redefines the very notion of what we mean by a "reboot".

First thing we need to understand is that BES 10 is not just a product for managing BlackBerry 10. It can manage iOS and Android devices as well. Thus, if you put BES 10 in your organisation you can bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and/or enterprise supply any combination of BlackBerry 7 devices (you'll still need your BES v5 if you do this), BlackBerry 10, iOS, and Android.

But take this Gartner Magic Quadrant on MDM from May this year. Gartner didn't include Mobile Fusion in that report because (emphasis mine):

RIM is just getting to commercial availability of its MDM platform, Mobile Fusion. Although it doesn't meet this year's criteria because of market launch timing, it does have an installed base of 10,000 enterprises that it can target. RIM won't bring any new capabilities to managing iOS and Android this year that others can't do, but could be a force if it decides to invest more in this area.

Throughout my observations of RIM's moves over the past year with BlackBerry 10 and BES 10, I've always assumed that it would be a straightforward "rip and replace" exercise to go from one to the other. However, as BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 are new products that are untested in the general market, one has to assume that any upgrade will contain risk that needs to be managed. How much risk we can't say at this point, but we do know that if we don't want to avoid getting fired, we will need to manage that risk.

However, another process that contains difficult-to-quantify risk that we need to manage lest we get fired is the process of rolling in any other enterprise-managed or BYOD strategy. You're going to have to do this work anyway, so you might as well assume that sticking with RIM and going from BlackBerry 7/BES v5 to BlackBerry 10/BES 10 is an equal amount of heartache as doing something else. It's illogical to assume that the upgrade to BlackBerry 10/BES 10 will be easier than just recycling all of your BlackBerry 7 handsets and buying iPads, or going BYOD.


Of course, smartphones are deathly dull things. What's not dull is this: tablets.

In 2013 I believe that we'll start seeing significant uptake of tablets in the enterprise as a platform for solution delivery. Enterprises are starting to pull off moves like Barclays recent purchase of 8,500 iPads.

Oh, by the way, here's a recent list of large-scale iPad deployments produced by Eric Lai. That Barclays thing isn't a one off.

Where this crosses over is that if you have to install an MDM/MAM solution in your enterprise, given that smartphones are boring and tablets are exciting, might it not be better to invest time and money in an MDM/MAM solution that's a leader in the tablet space? Typically, established MDM/MAM products will manage old BlackBerry 7 devices too, and seeing as BlackBerry 10 "talks" Exchange ActiveSync, leaders in the MDM/MAM space should be able to do basic, or even "good enough" management of BlackBerry 10 as a well if you are so inclined.

(And I'm not saying this needs to be iPad -- we can now start talking about Windows tablets in this context too, although the MDM/MAM story is currently complicated. Stay tuned.)

You know what they say about the law of unintended consequences, it seems to me that RIM are creating a perfect opportunity for CTOs to start thinking about a world post-RIM.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

Topics: Smartphones, Mobility, BlackBerry

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  • BES10/BB10 is not around yet. How do you know it IS a nightmare?

    To answer your question directly:
    - I've never had problems managing any BES. Why would BES10 be any different.
    - I will get a free trade-in for every BB10 handset. Migration will cost me next to nothing
    - Other platforms do not have an cost/feature solution like BES.
    - One other thing: with BB10 I will not have to use BES if I don't want to. BB10 will support Exchange Activesync policies.

    In case you haven't read it, today Zack Whitaker wrote on a similar article:
    "BlackBerry Enterprise Server License Trade-Up Program

    The smartphone maker has said that it will offer customers who buy BlackBerry 10 smartphones the ability to 'trade-up' their existing BES client licenses. For instance, every license currently on your existing BES network will be upgradeable to BES 10. If an organization has 500 BlackBerry 7 devices, and you buy 500 new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, RIM will grant those licenses free of charge on a one-for-one basis, until the end of 2013.

    This tool will be made available to enterprise customers in January, the firm said.

    BlackBerry 10 Readiness Services

    RIM said it will offer customers with a "smooth migration path" to BlackBerry 10. The smartphone maker will be providing enterprises with change management and planning migration tools, along with application development services. These will be available in January ahead of the launch of BlackBerry 10.
    • Umm

      When was the last time anything went "Smooth" with RIM?? My god.. you finally have the choice to not use BES and use Active-Sync?? What a break through.. Hello 2005.. way to catch up RIM.. Dying company with a frugal effort to create excitement and bring back customers.. ie. Zune, HP Touchpad & Gateway computers.. :)
      • I'm not pushing BES...

        thats a decision every company should take on their own. BES does have advantages. My reason to reply is the author of the article has written an opinion article on something thats is not even out yet. If he can I believe he should add fortune telling to his resume. By the way BES does go smoothly for many and has for many years.
    • Apparently those iGadgets dont need server infrastructure either???

      We all know corporate email runs on another server platform to handle IOS, such as the Good app and/or another MDM solution. From what I've seen they have there own headaches so I would ask the author to explicitly mention what the alternatives entail. They certainly dont mean throwing out your BES and introducing some ipads. It would be interesting to see what those enterprises are running on their ipads.

      I can tell you that my observations of our MDM console shows a high number of Angry Birds, Talking Giraffe, Talking Cat, Word games etc. I'd hazard a guess of around 80% games. Maybe that's what other enterprise clients do and I'm being an idiot wanting apps to help me work better.

      And before anyone mentions it.... Enterprise apps are ring-fenced / encrypted so little of the appstore is valid. There's no way data should be leaked out and given that you can use iexplorer to read the contents of a locked IOS device is pretty easy to see why. Locked but not as we know it!
  • Options

    Unsure it's a nightmare. We've had Fusion installed since Blackberry World 2012 (May) and it's matured steadily up to the current build we're on. It's not anymore difficult than installing any other MDM and the key thing not mentioned in this that I believe favors RIM are two things other MDM solutions fail badily at:

    1. Enterprise support
    2. Cost

    RIM has a solid technical support structure, other MDM vendors are much smalled and you often do not get immediate response or knowledgable staff (not just a MDM vendor thing lately as all intitial calls seems to go a level 1 phone logging techs only with basic script trouble shooting skills)

    RIM is also agreesive with their MDM via CAL. For BB10 devices you can convert any of your BES 5 CAL for no cost. Considering the growth of other mobile devices pretty much every company has some CAL's they have available to at least check out RIM's new platform. Their iOS and Android CAL currently is trending to be half the cost of other MDM. That matters considering budgets.

    I'll throw in another big one. EVERY MDM is at the mercy of Apple and Android to provide API to control these devices. So there is no secret sauce between them - they ALL basically can do the same thing just layer on different GUI. Their all snapping up other mobile related vendors to bolt them onto their solution. This makes the cost go up and added complexity. With something like 40 different MDM vendors there are plenty of options. How do you RFP that? Sticking with a vendor you've used for years (RIM) could have appeal.

    So back to your overall RIM's new solution is a mess and complex slant. Is the new BES complex? If you've been around MDM and enterprise mobile solutions it's nothing you haven't seen. RIM is getting there and the "single pane of glass" approach for the console is appealing. They need to improve their MAM features as APP wrapping is the next big thing. But not every company will want MAM feautres. I think the big issue is the PUSH appeal that made BB so popular works a little different due to the use of ActiveSync. It's a little slower now.

    RIM took a ton of feedback (and continue to) and have a host of options for corporations to support BB10.

    - Don't have a need for MDM and want to go cheap? They support EAS
    - Want to stay BB only? The new solution can do that and is covering the majority of policies BES 5 had
    - Want to support iOS and Android? They have a solution for that
    - Want a secure container model? They have a solution for that

    Pretty much the checklist companies will have in what they want in MDM / MAM RIM will have something. Is it better / worse remains to be seen as these solutions are ALL still maturing. No one has a project that is what BES 5 is. It's the holy grail of MDM.

    What's funny is a chat often with other peers that support enterprise mobility and everyone is looking at other MDM. Some have Good, some MobileIron, Some AirWatch etc and their all looking at other solutions and keeping tabs on each platform. This is due to the products are a stop gap to the next best thing which no vendor has yet. Part of the struggle is BYOD and the controls of the past are not possible. The days of corporate liable fleet deployment are going away so the challenge of how to manage devices (and data) is complex. You can't just lock it all down and say this is what you can do (well you could but no one will want to use their device for work).

    A correction for the article. At the moment RIM is not providing API for other MDM to manage BB10 devices. If you want to manage BB10 you will need their new MDM or be limited to Exchange ActiveSync only.
    • Well said

      You sound far more qualified than the author, the editors should pay you what they paid the author, it was a much more informative read and lacked the biased unsubstantiated opinions. These biased anti rimm articles seem to be just baiting readers, there's little journalism going on here.
    • You're in the wrong job!

      Well said sir.
  • "RIM won't bring any new capabilities to managing iOS and Android"

    Because iOS and Android are managed by a third-party protocol, ActiveSync. BES doesn't have any backdoors to introduce deeper restrictions.

    The question is will BES10 offer additional management tools for BB10 beyond iOS/Android level management to the depth BES admins have grown to expect in their current environment via some sort of analogue to the current SRP arrangement while allowing third party MDMs to do market-level admin to ensure they aren't shut out of shops who didn't go with Mobile Fusion/BES10.

    My BES5 has something like 30 tabs in the Policies menu to manage BB7.1 devices, including the ability to set custom policies for Applications, and if BES10 can't replicate that level of granularity for BB10 devices they aren't reading their target market correctly.
  • Anti-rim

    A very anti-rim article that has very little to do with any kind of facts. I don't own a blackberry so don't know how good or bad it is but it seems this company is always attacked just for not being Android or Apple versus not being good.
    • You don't own a BB

      device - have you ever? I have - I've owned several of them from an 8703e with the trackwheel to the Storm - with a couple of Curves and a Bold between... it was my work phone. I decided as an experiment to use my personal iPhone for exchange and for our work order system and I found that I would get emails and work orders 10 to 15 minutes faster on my iPhone. I replaced my BB (at the time it was the Curve 3G) with a Samsung Galaxy S and found that I was getting emails and work orders about the same time my iPhone did. RIM has one thing going for it - it is the most secure mobile device out there. IF RIM can get their act together and make BB 10 a killer OS and couple that with decent hardware then they can pull themselves out of their downward spiral.
      • Weird

        Sounds like the BES wasn't configured properly. Our routing on BES is often faster than Outlook. BB routing is around 2-5 seconds. Best I can get with ActiveSync is 1-2 mins, this is due to the polling method and non push nature of EAS.

        Can people really start comparing old Blackberry devices to current devices? My i7 is better than the 486 I have in the basement. Seperate devices that service totally different usage.

        The NOC is indeed a powerful thing RIM has that no other platform has. In a sense RIM's had a "cloud" solutions for years
      • Something not right

        My BES (included with MDaemon Messaging Server) delivers email to my BlackBerry within 5 seconds usually. ActiveSync devices can also get it that fast, but they tend to run the battery down faster than BB.
        John Hanks
  • Because...

    Going from a Blackberry to an iPhone is *not* an upgrade.
    • Having used several Blackberry devices

      3 iPhone devices, and 2 Android devices I can say for certain that YES indeed going from a Blackberry to an iPhone is indeed an upgrade as far as the current crop of Blackberry devices is concerned. Will BB 10 bring something different, easy to use, and will take RIM out of the downward spiral they are in? I hope so.
      • Depends on the usage

        I'd say Blackberry still excels for email / PIM and voice operation. All things the current devices have subpar support for. I prefer my 9930 anyday than the iPhone or Samsung S III I also use. My need is email and voice - everything else is time wasting. I rarely even use Apps on any device anymore.

        Let's face it people want an iPhone / Android for Apps and internet not work email / PIM and voice. It doesn't help RIM the trend are uber large screens.
  • Thanks to my employer's BES infrastructure ...

    ... I have been a BlackBerry user since 2004. After 8 years, I am done with it!

    Most of my colleagues abandoned BlackBerry long ago - at our peak, we had 2500 BES users, we are now down to 250!)

    If you ALREADY support Exchange ActiveSync (to keep the non-BlackBerry people connected), it is not at all clear that one should spend any time at all upgrading to BES 10 - especially if new BlackBerry 10 devices support Exchange ActiveSync.

    Just let your employees buy the smartphone of their choice and if it won't run on BESv5, let them run ActiveSync, just like all those iPads, iPhones, and Android devices.
    M Wagner
    • Notes Sync

      How do you sync your Notes/Memo's with Outlook and the device?
      John Hanks
    • That's because

      That's because the currentl like of BB phones is 2 years old. The new phones will vault RIM beyond both Android and Apple.
      Susan Antony
  • Is bashing non-Apple tech a theme for Tech Writers?

    I'm beginning to feel that way. BE10 hasn't even hit the market and this guy wants to shred it in the eyes of IT and consumers around the world. Since it doesn't come with an Apple logo it can't be easy or even good for that matter! WTH are you thinking? MS is getting the same treatment from people like you because they have a different approach. Stop the presses someone developed a genuine idea and it wasn't Apple....what's a consumer to do? Are you kidding me? Is everyone supposed to use Apple from here on out? I'm sorry but if that's the case wake me from this nightmare! There's a large chunk of consumers that don't use Apple and probably never will so don't ignore us! I'm glad there's competition from BB and MS so I have a choice with great technology. The notion that we should use Apple instead of learning new tech is the dumbest thing I've ever read.
    • Ummm

      "I'm glad there's competition from BB and MS so I have a choice with great technology."

      RIM has not been comptetion for a long time and MS is slowly coming back... I hope RIM does too because I really don't want to see a 2 horse race as far as smartphones.