Mobile // Mobile Devices
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3/4/2013
06:46 PM
Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
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BlackBerry Can Set EMM Standard With BES 10

The need for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that's still in almost all large organizations has been declining, but BES 10 changes everything. Instead of being a legacy server to manage legacy phones, BES 10 can be the cental console for managing all mobile devices.

In all fairness, it BES 10's management capabilities for iOS and especially Android, are weak compared to what it can do with BlackBerry 10 devices. It's tempting to think that this is part of the plan to sell BlackBerry devices (and perhaps it could work), but I don't think this is the case. For now, BES 10 provides for iOS and Android what management capabilities the devices have by default. With BES 10 and BlackBerry 10 you get a device on which work data and applications are managed tightly, but personal data and applications are not even accessible to IT. Users can be blocked from copying data from the personal space to the work space. These capabilities, which the company calls BlackBerry Balance, are the dream scenario for BYOD.

But BES 10 will provide MAM to iOS and Android apps — once again, this is not delivered yet and BlackBerry is not providing a date, but is promising this support. It involves wrapping apps that BES deploys to the device in a management layer that controls data going into or coming out of them. I'm not sure exactly what capabilities BlackBerry enables, but other MAM providers allow for custom authentication, app-specific VPN, logging and other tracking. It's hard to see how it could provide the full Balance experience to Android and, especially, to iOS users. But BES programming interfaces are also open so third parties can create new management systems to allow BES 10 to manage other types of devices. For instance -- not that this is happening -- but Microsoft could create a program to plug into BES 10 so that it could be used to manage Windows Phones.

Clearly BlackBerry wants to sell BES 10 hard, especially into all those organizations that already have an older BES. BES 10 itself costs nothing, either for a hosted service or the server software that you install on your own premise hardware. The cost is in the CALs per mobile device, which cost north of $90 per for BlackBerry, iOS or Android, and the old CALs from older BES versions don't transfer to BES 10. But for this year, as part of the BlackBerry 10 Ready Program, the company is offering a free swap of old BlackBerry device CALs for BlackBerry 10 CALs on BES 10.

There is one other serious attempt to standardize mobile management: SAFE (Samsung Approved For Enterprise). The idea of SAFE is to create standardized management interfaces in the device for management systems, and several companies, including AirWatch and SOTI, have announced such support. The interfaces supported in SAFE (http://www.samsung.com/us/business/samsung-for-enterprise/downloads/SAFE_Brochure_Updated_1012.pdf) are a lot more than simple MDM, but not a whole lot more and certainly far short of EMM.

Pete Devenyi, senior vice president, Enterprise Software at BlackBerry, told me that they don't have a "BlackBerry first and then all the others" strategy; their goal is for BES to take full advantage of the management interfaces that they can. On iOS the capabilities are limited by Apple, but for Android — if BlackBerry is serious about making BES 10 the leading EMM management system — they'll commit to support SAFE and to be competitive with the MobileIrons and AirWatches of the world.

Here's my prediction: BlackBerry has been on tour showing the new phones and BES 10 to IT people around the world. A lot of those IT people have older BlackBerries. Expect them to set up BES 10, trade up their phones and CALs to version 10 and then become the evangelists for BlackBerry 10 in the rest of the company. It might work, it might not, but it's a reasonable strategy.

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