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9/10/2012
02:18 PM
Chris Spera
Chris Spera
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RIM Customers To Face BES Fragmentation

RIM has clarified how current BlackBerry devices, BB10, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server will--and won't--work together, and it ain't pretty. The plan is not for a unified mobile device management console, but a two-headed solution that will require new servers and training.

Not long ago I shared a BGR report that Blackberry 10 (BB10) devices would not work with current Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) servers. As often happens, additional details came to light after the story was published. Last week even more information surfaced.

In short, here's what we now know:

  • Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) is at end of life.
  • Blackberry 10 devices won't work with current BES versions (what RIM calls "BES 5.0.3+" in its blog).
  • BES 5.03 will continue to be the MDM console for current Playbook and BB7 versions and earlier devices.
  • RIM will be shipping Blackberry Device Service (BDS) to manage BB10 and later devices, and future Playbooks.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) also will act as a front end to a third RIM management server, Universal Device Service (UDS), currently on the market under the name Mobile Fusion. It gives you a console to manage the standard Exchange ActiveSync settings on iOS and Android devices--the same EAS settings you can now manage for free via Microsoft Exchange or in System Center 2012. UDS also supports the delivery of iOS's native management certificates, comparable to what OS X Server or the Apple Configuration Utility do, but using the RIM console instead for simpler integration with other device management capabilities. A client app for iOS and Android also allows device auditing and controls over business-delivered apps. Essentially, it offers the basic capabilities of most MDM tools.

BDS and UDS might be combined on the same physical or virtual server, or run separately. BES 5.0.3+ needs to remain on its own server. An upgrade to BES 10 currently is scheduled for BlackBerry World in May 2013.

Many organizations, such as the major healthcare company I work for, are heavily invested in BB7 and earlier infrastructure. It's highly unlikely that they will migrate to BB10 any time soon, as it means they'll have to incur additional costs for the servers and services required to manage both RIM device types.

Likewise, I don't see other organizations making the switch for many of the same reasons. The new infrastructure won't integrate with the old, except through the new Web-based console, and will require additional hardware and FTEs to configure and manage. In order to gain the level of adoption that RIM is hoping for, the handsets and services are going to have to be stellar.

I have my doubts about how everything will turn out. RIM has been appearing to give more ground than it gains with BB10 and QNX, thanks in no small part to the press it's been getting related to the issues and challenges it has faced with both BB10 devices and software development. The fact that they were unable to get everything to work together doesn't bode well.

RIM also is asking a great deal from existing customers wishing to move to RIM's next-generation devices. The costs associated with migrating from one infrastructure to another might be viewed as too high, despite the advantages it might provide. The proposed architecture of a new service managed through a portal that also front ends the old BES, plus adds a paid method to manage something I can already manage from my Exchange Server console, seems a bit kludgy to me.

I'd love to hear your opinion. Why not post a comment below and tell us what you think?

Hat tip to Galen Gruman at InfoWorld.

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