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Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
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BlackBerry Balance - The Real Reason To Buy It

The BlackBerry Z10 is a good phone, but it doesn't get really cool until you use it as both your work and personal phone. BlackBerry 10 has a series of features the company calls "BlackBerry Balance," to make both roles work well and to protect each from the other.

My recent first impressions story on the BlackBerry Z10 was typical of BlackBerry 10 reviews you'll see: I used the phone as a consumer user would — not as BlackBerry has designed it to be used by a business user.

Many non-business users have BlackBerry phones, especially abroad, but in the U.S. what's left of it is basically a business phenomenon. Sure, there's music and a great camera and all that in the new BlackBerry 10 devices, but the point is to make it attractive to business users. BlackBerry doesn't stop there.

InformationWeek's Fritz Nelson spent a week with a BlackBerry Z10. Click here to find out if he's tossing his Galaxy S III for it.

BlackBerry devices under management by a BES 10 get BlackBerry Balance, a separation of work and personal use of the phone. In the image on this page you can see the buttons with which to choose the Work or Personal "perimeters," as BlackBerry calls them. Somewhat faded below, you can see the apps from the Work perimeter. You are required to set a password for access to the Work perimeter and this may be different from the device password, allowing you to let someone use the Personal perimeter but not the Work one.

Data in the Work perimeter is secured with 256-bit AES encryption. IT can set policies in the BES to prevent users from copying data between perimeters.

I asked BlackBerry for access to an account managed by a BES 10 so that I could test Balance. A company official gave me access to an eval account that included email, calendar and other server facilities.

One of the apps in the image is "BlackBerry World - Work." This is a company app store that IT can set up on the BES. Apps in that store can be secured using BlackBerry's Mobile Application Management facilities. The apps listed here are not available to users in the Personal perimeter and vice versa.

BlackBerry has announced that iOS and Android devices managed by a BES will get Balance and communications through their NOC, but it has not announced a date for this yet.

This image shows the app listing for the Personal perimeter. These apps cannot see the files or email or any other sensitive data from the work perimeter so malicious apps and Web sites should not be able to affect them.

The BlackBerry hub integrates both Work and Personal communications, but of course users need the Work password to gain access to the Work communications. Notice that both my personal and work email accounts are listed, as are BBM (BlackBerry Messenger Service), text messages and Facebook. Scrolled below your view are Twitter, LinkedIn, Visual Voice Mail and, of course, phone calls. (That's right, the BlackBerry Z10 is also a phone!)

BlackBerry 10 also combines Personal and Work calendar events on the same calendar view.

Users in the Work perimeter also have access inside the company firewall, so IT can also grant access to network file shares. Pictured is a file share maintained by BlackBerry on one of its servers. The files can be access by apps in the Work perimeter, including the Connect to Dropbox and Box apps BlackBerry included with the Work perimeter setup. Your IT staff can, of course, pick which apps are and are not included in the Work perimeter.

By the same token, users may access Web sites inside the firewall when in the Work perimeter.

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