Despite lawsuit, RIM continues to innovate

RIM also makes a portable smart-card reader that works with Defense Common Access Cards.

Research in Motion Ltd. continues to develop new products and services despite its ongoing litigation with patent holder NTP Inc. of Arlington, Va.

The company recently introduced its new BlackBerry 8700c wireless handheld device [read the GCN Lab's review at www.GCN.com/520] and is set to launch a new version of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server software next month. In addition, the company is pushing a new portable smart-card reader for authenticating BlackBerry users through the Defense Department's Common Access Card and similar programs.

RIM senior product manager David Height told GCN the new Enterprise Server version 4.1 would incorporate several features, some of them recently made available on the 4.0 platform, for deploying portable applications, enhancing BlackBerry-based instant messaging and other enterprise functions.

Perhaps most important, Enterprise Server 4.1 will fully integrate RIM's Mobile Data System technology, which the company introduced last month as a Web services-based development framework. Height showed editors how agencies could use MDS Studio, based on the open-source Eclipse application platform, to quickly turn Web services-compliant software into BlackBerry accessible programs. MDS Studio scrapes away the Web Services Description Language coding and turns it into a mobile application that can be pushed down to BlackBerry users.

The new version of Enterprise Server also will include support for several enterprise instant-messaging platforms, including Microsoft Live Communications Server, IBM Sametime and Novell GroupWise Messenger. In addition, Height said RIM was working to extend its BlackBerry Connect feature to the popular (and competing) Palm Treo 650 device. BlackBerry Connect support would allow enterprises to support a mixed population of Treo 650 and BlackBerry users from a single messaging server platform.

Separately, RIM officials said the company was continuing to enhance a portable smart-card reader that the company rolled out last summer. Currently, the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader uses Bluetooth communications to authenticate users. Scott Totzke, director of RIM's global security group, said the company is now working to upgrade the reader so it can work with notebook and desktop systems, effectively replacing USB-attached or other smart-card readers.

With a Common Access Card card in the reader, a Defense user establishes a Bluetooth connection with the BlackBerry through a series of random identification numbers. 'We're going to treat Bluetooth as an untrusted medium,' Totzke said, so all communications will use the Advanced Encryption Standard. The reader uses the BlackBerry Java Virtual Machine and existing FIPS-140-2-validated cryptographic technology. It also supports S/MIME (Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) for encrypting messages.

RIM is working with systems integrator SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., to deploy its reader in government agencies. Totzke estimated notebook/desktop support would be available mid-2006.

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