BlackBerry's new enterprise system supports iPhones, Androids

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is rolling out a new enterprise mobility system that will allow organizations to manage multiple platforms, including Android and Apple smart phones and tablets.

As an enterprise mobility tool, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion combines the company’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.3 for BlackBerry smart phones with new management capabilities for the company's PlayBook tablets using BlackBerry Enterprise Server technology.

A key part of the new service will also allow organizations to manage smart phones and tablets running on the Android and Apple operating systems with full functionality, said Alan Panezic, RIM’s vice president for enterprise product management and marketing, at a media briefing.

Features for the new system include: asset management, configuration management, security and policy definition and management, the ability to remotely lock and wipe lost or stole devices, user- and group-based administration, the ability to support multiple devices per user, application and software management, connectivity management, a centralized administrative console, and high scalability. Regarding scalability, Panezic said that he expects organizations to be able to support 10,000 or more devices through BlackBerry Mobile Fusion.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows users to use the same device for both personal and business functions. Panezic said the system offers a seamless user experience but maintains security by keeping business data and applications resident on servers and protected by a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard encryption box.

Instead of logging in to use every application on a device, the user only has to log in to directly access a business application or service. “We’ve changed where the fence is for the user,” he said.

The new product rollout is a defensive move to shore up RIM’s market, said Gartner Group analyst Ken Dulaney. He said RIM has been under a lot of pressure, as Android and Apple iOS platforms erode its government-sector market dominance because the bulk of government wireless use does not require RIM’s high security.

“This is most certainly an approach to keep the [BlackBerry Enterprise Server] intact and to fend off pressure to bring in other management tools, which would mean less loyalty to RIM,” he said.

Although the ability to manage Android and Apple platforms doesn’t give RIM more flexibility in the marketplace, Dulaney said it will allow customers more choices in how they want to manage their mobile systems. BlackBerry Mobile Fusion will undergo a closed beta test in January 2012 and become generally available in March 2012.


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