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New BlackBerry smartphones could mean complex enterprise server installs

John Cox | March 22, 2013
The new BlackBerry 10 smartphone, the Z10, finally goes on sale this week. Yet enterprise IT groups, who've been waiting for BlackBerry to get its act together, face a bigger challenge than learning the distinctive gestures of the phone's new touch interface.

But for BlackBerry, and other mobile phone vendors such as Nokia, within a few years sales began falling fast as Apple's iOS devices, first iPhones then iPads, began an unprecedented growth in the enterprise. The advent of Android devices accelerated this shift. Vox followed the market and now offers services to support enterprise deployments for these rival mobile platforms.

"Eighteen months ago, BlackBerry didn't offer a platform for [modern] mobile application development," says Haviland. "And that was next wave of productivity: apps for accessing information, and for collecting it and sharing it, often automatically."

Companies that saw this link -- between apps and new productivity opportunities -- then made tactical decisions, looking at 12- or 18-month horizons, to embrace iOS and Android as the basis for creating new mobile apps to transform the way employees worked, according to Haviland. With BlackBerry 10, the new handsets, a panoply of development tools and aggressive outreach to developers, and a revamped server infrastructure, BlackBerry can now finally offer a competitive mobile platform, according to Vox's Haviland and Wilson.

BES 5 is the first step to BES 10

For the many enterprises that currently run the older BES 4 release, the first step will be upgrading to BES 5, which is "much more robust, and introduces high availability, and features like BlackBerry Balance," says Vox's Wilson. Balance is software that lets a BlackBerry user separate and secure business apps and data and personal apps and data. With BB10, its now "baked into" the new line of BlackBerry devices.

That upgrade, Haviland says, is straightforward. "It's not a major break or shift: They're just updating their existing BES as they have in the past," he says.

"For a lot of companies, the [existing] BlackBerry 6 and 7 devices and their services are still the corporate standard," Haviland says. "They're reliable, secure, rock solid, they work great and they're nearly free."

The BlackBerry 10 devices, co-existing with iOS and Android, need more, which is where BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 comes in. Adding BES 10 means installing two new BlackBerry server programs (in May, BlackBerry will release a single integrated product), and accepting a new level of complexity, according to Wilson.

BES 10 -- welcome to complexity

"There are more things to 'worry' about," Wilson says. The changes include opening new firewall ports, setting up and managing new certificates, creating and maintaining databases for device configuration. Some of these changes are simple checklists. But how easy it ultimately is may hinge on the level of "IT maturity" with regard to mobility, according to Haviland. So some companies may need to create a mobility strategy first, to guide mobile decision-making. Others may need to create unified deployment teams that bring together IT managers and line-of-business manager to relate mobile technology to business goals.


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