In January, BlackBerry released a long-awaited update to its mobile platform. But for some, it was the new version of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) that stole the show. BES is a solution for managing mobile devices and apps – like SAP Afaria. Already, some are saying that the new release, BES 10, can “save BlackBerry” and are calling its capabilities the “dream scenario for BYOD.” On the flipside, Gartner research vice president Van Baker suggests IT administrators shouldn’t get too excited about BES 10 just yet.
To help you make sense of these very different perspectives, SAP.info offers an in-depth look at BES 10, specifically:
Enterprise mobility management is crucial for security
Thanks to its focus on security, BlackBerry long enjoyed special status as the mobile device and OS of choice in the enterprise. There was a time when the Blackberry was, for the most part, the only smartphone businesses deployed. But times have changed. With more options on the market, improved user experience and functionality, and the growth of “bring your own device” (BYOD) in the enterprise, you’re just as likely to see a colleague working on an iPad or Samsung Galaxy SIII.
Now that employees access corporate data from many different mobile platforms and devices, the issue of security has become infinitely more complex. IT departments must ensure that:
- Only approved mobile devices can connect to the corporate network
- Only secure, approved apps are downloaded onto employee devices
- Upgrades for different platforms are actually installed by employees
Keeping corporate data safe with MDM
This is the task of enterprise mobility management software: MDM (mobile device management) and MAM (mobile application management). With solutions such as SAP Afaria, AirWatch, or BlackBerry Enterprise Service, companies can:
- Configure employee devices to meet enterprise security requirements
- Send software and OS updates to smartphones and tablets
- Remotely wipe a lost or stolen device
- Otherwise ensure that the use of mobile devices and apps doesn’t undermine corporate security
What important new functions are included in BES 10
One significant new feature in BES 10 is the ability to manage BlackBerry, Android, and iOS devices in one application. Since most enterprises today support multiple mobile platforms, this capability is critical for any modern MDM solution. BES 10 comprises three services: BlackBerry Device Service (for managing BlackBerry smartphones and tablets), Universal Device Service (for handling iOS and Android devices), and BlackBerry Management Studio (for day-to-day administrative tasks).
Another key requirement for mobile enterprises, many of which support BYOD policies, is the ability to separate “work life” from “private life” on employee-owned devices. BlackBerry Balance, a new feature available in BlackBerry 10, does just that. Users have a work space, which contains approved corporate apps, business contacts, and other work-related information, and a personal space, which contains personal data like pictures and apps. At any time, employees can switch between the two.
The “dream scenario for BYOD”
BlackBerry Balance keeps corporate data secure: Users aren’t able to copy information from their work space into their personal space. And it makes sure that personal data doesn’t end up in use at work, even by mistake: With e-mail accounts kept separate, it’s impossible to accidentally send a private message meant for a friend to a co-worker’s inbox simply because they have the same last name.
BES 10 also gives companies support for mobile application management. For example, IT administrators can push out certain mandatory internal apps and public apps to the work spaces on employee devices. And it can set up the corporate app store, BlackBerry World for Work, so that employees only see those apps that have been approved for download by IT. When it comes to their personal space, however, employees still have access to any app in the BlackBerry World app store for consumers.
Not all features currently available for iOS and Android
One drawback to BES 10 is the fact that BlackBerry Balance, arguably the most exciting feature, doesn’t apply to iOS and Android devices. The company has said that it will deliver this functionality in an upcoming release. Furthermore, BlackBerry’s signature secure communications architecture, in which all traffic is sent encrypted via network operations centers (NOCs) instead of an IP connection, is also said to become available for iOS and Android devices in an upcoming release.
Gartner recommends holding off on BES 10
Mentions of BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 on the Web have largely been positive. And some people think that these improvements could mean a comeback for the Canadian telecommunication company. But Van Baker, Gartner research vice president, is recommending a more cautious approach. In his recent blog post, Baker says, “Organizations considering BES 10 for a mobile device management (MDM) solution to support multiple devices should wait six months until it is clear that BB 10 has proven successful in the consumer market.”
Despite the strong security features that make BlackBerry devices ideal for enterprise use, in today’s BYOD world, employees decide which smartphones and tablets they want to use. And they make these decisions based not on the preferences of an IT administrator, but on their own preferences as consumers. Thus, the success or failure of BlackBerry 10 in the consumer market will determine the success or failure of BES 10 in the enterprise, because it makes little sense for companies to use BES 10 as a mobile management solution unless they are also deploying BlackBerry 10 devices.
BES 10 success hinges on adoption of BlackBerry 10
And if Gartner’s predictions prove correct, companies may have to wait a little longer than six months before the success or failure of BlackBerry 10 is clear: The research company estimates that through 2016, BlackBerry will achieve less than 5 percent worldwide smartphone market share. One reason enterprises may be hesitant to adopt BlackBerry 10 devices is the fact that MDM solutions for the new line of smartphones are quite limited. At the moment, the company has not opened API support to popular MDM tools, meaning BES 10 is really the only strong MDM solution available for BlackBerry 10.
In an interesting twist: Would opening up API support for additional MDM tools increase the adoption of BlackBerry 10? Actually making enterprises more likely to upgrade to BES 10? Only time will tell.