BlackBerry Enterprise Server Updated for Individual-Liable Devices

The BlackBerry Enterprise Server software has just been updated to version 5.0.2, now allowing end-users to buy their own BlackBerry and use them for work without setting off alarms. Inside BlackBerry hinted at this feature not too long ago, and focused on the security implications of allowing outside users to bring in their own devices. Being able to install applications with access to information on the device could have higher-ups immediately axe the idea, but RIM has put in place controls that allow stuff like social networking apps to get installed without dipping its toes into the corporate side. Companies save money by allowing individual-liable BlackBerrys since they’re spared from both buying the devices, as well as recurring costs for voice and data service.

A related feature is the ability to wipe the corporate data from a user-owned BlackBerry without nuking everything altogether. Though some of these features are contingent on device software, presumably OS 6, RIM promises that “additional features for keeping corporate content separate from personal content on employee-owned devices are expected later this year.”

There are a few other things that the update includes, like enterprise support for third-party browsers, self-service device wiping and locking, and single sign-on for easier mobile access to data behind the firewall, but here’s a fuller list of BES 5.0.2’s highlights. Head over to RIM’s site for a closer look at BES.

Single sign-on allows end users and administrators to directly and securely access BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager and BlackBerry Administration Service once they’ve signed in to the network without the need to re-enter their user ID and password. Smartphone users can be allowed access to the intranet, files and business systems “behind the firewall” directly from their BlackBerry smartphone without the need to enter their network password with the device already authenticated via Active Directory and BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Remote removal of corporate data from employee-owned devices is a new function built into BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.2 that is expected to be supported with an upcoming versions of the BlackBerry OS, allowing IT administrators to remove only corporate data from an employee-owned BlackBerry smartphone without affecting the employee’s personal information and applications. Additional features for keeping corporate content separate from personal content on employee-owned devices are expected later this year.

A new Individual-Liable Devices Policy permits employees who have purchased their own BlackBerry smartphones and have been connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server to access their personal email and calendar and make calls on their personal voice plan when the device is locked. It also prevents users from accessing organizer data from within social networking applications on their BlackBerry smartphones.

New security self-service options for end users – End users with BlackBerry smartphones connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server now have access to new self-service features in BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager, including the ability to reset their device password and lock the device, or remotely delete all device data and disable it in the event that it is lost or stolen. Previously, these functions could only be performed by contacting their IT administrator. (IT administrators can allow or disallow these self-service features.)

Flexible URL-based smartphone authentication – IT administrators can now assign different authentication requirements for specific URLs.  For example, 2-factor authentication can be enabled for specific internal business systems containing customer information while no authentication may be required to access the Web.

Support for additional web browsers has been added to enable access to the BlackBerry Administration Service for IT Staff and BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager for employees via the latest versions of popular web browsers, including Google Chrome 4.0, Internet Explorer 8, Mozilla Firefox 3.6 and Safari 4.

Standardized BlackBerry Administration Groups for IT staff – BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.2 ships with a set of predefined administration groups for IT administrators to quickly assign permissions and access to BlackBerry Administration Service for different IT staff responsibilities, including junior IT staff, help desk and senior administrators. These predefined administration groups reflect best practices and can help IT departments standardize permissions across their staff.

IT policy reconciliation – This new feature gives administrators the flexibility to leverage group administration to deliver IT policies to end users.  IT policies can be assigned to groups and a blended IT policy can be delivered to the end users device based on the groups they belong to.

Support for Windows Server 2008 R2, upcoming support for SQL Server 2008 R2 and all new support for MS Hyper-V 2008 have been added to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform certification list.  These continue to keep BlackBerry Enterprise Server compatible with leading business, network and communications systems in the market today. SQL Server 2008 R2 is expected to be supported within 30 days of release.

Brazilian Portuguese has been added to the languages supported, making BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5 now available in 7 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese.

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