RIM is apparently considering extending their BlackBerry Enterprise Server to be able to manage corporate devices aside from BlackBerry, according to Communications Platform VP Pete Devenyi in an interview. Although they aren’t announcing any new products, it’s a direction RIM is willing to move in if there is enough demand from their customers.
“BlackBerry is and will continue to be dominant in most corporations. It’s not going to be the only device, given the fact that consumers have the choice to bring in their own devices, and IT departments are often letting them in. So there’s a question there. Do those corporations have to manage those devices differently or is there the possibility that RIM might extend capabilities to make it easier for those corporations to manage those devices as well.”
That being said, it’s unclear if the management of, say, Android or iPhone devices would fall under the BlackBerry Enterprise Server itself, or if it would be spun off as a separate product altogether.
One thing Devenyi was more sure about in the interview was a cloud solution RIM would be launching for BES management. Either they or dedicated partners would host servers, presumably with some kind of browser-based connectivity to change settings as needed. RIM has already launched a web management console for their existing BES products, so it’s not a huge leap to organize and set up RIM-approved hosted servers. Their own cloud service would be pretty basic, but there would be an opportunity for partners to step in and cover the more esoteric types of e-mail servers.
RIM has tried to play nice with other enterprise devices in the past. BlackBerry Connect (eventually renamed the BlackBerry Application Suite) enabled Windows Mobile handsets to be managed and used just like any other RIM smartphone, complete with PIN number. If something similar was applied to Android or iPhone, RIM may find themselves in an interesting spot by both supporting and competing with the other manufacturers in its market – sounds a bit like Google, doesn’t it? Although deploying anything other than a BlackBerry in enterprise is possible, and there’s definitely a lot of user interest in using a fun phone for work, anything other than a RIM smartphone is still a pretty small subset in the grand scheme of things.
It would take a far bit of interest from IT admins to get RIM to make something to manage Android and iPhone, so let’s hear it: any techies out there that would be excited to deploy something like this? Drop a comment.