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RIM Customers to Face BES Fragmentation

The clouds have parted and the confusion is gone. RIM has clarified how current BlackBerry devices, BB10 and BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) will -- and won't -- work together. The plan is not for a unified MDM (Mobile Device Management) console, but a kludge.

A short while ago, I wrote an article on how BES and BB10 were currently speculated to work together. As often happens, additional details came to light after the story was published. Last week even more information has come to light, and the confusion should now be gone.

In short, here are the facts:

  • Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) is at end of life.
  • Blackberry 10 devices won’t work with BES
  • BES 5.03 will continue to be the MDM console for current Playbook and BB7 and earlier devices.
  • RIM will be shipping Blackberry Device Service to manage BB10 and later devices, and future Playbooks.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 will also act as a front end to a third RIM management server: Universal Device Service, currently on the market under the name Mobile Fusion. It gives you a console to manage the standard Exchange ActiveSync settings on iOS and Android devices — the same EAS settings you can now manage for free via Microsoft Exchange or in System Center 2012. UDS also supports the delivery of iOS’ native management certificates, comparable to what OS X Server or the Apple Configuration Utility do, but using the RIM console instead for simpler integration with other device management capabilities. A client app for iOS and Android also allows device auditing and controls over business-delivered apps. Essentially, it offers the basic capabilities of most MDM tools.

Many organizations, like the major health care company that I currently contract at, are heavily invested in BB7 and earlier infrastructure. It’s highly unlikely that they will migrate to BB10 any time soon, as it means they’ll have to incur additional costs for the servers and services required to manage both RIM device types.

Likewise, I don’t see other organizations making the switch for much the same reasons. The new infrastructure won’t integrate with the old, and will require additional hardware and FTE’s to configure and manage. In order to gain the level of adoption that RIM is hoping for, the handsets and services are going to have to be stellar.

I have my doubts on how everything will come out. RIM has been appearing to give more ground than it gains with BB10 and QNX, thanks in no small part to the press it’s been getting related to the issues and challenges its faced with both BB10 devices and software development. The fact that they were unable to get everything to work together doesn’t bode well.

RIM is also asking a great deal from existing customers wishing to move to RIM’s next generation devices. The costs associated with migrating from one infrastructure to another may be viewed as too high, despite the advantages they may provide. The proposed architecture of a new service managed through a portal that also front ends the old BES plus snaps in a paid method to manage something I can already manage from my Exchange Server console seems a bit kludgy to me.

I’d love to hear your opinion on this, however. Why not join us in the comments, below and tell us what you think?

Hat tip to Galen Gruman on Infoworld.

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