By Mark Long / CIO Today. Updated April 03, 2012.
Research In Motion is offering enterprises a 60-day free trial of the company's next-generation mobile device management platform, which builds upon the capabilities of the company's BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, the new platform enables IT administrators to manage mobile devices running BlackBerry OS, Apple's iOS and Google's Android -- all from a single unified, Web-based console.
With BES as its foundation, Mobile Fusion provides mobile management capabilities for iOS and Android devices such as software app administration, support for multiple devices per user, wireless connectivity supervision, and security protection for lost or stolen devices via remote lock and wipe commands. Android and iOS device administration can also be set on a per-user or group basis.
For many businesses and government, managing a mix of mobile devices on any scale is already chaotic, said Research In Motion Vice President Alan Panezic. Organizations are under pressure to adopt the new bring your own device (BYOD) policies that many enterprise workers have been demanding.
"BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows organizations to manage a mixed environment of devices in the most secure, simple and cost-efficient manner possible," Panezic said. "It also means that businesses and government do not have to move to the lowest common denominator on security for all the devices they need to manage."
In Tune with the BYOD Trend
Mobile Fusion's cross-management capabilities are the first fruits from RIM's Ubitexx acquisition in May of last year. According to industry observers, the Ubitexx deal was a clear signal that RIM had already been anticipating that enterprises would eventually have to embrace the BYOD trend.
We asked Al Hilwa, director of applications software development at IDC, what RIM hopes to achieve through the release of a new offering that supplies support for rival mobile platforms as its primary aim.
"I think you are seeing RIM here beginning to do the kinds of things it needs to do to establish itself as a software player for the enterprise," Hilwa said. "Managing other OS platforms for its enterprise customers keeps it relevant in the age of BYOD and allows [RIM to] keep its presence at the back-end end while it revamps its device strategy."
Hilwa said Mobile Fusion does nothing to directly help RIM reverse its sagging BlackBerry handset sales or solve other pressing financial issues at the company.
"But it is a strategic step in the right direction -- namely, to focus more on its key assets in the enterprise," Hilwa said.
Re-energizing the Platform
According to ABI Research, Mobile Fusion allows RIM to piggyback on the success of its iOS and Android platform rivals even as it showcases BES as arguably the most secure platform on the market. That's because not every management feature in the BES will be enabled on the other platforms -- for example, accessing behind-the-firewall corporate applications, the firm's analysts said.
"Rather than de-emphasize BES, it's re-energizing the platform and intends to make it the de-facto center for mobile device management," said ABI Research Vice President Kevin Burden when the Mobile Fusion platform was announced in November.
Available for download to enterprises under a 60-day free trial offer, client access license pricing starts at $99 per user or $4 per user per month when billed on an annual basis. RIM said Tuesday that Mobile Fusion volume discounts are also readily obtainable.