BES to get iOS, Android management features

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has extended its reach in the mobile-device-management (MDM) space with the acquisition of a German software company ubitexx, maker of the ubi-Suite device management software.

RIM and ubitexx logos

The ubitexx deal is expected to yield a new "BlackBerry Enterprise Solution" that will offer BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)-like device management and control features for iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones and tablets, via one Web-based interface. No financial details on the transaction are currently available, and the deal is still pending.

The BlackBerry is largely considered the de facto enterprise mobile device, mostly due to RIM's BES, which offers IT administrators a wide variety of controls and options to manage BlackBerry devices. With the recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the enterprise, such as iOS and Android devices, RIM is attempting to maintain its status as Enterprise King of the Hill by offering mobile device management features for these rival platforms.

The move could prove to be the shot in the arm RIM needs right now, amidst shrinking market share and a dwindling of hearts and minds, since many existing RIM customers interested in non-RIM devices could opt for software from RIM to manage their iPads, iPhones and Androids instead of device management options from additional software companies. In other words, RIM is bringing what it does best to mobile platforms other than BlackBerry.

"The multi-platform BlackBerry Enterprise Solution is designed to address a growing market and respond to requests from enterprise customers who want a secure multi-platform device management solution from a company that already delivers the gold standard for enterprise mobility," said, Peter Devenyi, RIM's VP, Communications Platform, in a press release.

RIM's full BES will still offer a variety of BlackBerry-management features that will be unavailable for iOS and Android management, due to OS constraints, according to the company.

"[O]rganizations can expect a range of security, manageability and controls depending on different device platform capabilities, with some devices further limited by the design of their operating systems," read a press release.

More specifically, RIM's "push" technology, which delivers messages to BlackBerry smartphones almost instantly after they hit a user's inbox, will be exclusively available to BlackBerry users, as will RIM's data-compression technology. Behind the firewall access to enterprise systems and applications will also be restricted to BlackBerry smartphones. And RIM says many of the 550 IT control and management policies currently available via BES will remain exclusive to BlackBerry.

RIM is not the only company to offer products with BlackBerry, Android and iOS management features. Other firms with similar products include BoxTone and Zenprise. But RIM is well positioning to take a high percentage of the MDM market because it is already trusted by a wide range of organization, including security-conscious groups and governments.

RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Solution for iOS and Android is expected to become available later this year. And you should soon be able to sign up for a product preview at ubitexx.com/preview.

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