10 key practices for moving beyond RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server
Earlier this week, RIM announced that it will launch BlackBerry 10, the company's next generation mobile OS, on January 30. It will also unveil new smartphones built around the new OS. RIM stopped short of giving any details about when the new phones will hit stores, what hardware features they will offer, how much they will cost, or which carriers will offer them. The company has previously said that it is working with 50 carriers to test BlackBerry 10 devices on their networks, but it declined to give any specifics like the countries or regions that those carriers cover or the types of networks that they use.
The BlackBerry 10 launch is widely regarded as the company's last chance to reinvent itself and remain relevant to the consumer and business facets of the mobile industry. Despite once being the top smartphone for business and professional use, RIM failed to see the sea change that the iPhone represented and the BlackBerry has since been out--innovated by virtually every other mobile platform including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and even the now--defunct webOS.
The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) programs and demand from workers and executives for options like the iPhone and Android device helped create a steady movement away from the BlackBerry in corporate and government circles ---- both key customer bases for RIM. That movement also coincided with increased enterprise management and security capabilities in both iOS and Android, making the decision to abandon the BlackBerry easier for many organizations. The end result is that RIM has gone from dominating the global smartphone market a few years ago to accounting for only 9.5% of the market this time last year and now just makes up 4.3% of the market according to IDC.
RIM has pinned its future on the BlackBerry 10 platform. If it fails, RIM as we know it probably won't exist for much longer. The concern that RIM might go under, along with the high--profile outages that plagued the company over the past year and a half, have led many IT leaders to reconsider any remaining investment in BlackBerry--related infrastructure. RIM's own admission that BlackBerry 10 will, at least initially, require different enterprise tools for security and management than the current and long--standing BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has only fueled those concerns.
A survey conducted this summer by research firm ThinkEquity found that 70% of IT managers were planning to abandon their BES infrastructure within two years. Half said that they were planning to switch to alternative solutions within one year.
For organizations that have been die--hard BlackBerry shops, the challenges of supporting multiple platforms, ensuring security, and making the actual transition away from the BlackBerry and BES can seem daunting. There are, however, some key practices that can make the process go smoothly.
Here are ten of those key practices.
1. Determine bottom--line security needs. Extremely high levels of security helped establish the BlackBerry as the top choice for many organizations and policies that lock down handsets, apps, and specific capabilities are among the most commonly used of the 500+ management options enabled by BES. A chief concern in many fields is the ability to secure devices and data, particularly in highly regulated fields like finance, healthcare, government, and defense. While other platforms may not match the extreme security and management options available to BlackBerries paired with BES, they often can meet core requirements.
In determining your baseline security needs, you'll likely discover that some BES policies are overkill for your organization. That was one of the realizations that the IT team at Nemours healthcare discovered as they migrated hundreds of users from BlackBerries to iOS devices. You may also find that effectively securing data on BlackBerry and non--BlackBerry devices through processes like containerization reduce the need to lock down the device itself.
That said, some organizations will still have extraordinary security needs. Defense contractors and government agencies require mobile devices (as well as desktop and notebook computers) to demonstrate compliance with specific standards like the FIPS 140--2 cryptographic certification.
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