Just yesterday Research In Motion announced the release of Service Pack 4 for BlackBerry Enterprise Server Version 5 as well as Service pack 1 for Mobile Fusion. These two service updates are paving the way for the future of BlackBerry 10’s integration on BES 10 and additional expansion of services for Mobile Device Management (MDM).
We had the opportunity to interview Research In Motion’s Senior Director for Enterprise Product Management, Jeff Holleran. We talk to Jeff about his roles in the recent product launches and how RIM is working on BES 10. Have a listen, or read the interview transcription below.
– Interview transcription –
N4BB: How were you involved in these two product launches?
Jeff: At RIM I am responsible for our product roadmap and direction on the enterprise product front. My team has been working closely with our partners over the past couple of months to understand where their needs are and what enhancements they wanted to see in the product line. We’ve made strong commitment in support of the requests of our partners. We work with them and their development team to bring out the wealth of good functionality.
It was a great day yesterday to see our products across our entire mobility management line updated, all the way from BES through the Fusion family. It was a very busy day for us.
N4BB: When is Universal Device Service going to support iOS6?
Jeff: That’s a very timely question with the launch of iOS 6 this week. With the update that we made available yesterday, we are supporting iOS 6 devices so our customers can activate an iOS 6 device against the Universal Device Service today.
N4BB: Is there going to be a ‘Enterprise activation’-like process on Android and iOS clients too?
Jeff: It is very similar to enterperise activation and if you have an Android or iOS client that you’re connecting up to Mobile Fusion today, you’d go out and download the Mobile Fusion client from the appropriate app store of the mobile device you have. Through that client you’d be able to go through an enterprise activation process that configures the device. It will go ahead and send out all of the settings that the administrator has configured, the email controls necessary to configure the email accounts, so the end-user doesn’t have to go through all of the steps of the server and port configuration, it is very similar to a BlackBerry with respect to connecting it up.
N4BB: Can you please further describe how the TouchDown feature will work for Android and iOS?
Jeff: TouchDown is an email client that comes from a company called NitroDesk and it is very popular in the Android community as a messaging client in place of the native messaging client that’s on the Android devices. Our support of that is to configure that client with all of those email settings so that if you have TouchDown installed on your Android device and you register against the Mobile Fusion server, when you activate the device through the activation process, we send out all of the server configuration for the actives and connections into the TouchDown client itself. It makes a very seamless experience for those users who have TouchDown installed on their devices.
N4BB: Can you please describe RIM’s future plans with MDS?
Jeff: MDS is our Mobile Data Service it is a component of the BES solution that helps extend the perimeter of the corporate network to encompass the BlackBerry devices. When you’re on your BlackBerry it is very similar to being on the network you’ve got the ability to do a lot of the same things as being on your desktop. For instance, you can browser the intranet when connected up to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It gives you the ability to access the file application of the device and browser file shares that sit behind the firewall. If you’ve got a Map Network Drive, most folks in a company do that they back their files up to, you’ve got the ability to access those files on the device through MDS.
If a company writes applications, those applications can transit the network through MDS to provide connectivity with no need for VPN or other connectivity. MDS is very important to us. I put up a blog post about ActiveSync and our use of it. With the PlayBook, if you look how we’ve leverage ActiveSync, we’ve been able to use it as a messaging protocol, but wrap it inside of our MDS transport so that a customer does not need to expose ActiveSync out to the internet. Or expose those interfaces directly to the internet. Using the PlayBook, and BlackBerry 10 will work the same way, you can simply configure the account on the device or connect to the server to configure the device, it will utilize MDS to get back behind the firewall and act as the mail server just the same as BlackBerry OS 7 connects to email today.
The move to ActiveSync was just a change in the synchronization engine that we use for email and PIM information. So we go over from the messaging server down to the device.
N4BB: How many servers will be needed to deploy BlackBerry 10 devices into an Enterprise that is already using legacy BlackBerrys?
Jeff: Yes, at launch today we will be providing the BES 10 upgrade to Mobile Fusion and kind of switching the branding from Mobile Fusion to a BES 10 branded product. That’s going to go on a server in parallel to the BES 5 environment when we launch in first quarter along with the BlackBerry 10 devices. When we move forward, as I’ve already announced a service pack to come out aligned with BlackBerry World event next May, it will allow everyone to run BES 10 as an upgrade on top of their BES 5 server, right on that server.
What we did there was we understood there is a lot of early adopters that wanted to run parallel environments for a little while as they got up and running. So, we focused on that, ensuring we had flexible components. And we heard the feedback that people wanted to run it on the same server so we wanted to make sure that was possible.
From the update we have scheduled for aligning it with BlackBerry World in May it is a single server solution to provide full management across all of your mobile devices that exist inside the enterprise.
N4BB: Can you explain the difference between “sandboxing” and how BES with BlackBerry Balance is different?
Jeff: It is a very interesting area to dive into. When we started looking at our strategy for ensuring a very robust user experience, one of the top things that surfaced from our customers was to ensure that they didn’t have to make a switch between applications to view their personal emails or corporate work-based data. At RIM we are very security focused so we built BlackBerry 10 right from the ground up with the intention of separating the personal experience and personal data from the work data while not impacting the experience.
If we look at the implementation of BlackBerry Balance on PlayBook today, you’ve got a single mailbox on the device. It includes all of the data from both my personal accounts that have been linked in as well as my enterprise accounts that have been connected up to the device. We want to make sure that when you go into an application it makes sense (i.e. mailbox, calendar). You can view your entire life in there, all aspects of what you do, but we provide the security controls so we can protect that data and ensure the data cannot cross between the those two spaces on the device and cross between your work and personal personas of how you interact and live your daily life.
N4BB: How will BES 10 differ from GoodTechnologies and other 3rd party MDM services?
Jeff: BES 10 is designed to provide all of the needs of the enterprise when it comes to managing their mobile deployments. We’ve spent a lot of time working with customers. This wasn’t something that RIM entered into as a business opportunity that we were forward looking on, so much as it was our customers reaching out to us saying, “Guys at RIM, we understand you guys know mobility, we understand you know security, we need help.” With the trends of the industry today, with the consumerization of IT, we’ve got our users knocking on our door everyday saying, “We need you to support these other devices we’ve purchased. What we need you, RIM, to do is help us out with managing these devices. We need a trusted enterprise software partner. We’ve worked with you guys for 10+ years now on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, can you extend that out and help us with managing these other devices?”
So we’ve worked off of that feedback to ensure that we’re incorporating the basic tenets of BlackBerry and our security story as we manage these other devices. At BlackBerry World last year we announced that we would be bringing some of the capabilities of BlackBerry with respect to security of both data at rest and data in transit over to the third party devices. We’re working diligently on that and expect we’ll meet our commitments on that.
N4BB: Is there any plan for Mobile Fusion and BES 10 support for syncing of to-do and notes?
Jeff: That’s a question that came up a lot on my blog post about ActiveSync. The answer I gave them was to stay tuned. We haven’t announced anything on that front yet, but we’re really excited about our overall roadmap with respect to BlackBerry 10 and BES 10.
N4BB: Are there any plans for future support of Windows Phone?
Jeff: We’re very driven to support the devices our enterprise customers are asking about. As enterprises bring topics up and we take a look at trends in the industry we’ll continue to be very proactive at responding to customer request for support of new features, functionality, and devices if that’s the case.
N4BB: How can IT admins give feedback to you?
Jeff: We love getting feedback from customers. We’ll be at a ton of major events over the next little while were we expect to run into customers. Personally, I’ll be out at BlackBerry Jam next week, I’ll be at MobileCon in a couple weeks, after that I’m at Gartner IT Expo and am very happy to meet with customers at those events.
As well, feel free to let us know through the many social media channels that are out there. My blog posts that are up, I am very active at reading those comments and responding. Those are some of the best ways to interact directly and working with the contacts of folks have at RIM with the support channels. We’ve got an incredible support organization that’s staffed globally to support our customers and is 24/7 operation with folks all over the world supporting our customers. We have a great sales team that is very close to the love of customers as well. I love getting feedback and am very active in responding to feedback I get across the blog.