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Can BES 10 save BlackBerry?

Powerful new MDM tool for BlackBerry, Apple and Android devices could give enterprises a reason not to jump ship

By Mike Heck, Network World
March 04, 2013 06:02 AM ET

Network World - Research in Motion (RIM) is now BlackBerry, and the renamed company recently launched the BlackBerry 10 OS. While much attention was focused on phones running the new OS, we decided to take a closer look at the company's new management platform called BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10), which unites mobile device management (MDM), security, unified communications, and application management.

BES 10 is required for managing BlackBerry 10 devices. BES 10, BlackBerry Device Service (for managing PlayBooks and BlackBerry 10 smartphones) and the Universal Device Service (to handle iOS and Android devices) can all run on the same server, whether it's physical or virtual.

For now, enterprises will need to maintain separate physical servers running BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.x to manage BlackBerry OS 7 and earlier devices. But a May service pack will permit BES 5.03 and above to run on the same physical or virtual server as BES 10 - which should provide IT managers with important opportunities for server consolidation.

[ALSO: The best BlackBerry 10 apps

FIRST LOOK: BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10]

We installed BES 10 on a Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 running SQL Server 2008. The step-by-step setup application should be familiar to BlackBerry administrators; it required about three hours to load and configure all modules. Once finished, I had the BlackBerry Device Service, Universal Device Service, and BlackBerry Management Studio ready for adding users and devices.

The BlackBerry Device Service admin console, which includes a left navigations section and quick access menu, mirrors the layout of past BlackBerry Enterprise Server software, so only brief refresher training should be needed. IT staff have a full range of options to create and manage users, groups and security policies.

Work/life balance

My testing included a new capability to establish application spaces on devices as part of the provisioning process. This works using BlackBerry Balance technology, one of the most significant additions to BlackBerry 10 OS.

-The Administration Service helped me create a work space (domain) and personal space on BlackBerry 10 devices - which separate a user's business and private information and apps. For example, I specified that the work space contain mandatory internal apps and certain public apps from BlackBerry World. I also pushed a list of recommended apps to users that were included in my corporate app storefront (BlackBerry World for Work).

In addition, I also made some public apps available in the personal space, yet allowed them to be configured separately.

Here's a real-world example. Say an employee is your official social media representative. That person could have Twitter configured in their workspace with the company Twitter account. Their personal space would access their own Twitter account - so there's little chance of posting personal tweets on behalf of the company.

To streamline workflow, BlackBerry Device Service now allows users self-service activation of multiple devices - and they can select whether it replaces an existing BlackBerry device or is an additional device. Moreover, device activation is simplified - users no longer have to enter an ID code or server address. For flexibility, activation is done over a wireless network or using the Web Desktop Manager with the device connected to a computer.

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