BlackBerry opens management of its smartphones to rivals

BlackBerry said that its devices could now be managed using third-party mobile device management applications

BlackBerry is allowing rivals AirWatch, Citrix, SAP, and IBM to directly manage its smartphones with the Blackberry 10 operating system as part of its strategy to open up management of its devices to third parties.

The move by BlackBerry acknowledges a growing trend for customers to turn to third-party vendors to provide the mobile device management, particularly as companies have become more liberal about the variety of devices employees can bring to work.

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By its new policy, BlackBerry is ensuring that its devices will continue to figure in enterprises that are running networks managed by third-party MDM applications. The company said it will continue to focus on its Enterprise Mobility Management platform which helps in the deployment and management of work apps and content rather than just provide management control over mobile devices.

"MDM has become table stakes; it is no longer a meaningful point of differentiation," said John Sims, president of BlackBerry's global enterprise services, in comments Tuesday on the BlackBerry blog. He added that nothing is more secure "than a BlackBerry device managed by a BlackBerry server, because we secure end-to-end from the device, server and network level."

The Waterloo, Ontario, smartphone maker opened up its BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 management platform to devices running Android and iOS operating systems. It plans to add support for Windows Phone later this year, Sims said.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12, planned for late this year, will support iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS devices, he added. The company also plans a multi-tenant cloud version of BES12 by March 2015.

The release of BlackBerry OS 10 APIs (application programming interfaces) will enable more comprehensive management from the AirWatch console, the VMware unit said. Previously, organizations could only achieve comprehensive management of BlackBerry devices by purchasing the BES, AirWatch said in a blog post. BlackBerry has not yet specified when its APIs will be available to other MDM providers or which management functions will be enabled, it added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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