Research in Motion released BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) 5.02 today, an update that, in an unusual turnabout, copies a mobile management capability from the iPhone's iOS: the ability to manage corporate data separately from personal data. That allows, for example, IT to block access to corporate email and contacts from a device if a user leaves the company or loses the BlackBerry, while leaving the user's personal data intact. Apple introduced a similar capability in its iOS 4.0 in early June.
RIM says the new feature is designed for businesses whose employees provide their own smartphones, as many now do. It essentially creates a new "employee-liable" policy that disallows access to corporate systems if the device is locked; employees can continue to access their personal email and contact information as well as make phone calls using their personal cell service account.
But IT can't take advantage of the new BlackBerry capability just yet; handhelds will need the forthcoming new version of the BlackBerry OS to work with the new capability, RIM says. Also, the free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express server won't have the new capability until late 2010.
BES 5.02 also adds single sign-on support, the ability for users to reset their passwords and lock their devices remotely, the ability to set separate authentication requirements for specific Web sites (such as internal company sites), and support for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V 2008 (SQL Server R2 support is planned for later).