BlackBerry today gives IT two options: basic Exchange management or full-on, end-to-end BES management. Most large companies -- even financial, medical, and defense firms -- need something in between, which is what the leading MDM tools provide. BlackBerry's strategy of supporting just BES10 or Exchange essentially limited BlackBerry usage to high-security companies because very few users are choosing BlackBerrys in the kinds of companies that need only the basic secuuity that Exchange provides.
By making its APIs available to third-party MDM companies, BlackBerry is hoping to capture some of that big middle market where BES10 is overkill and Exchange is too little. In other words, BlackBerry is pulling its own server focus back to its high-security market so others can address the middle market BlackBerry does not. The company's hope is that this strategy will make BlackBerry 10 devices a real option for companies that are satisfied with what the leading MDM tools provide -- that is, most companies.
And BlackBerry hopes the move will further entrench BES within those organizations that find even Apple's management protocols (the ones MDM tools start with) insufficient -- and that are willing to do the work that BES10 requires to get the full-on security they want.
So what do companies that chose BES10 (and later BES12) get that they can't get from managing BlackBerry 10 devices via a third-party MDM tool? Here's what BlackBerry spokeswoman Sarah Burt says: "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. Data between the device and a third-party MDM would not use the BlackBerry Secure Infrastructure and the NOC [BlackBerry's private network operations center], so customers with those MDM platforms will need to use enterprise Wi-Fi or a VPN" to secure their connections.
In other words, BlackBerry is aiming to secure the entire connection life cycle, whereas MDM tools focus on securing the device and its assets and relying on SSL encryption, VPNs, and password access for the connections between devices and corporate systems.
That makes real sense. Before opening its APIs to MDM providers, BlackBerry failed the Goldilocks test, providing just a small bed or a large one. Now it has the medium size that is just right for most companies. That doesn't mean users will be more open to BlackBerry 10 devices (which are actually good devices), but it at least makes the BlackBerry 10 option reasonably available.
This article, "By licensing BES10 APIs, BlackBerry retreats to move forward," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.