If Research in Motion ships its reinvented BlackBerry devices by April 2013 as currently promised, IT will face a big decision: whether to support the new BlackBerry 10 platform, which requires an entirely new management server than the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) that has been part of IT ships for well over a decade. That's right, BES won't manage BlackBerry 10 devices, and RIM won't upgrade BES to do so. Instead, the imminent BES 5.0.4 is the end of the road, though it will be supported for the foreseeable future.
RIM now says it will ship a new mobile management server called BlackBerry Device Service to manage BlackBerry 10 devices. But BDS won't manage today's BlackBerrys. And, confusingly, BDS does exist today in limited form as part of the Mobile Fusion product to support BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, for the handful of companies that use them. The new BDS will expand its support to include BlackBerry 10 devices.
[ IT: The three steps to saying bye-bye to BlackBerry. Users: How to transfer your BlackBerry contacts to iOS or Android. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with InfoWorld's Mobilize newsletter. ]
At the end of the day, this means an organization will need to run both BES and BDS servers if they have a mix of BlackBerry devices: BlackBerry 7 and earlier smartphones will be managed by BES, and BlackBerry 10 smartphones and any PlayBooks will be managed by BDS.
Late last week, RIM revealed its plans to provide a Web-based console so that IT can manage both BES and BDS devices from a single pane of glass. This console is called BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (not Server, as in BES) and is promised to ship at the same time as the BlackBerry 10 devices and the compatible version of BDS. It's not a unified BlackBerry management server, just a common front end.