BlackBerry is set to launch a cloud-based service for managing mobile devices, including iOS and Android as well as its own BlackBerry smartphones. This should make it easier for firms to cope with the influx of worker-owned devices led by the bring your own device (BYOD) trend.
Announced at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, the yet to be named enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution is currently undergoing testing as a closed beta, but is set to be generally available by the end of November as a monthly subscription service.
A web page is available for potential customers to register interest in the upcoming EMM service.
BlackBerry said that the service will enable businesses to easily secure and manage corporate and personal devices. It builds on the capabilities of BlackBerry's on-premise BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 platform, a BlackBerry spokesperson told V3, but is not intended to replace it.
Instead, the new offering is "an extension to our overall EMM offering, and we will continue to meet the needs of our existing enterprise customers," the spokesperson said.
The new cloud-based service appears to be aimed at making it easier for organisations to adopt an EMM solution, by eliminating the need to deploy any more BES servers behind the firewall. Blackberry is also emphasising the self-service aspects of the new platform, enabling end users to perform less crucial management tasks such as changing passwords.
Stephen Bates, head of BlackBerry's Enterprise Business Unit, said in a statement that BlackBerry is evolving just as customers are through the adoption of BYOD and heterogeneous environments.
"The new cloud-based EMM solution will bring all the benefits of our on-premise offering, which is trusted by more businesses and governments around the world than any other enterprise mobility solution, to customers as a cloud service that lets them easily manage BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices more cost efficiently than ever before," he said.
According to BlackBerry, administrators will get a web-based admin console providing easy activation and deployment of BlackBerry, iOS and Android smartphones, along with app management, security policy configuration and compliance monitoring functions.
Meanwhile, end users will be able to perform tasks such as setting up or changing device passwords and remote wipe and lock of lost or stolen devices, giving them independence and saving on helpdesk calls.
The move makes BlackBerry just one of many vendors offering cloud-based mobile device management tools, but it could help the firm diversify away from relying on sales of its hardware devices, which have caused the company to take a large financial hit recently.
If BlackBerry can make good on claims that its platform is a highly cost effective solution, then it could bring in new customers. The firm is currently stating that its cloud EMM service will cost "less than a cup of coffee a month" per user, but has yet to detail exact pricing.
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