BlackBerry is looking beyond smartphones and tablets to the Internet of Things (IoT) with the recently released BES 12 management platform, which has built-in flexibility to handle whatever networks and protocols connected devices may use in the future, the firm said.
Jeff Holleran, BlackBerry's senior director for enterprise product management, said at an event in London attended by V3 that the firm had taken heed of changes in the enterprise market when it started developing what would become BES 12, which shipped earlier this month.
"BES 12 wasn't something we just dreamed up overnight. What we saw a couple of years ago was an overall shift that started to take place with respect to enterprise mobility," Holleran said.
"As we began to develop the platform, we started to understand that there were things we needed to prepare for; we didn't know what the next device is that somebody's going to want to manage and integrate with the enterprise, and we didn't know how that device was going to connect.
"We needed to prepare for that, and therefore we needed to build a platform that was future proof and allowed us to move beyond just managing BlackBerry devices. That was the premise of BES 12."
So while BES 12 has been designed to be adaptable enough to connect with any new mobile devices and platforms that may come to market in the future, BlackBerry realised that this flexibility could be harnessed to help enterprise customers manage other connected devices such as sensors.
"While BES 12 was designed and taken to market to manage smartphones and tablets, with all the things an enterprise would expect when it comes to an enterprise-grade mobility management solution, it lays the groundwork to build out into new areas like connected objects and new services within a single cohesive environment for enterprise customers," Holleran said.
"If we start to think about IoT devices that are going to be in the enterprise, they're not going to connect directly to the internet. A simple example of this is sensors in a building.
"The sensors on a floor will report to something on that floor, the floors will report to the building, and the building will report back to a centralised system where you can actually do some management.
"The communications protocols that those sensors use may or may not exist today, as new protocols optimised for low power and grid-type networking technologies come into play."
BlackBerry had already identified the IoT as a target for the QNX real-time kernel that underpins the BlackBerry 10 operating system used in its smartphones. QNX is already widely used to power devices in the medical, automotive and telecoms industries.
Earlier this year, BlackBerry announced the creation of a new business unit, the BlackBerry Technology Solutions division, as well as a series of initiatives under the codename Project Ion aimed at the IoT, including a secure application platform powered by QNX.
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