HP launches cloud-based BlackBerry printing, BES management

HP Inc. has teamed with Research In Motion Ltd. to unveil two new BlackBerry services, including a cloud-based mobile printing service and a BlackBerry Enterprise Server management tool.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based hardware and software giant has worked with the BlackBerry maker in the past for a variety of managed service offering for the smart phone as well as the BES-optimized ProLiant G6 line of servers. But with the launch of two new services, the companies are renewing their strategic alliance and looking to dominate the enterprise mobility market along the way.

With CloudPrint for BlackBerry, HP is offering a cloud-based tool that will allow users to store and print e-mails, documents and photos from their devices. The service will work with any printer and is completely driverless, only requiring an Internet connection.

“As much as we love these mobile devices, trying to read some of these documents, especially ones with lots of details on them can be difficult on the mobile screen,” said Paul Tsaparis, president and CEO at HP Canada. “This gives users the ability to take a document and direct it to a printer wherever they may be.”

The service, which is exclusively available to enterprises users for the time being, will be especially useful for mobile workers who have to pore over spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, he added.

Jack Gold, president and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, said that the printing service is an interesting idea, but one with little value to enterprise road warriors.

“Honestly, I don’t know how many people are going to use a printing function,” he said. “The whole purpose of being on a BlackBerry is to be mobile, running around and carrying your stuff with you. Where are you even going to find a printer in most cases?”

HP’s second announcement came in the form of Operations Manager for BES 5.0 and was targeted at CFOs and CIOs looking to centrally monitor and manage their BlackBerry fleets. The tool will provide a consolidated view and give administrators the opportunity to take directive actions, HP said.

“Inevitably, CFOs and CIOs are very concerned with the expenses associated with their mobile environments,” Tsaparis said. “What Operations Manager does at a starting point is allows you to better understand and discover your mobile infrastructure. By understanding that environment you can effectively manage it moving forward.”

Gold said that while not earth-shattering, the tool might be welcomed by BES shops. The ability to tightly link the management function of the BES manager with the rest of HP’s Operations Manager software will be key to its effectiveness, he added.

“It’s the convenience factor that companies are going to look for,” Gold said. “The question is how much management functionality available in BES makes it into HP’s other management tools.”

If it can link into other systems and populate BES with policies, such as linking with HR’s systems after an employee with a BlackBerry is terminated, IT departments will buy in, he added.

HP will officially launch the services at this week’s Wireless Enterprise Symposium for BlackBerry Users in Orlando.

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