The struggling mobile device maker refocuses on the enterprise with a complement to BES that manages Apple and other mobile devices. How Fusion will add Balance, and why one CIO is cautiously optimistic
Research in Motion Ltd. has announced an upcoming management platform allowing enterprises secure management of employees’ mobile devices on Apple Inc.’s iOS and Google Inc.’s Android platforms along with its own BlackBerry operating system.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion will go into beta in January and be in general availability in March, Alan Panezic, vice-president of enterprise product management and marketing for Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM, announced in a Webcast today.
That timing is significant in that next year the company’s long-delayed QNX-based operating system — called BBX — will also debut on its BlackBerry smart phones and PlayBook tablet computers.
“We find that consumerization is much broader than that,” he said. The generation of “digital natives” coming into the workforce have very different experiences about how technology works, he said. They’re not going to go to two-day training sessions; they expect their devices to work simply,. And they expect to use it for what they have to do in their personal lives as well as their business lives.
It will also take advantage of the new operating system’s Balance feature to personal and corporate apps and data separate. “End users want choice, end users want flexibility, and, most importantly, end users want fun,” Panezic said. When IT puts limitations on third-party apps for security purposes, users will try to find a workaround, exposing even more security risks.
Balance keeps third-party apps downloaded by the user in a personal perimeter, while apps pushed by the company to devices or downloaded from the corporate app store are kept in a corporate perimeter, with 256-bit AES encryption at the storage level, Panezic said. Users have to log in to access the corporate perimeter, and data and apps can’t be moved to the personal side.
“You have to keep that separation between the sheep (the corporate apps and data) and the wolves (what the user wants to do with the device),” he said.
“It sounds promising,” he said. There’s a variety of mobile platforms in use by ING staff; in fact, it was the first bank to support customer transactions on every major mobile platform.
“It’s difficult to say no” to employees who want to use their own devices on the corporate network, he said.
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