RIM jams for enterprise developers

Research In Motion’s campaign to stoke fires of passion for its upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform moved another step this week with a month-long schedule of seminars around the world aimed specifically at enterprise developers.

These are a crucial audience for RIM, for business users are the heart of its user base. So far several BlackBerry Jam conferences have been aimed at consumer app developers, but starting Tuesday RIM embarked on an 11-city tour to talk up the advantages of the BB10 platform for serious creators of enterprise apps and to help developers write app for the new operating system.

But the day-long Toronto session, which attracted some 50 people looking for help installing the BlackBerry 10 software development kit as well as an overview of BB 10, got a mixed reception.

There were people like Donovan Sangster, an IT operations analyst at Kinross Gold Corp., who said after the morning session he learned enough to tell his employer it has reasons to wait for BB10, which RIM has promised will be released in the first quarter of next year.

That includes the new platform’s security features, data compression and its ability to let users write email in more than one language.

On the other hand, Mike Popovic, senior vice-president of asset and service management for the Montreal-based IT consulting company Createch Group, which writes enterprise BlackBerry applications, wasn’t so impressed after the morning presentation.

Popovic, who brought two of the firms developers with him to pick up some tips, said Createch is “anxiously awaiting something new from RIM, as our customers are demanding something new.”

“RIM needs to do something quickly, we need to so something quickly because our customers are evolving. We’re seeing many of them looking at or even adopting Android or iPhones in the enterprise and we want to stop that.as quickly as possible We want a robust solution so we can start informing our customers and start developing so we have it ready when [BB10] comes out.”

RIM has been gradually unveiling new BB10 features since May, ,and Popovic was hoping for more. He was disappointed, at least after the morning session.

In particular, he said, he wants to see something “cool” to impress customers pondering moving to other mobile platforms.

“My enterprise customers that are remaining on RIM, I think I can say enough to keep them waiting … My issue is some of them have started to adopt other platforms and for them the cat’s out of the bag,.and I’m trying to find compelling reasons for them to slow down that expansion to other platforms.”

One of RIM’s weapons in the fight for enterprise developer attention is John Mutter, a RIM enterprise mobility architect, who gave the main morning presentation.

 “Other smart phone providers are nothing more than a smart phone,” he said in an interview. “They give you a shiny new device and that’s what you get. You want MDM (mobile device management), there’s a vendor that sells it. You want a container solution, there’s a vendor that sells contiainers. You need a VPN? You need to access the back-end enterprise. You want an app world you can manage and deploy applications with. There’s a vendor that can sell that.”

What BlackBerry has is a platform that includes the upcoming BlackBerry Device Services for managing BB10 and Playbook tablets, which will soon run under a common interface with BlackBerry Enterprise Server for older BlackBerrys. There’s BlackBerry Balance, which allows IT administrators to separate work and personal data on BlackBerry devices, and BlackBerry AppWorld, which organizations can use for deploying corporate apps.

“All those things don’t exist on the smart phone,” Mutter said. “They exist on a platform. And that’s what BB brings to the table.”

Popovic heard that and more. Yet still he found something missing. f

–“I‘m waiting for something to be announced that makes this device a little more cooler. So far I haven’t seen anything,” he said.

He admitted that cool is in the eye of the beholder. But, he added, “I’ll know I when I see it.”

BlackBerry Jam Enterprise is being held in Ottawa, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Sao Paulo, Washington, New York City, Madrid, Mexico City and winds up Nov. 28 in Chicago.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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