Friday, 09 December 2016 10:29

BlackBerry's new mission: protect the Enterprise of Things

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BlackBerry has revamped its enterprise product suites by integrating technologies from various recent acquisitions and adding new capabilities in an effort to protect the Enterprise of Things.

BlackBerry defines the Enterprise of Things as "the network of intelligent connections and endpoints within the enterprise that enable products to move from sketch to scale," or as chief operating officer Marty Beard told a media briefing this morning, "from idea to reality".

“Businesses must be able to confidentially and reliably transmit sensitive data between endpoints to keep people, information and goods safe,” said executive chairman and chief executive John Chen. “BlackBerry is uniquely qualified to address this emerging market now because of our deep experience, industry leadership and ongoing product innovation that addresses future business needs."

He added: “Our customers’ investments are protected because this foundational platform is not only compatible with our current products and third-party software like Microsoft Office 365, but is also ‘future-proofed’ to address upcoming capabilities such as messaging and analytics. It allows customers to build their own apps, workflows and business processes, and will be compatible with future applications and cloud-based systems because we have plans to expand the platform’s features, market segments it supports, and our entire partner ecosystem.

The BlackBerry Secure platform is intended to manage and secure all the endpoints in an enterprise, said Beard.

"It will open new markets to BlackBerry, stop hackers from penetrating devices, secure sensitive data and other intellectual property, and provide highly secure mobile communications, generally "protecting proprietary data from competitive assault."

He described BlackBerry Secure as "the most comprehensive security platform for the emerging Enterprise of Things".

The platform completes the integration of key technologies from BlackBerry acquisitions including Good Technology, WatchDox, AtHoc and Encription, and includes support for Windows 10 and macOS as well as mobile OSes.

The five suites are:

• BlackBerry UEM (formerly BES12) – management of Android for Work, Samsung KNOX, iOS, Windows 10, OS X and BlackBerry 10 systems from a single console, including device and application control.

• BlackBerry Dynamics (formerly Good Dynamics) – a development platform and container for mobile apps designed to eliminate the risk of data leakage.

• BlackBerry Workspaces (formerly WatchDox) – share, edit and control files on every device through embedded digital rights management.

• BlackBerry 2FA (formerly Strong Authentication) – replaces physical 2FA tokens with the simplicity of acknowledging a prompt on a secured mobile device.

• BlackBerry Enterprise Identity – enables single sign-on (SSO) for a variety of third-party cloud services including Office 365, Box, Dropbox, Workday and Salesforce, and goes further with mobile zero sign-on which means unlocking a phone is enough to access to services.

The suites will be offered on a subscription basis, and will incorporate relevant features of the BlackBerry Platform, said Beard.

There's more to the new suites than rebranding and streamlining, according to president of global sales Carl Wiese. They provide support for more platforms, reduce the need for VDI and VPNs, "scalability is enhanced dramatically", and BlackBerry UEM includes "snap-in technology" that allows provisioning of multiple software components at once.

He also observed that the old suites were bundled rather than integrated, from both a user's and administrator's perspective.

The platform also includes the BlackBerry SDK which allows application developers to easily integrate BlackBerry UEM, BlackBerry Workspaces and BlackBerry Dynamics services into their applications via a Platform-as-a-Service model.

To go with the platform, BlackBerry is preparing to deliver updated versions of its apps, along with a new one:

• BlackBerry Work (formerly Good Work) – collaboration (email, calendar, contacts, presence, etc).

* BlackBerry Access (formerly Good Access) – secure mobile access to web apps and intranet resources.

• BlackBerry Connect (formerly Good Connect) – real-time connection and collaboration across a range of mobile devices.

• BlackBerry Share (formerly Good Share) – safely share documents and other content while on the go, on any device.

• BlackBerry Tasks (formerly Good Tasks) – securely create, open and prioritise tasks synchronised with Microsoft Exchange.

• BlackBerry Notes – create, edit and maintain a tile-view list of notes.

The inclusion of these apps in the various suites will save customers from having to purchase equivalents from other vendors, said enterprise product marketing director Michael Khalili. For example, Notes is an enterprise replacement for Evernote, he said.

BlackBerry expects to ship all these products during the first 10 days of January 2017, according to Wiese. Dozens of customers have already participated in early trials, he said.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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