BlackBerry, Microsoft Dive Into Cloud Together


BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion and Microsoft are teaming up around a cloud computing strategy through which the two tech titans integrate cloud services and solutions.

RIM said Thursday that cloud computing has always been a major component of its BlackBerry business, whether it's real-time push, security or the backend architecture and RIM's 2011 BlackBerry Product roadmap will focus heavily on the cloud.

"Cloud has been our business for years," Alec Taylor, RIM's vice president of software services and enterprise marketing, said during a BlackBerry Webcast, adding that the Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone giant plans to continue its cloud push in coming years.

As part of its cloud strategy, Taylor said BlackBerry has three distinct cloud offerings in the works.

RIM is expected to launch BlackBerry Enterprise Service, which is the ability to deploy and manage BlackBerry devices in the cloud. Available in late 2011 for a monthly subscription service, BlackBerry Enterprise Service will include features similar to BlackBerry's on-premise BlackBerry Enterprise Server in the cloud.

It is with the BlackBerry Enterprise Service where Microsoft comes in, as the two companies are teaming up to offer BlackBerry Service for Microsoft Office 365 and Hosted Exchange. The partnership will make RIM-hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Service available to users ofMicrosoft Office 365, the upcoming iteration of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) cloud computing applications play that comprises Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online. At the start, BlackBerry Service for Microsoft Office 365 will be available for the Exchange component of Office 365, with more integration to come.

Taylor said that through the relationship BES servers in RIM's data centers can connect cloud-to-cloud with Microsoft data centers.

"Rather than having a BES hosted in a Microsoft data center, it is now hosted by RIM," he said.

Capabilities will include wireless syncing with Exchange Online; BlackBerry Balance, which lets enterprise users leverage BlackBerry smartphones for both personal and businesses uses without compromising data; remote device wiping; security and online policy management; single sign-on with Microsoft Office 365; and automatic BlackBerry and RIM software updates.

Taylor said RIM-hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Service will be available to customers on a subscription basis starting at $0 per user per month with a BlackBerry service plan. The deal will also see Microsoft changing the price of the current Microsoft-hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Service for its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) standard edition making it $0 per user per month.

Taylor said RIM and Microsoft will launch a closed beta of the new BlackBerry Service for Microsoft Office 365 this year, with general availability by the end of the year.

Next: More Cloud Services; RIM BlackBerry PlayBook For Enterprise