BlackBerry, Microsoft Cloud Play Goes To Open Beta

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion's (RIM) and Microsoft's cloud collaboration

First discussed in March, the BlackBerry and Microsoft cloud integration, dubbed BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365, also lets users self-manage their BlackBerry deployments in the cloud.

RIM said that the new BlackBerry Business Cloud Services play also gives managed service providers, systems integrators, carriers, resellers and other channel partners the ability to manage their customers' BlackBerry smartphone deployments.

"BlackBerry Business Cloud Services is an easy and cost-effective way for businesses and government agencies to extend Microsoft Office 365 to BlackBerry smartphones and manage the deployment in the cloud," said Alan Panezic, RIM vice president, in a statement. "We have been working together with Microsoft and select customers through an early access program and we are pleased to now launch an open beta for the service."

According to the two companies, key features of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 include access to Microsoft Exchange Online e-mail, calendar and organizer data from BlackBerry smartphones; BlackBerry Balance technology, an offering that presents a unified view of work and personal content on a Blackberry smartphone while keeping both types of content separate and secure; a Web console for cloud-based provisioning, managing and securing of BlackBerry devices; and online access to employee self-service smartphone security functions, which let users reset a device password, lock a device remotely or wipe data from a device if it is lost or stolen.

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According to RIM, Microsoft Office 365 Midsized Business and Enterprise plan subscribers can sign up for the open beta of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for no additional charge.

"BlackBerry Business Cloud Services will help accelerate how BlackBerry customers can realize the full benefits of the best productivity experience across the PC, browser and phone with Microsoft Office 365," said Julia White, senior director of Microsoft's Exchange Product Management Group, said in a statement. "This new service delivers valuable enhancements to Office 365 while preserving the cost and business agility benefits the cloud offers to organizations of all sizes."

RIM has said that cloud computing has always been an integral part of its BlackBerry product roadmap, and 2011 will be no exception as RIM plans to add a host of new cloud products to its BlackBerry portfolio.