BlackBerry In 2011: A Peek At 10 Products On RIM's Road Map

BlackBerry In The Enterprise: RIM Looks To 2011

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has a lot up its sleeve for 2011. And this week the Canadian smartphone maker gave a group of press and analysts a sneak peek at the BlackBerry product road map for the year.

While RIM couldn't dig into some of the specifics, the folks at BlackBerry offered a high-level overview of their plans. One of the key messages, RIM said, is to not stray from the fundamentals and keep mobility, BlackBerry's bread and butter, as the central focus.

"We're on the verge of this next great wave of computing changing, and it's all around mobile," said Alec Taylor, RIM's vice president of software, services and enterprise. Later, Taylor added: "The fundamentals still matter. In fact, the fundamentals matter now more than ever before."

Whether its cloud computing, on-premise e-mail, smartphones or tablets, RIM has big plans for the enterprise in 2011.

Cloud Takes Center Stage

"We're putting tremendous effort into building out a BES [BlackBerry Enterprise Server] cloud story solution, and we'll have product out by the end of 2011," said Peter Devenyi, vice president of the communication platform group for RIM.

First, RIM and BlackBerry will make some key architectural changes to BES to make it cloud-ready and enable one BES to support multiple corporations. This multitenant approach will boost scalability, RIM said. In addition, there will be both cloud and on-premise deployment options and a new open messaging interface to let new BES variants be created by third-party partners.

Manage BlackBerry Smartphones In The Cloud

Later in 2011, RIM will launch cloud-based Mobile Device Management For BlackBerry, an opt-in service for SMBs and small groups that lets users and admins manage BlackBerry smartphones via the cloud through a Web-based console. According to RIM, device management from the cloud will be aimed at a small number of users that leverage ISP or hosted e-mail solutions and enables central management of e-mail for all employees and users. Functions available through the cloud include password reset, device details, e-mail deletion and management of BlackBerry Protect features like device lock, wipe, send messaging, backup and restore.

A New, Improved BES

RIM BlackBerry plans to launch the latest version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), version 5.0.3, in early 2011. The latest BES will add a host of new features including encrypted attachment support; certification with Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 and Lync 2010; support for assigning Wi-Fi and VPN to groups of users; sortable columns with export capabilities in BlackBerry Administration Service; and full support for employee-owned smartphones through the new BlackBerry Balance feature.

A Work/Life 'Balance'

In a bid to create a work/life balance and enable the same BlackBerry smartphone to be used for business and personal use, RIM plans to launch BlackBerry Balance with the new version of BES in early 2011.

BlackBerry Balance lets enterprises support employee-owned BlackBerry smartphones. It lets admins delete only work data and applications from a device when a user leaves the company; lets admins perform a complete wipe if necessary; and can remove corporate IT policies from a BlackBerry. BlackBerry Balance also prevents users from compromising corporate data by not allowing them to cut, copy or paste work data into personal applications and e-mails. It sends a warning when sending an e-mail or calendar invite outside the company. It can prevent users from forwarding corporate e-mail, calendar and PIM data through BlackBerry Internet Service and prevent device backups. BlackBerry Balance also controls and encrypts work data stored on the media card and prevents access to work data by third-party apps and add-ons.

BlackBerry Mobile Voice System Gets A Boost

RIM plans to launch BlackBerry Mobile Voice System version 5.0.2 in early 2011, adding support for new PBXes like Avaya and Nortel through the use of a SIP gateway. Then, later in 2011, RIM will launch BlackBerry MVS 5.1, which adds automatic hand-offs between Wi-Fi and mobile cellular networks, a function that required manual intervention in previous versions. It will also offer a new BlackBerry MVS client on the device that enables moving calls from the desk to the smartphone. Another MVS update enables third-party ISVs to build MVS applications and extensions.

MDaemon Messaging Gets BlackBerry Support

In early 2011, RIM will launch the MDaemon Messaging Server, BlackBerry Edition, an on-premise SMB e-mail system that adds BlackBerry support.

The MDaemon Messaging Server, BlackBerry Edition stems from RIM's 2009 acquisition of Grapevine, Texas-based messaging software maker Alt-N. The new product boasts easy installation and offers features similar to an Exchange messaging server at a fraction of the cost, RIM said. Users get access to BlackBerry administration through the MDaemon Console, can set IT polices and support an unlimited number of BlackBerry users.

Broadcasts Get A Push

RIM also unveiled BlackBerry Pushcast Software, a rebranding of the Chalk Pushcast Software, which RIM brought aboard in its acquisition of Chalk Media Corp.

The BlackBerry Pushcast Software lets users push communications and media to BlackBerry devices and track their consumption. For example, presentations can be blasted out to all deployed BlackBerry devices. New features in BlackBerry Pushcast Software 5.7, which will launch this year, include BlackBerry 6 OS support, support for the BlackBerry PlayBook and API support so other applications can create a Pushcast.

SharePoint Gets A Mobile Boost

RIM plans to release BlackBerry Client for Microsoft SharePoint in early 2011, which integrates document management and SharePoint capabilities with BlackBerry functionality. The BlackBerry Client for Microsoft SharePoint offers secure document management and SharePoint calendar event sharing while on the go. Users can download, upload, edit, save, send links to shared documents and mark favorites. The SharePoint client integrates with BlackBerry applications for e-mail, calendar, Documents To Go, browser and more, RIM said.

BlackBerry Plays The Middleware Game

RIM will launch BlackBerry Enterprise Application Middleware (BEAM) sometime in 2011. BEAM is a new server that sits between the BES and enterprise application servers like SQL, Oracle and more. BEAM pushes alerts and notifications to client side applications via PIN, e-mail or phone number and to core or customer apps; it makes device information available on server side applications and server side apps can query devices on demand; and it can move large files from server to BlackBerry to server.

Tablets Are Go

RIM is still coy about the release date and the price of the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet: The company says it will be available in the first quarter of 2011 and be "competitively priced." But RIM said the touch-screen tablet will have both a consumer and enterprise play and will be a big focus in its 2011 strategy.

For consumers, the PlayBook will feature Web browsing, media applications and content and access to BlackBerry App World. For the enterprise, BlackBerry Bridge will enable users to sync the PlayBook with their BlackBerry smartphones for access to corporate apps and functions. Meanwhile, the device features AES 256 encryption and BES policy controls. It also adds document viewing and editing.