Thoughts on BlackBerry opening BB10 to non-BES MDM

By Craig Johnston on 14 May 2014 03:58 pm EDT

BlackBerry opens up BB10 to outside MDM platforms. Right after I read this headline I thought I saw a pig flying out the corner of my eye. Is BlackBerry really allowing BB10 devices to be managed by another companies MDM system? Surely not?

We don't have too much information right now, but we do have many questions.

How It Works Today

Today, you can activate a BB10 device directly against an ActiveSync server. While you can, this is not a popular option because it is not very flexible.

You can also activate your BB10 device against a BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 server. Then your IT administrator can place restrictions on your BB10 device, see what you have installed, remotely wipe it, etc.

Today a BB10 device cannot activate directly against an MDM systems like MobileIron, AirWatch, etc. Through web services, an IT administrator can have a tiny bit of control over BB10 devices activated against a BES10, from a foreign MDM console, using the BlackBerry Administration Service (BAS). This is normally just used by IT to help migrate you off BlackBerry and onto another platform.

Many Questions

Since a BlackBerry and the BES it is activated against use the BlackBerry NOC for all communications, what happens when you activate a BB10 against another MDM system? Will BlackBerry provide the MDM vendor with code to allow its product to act as a BES and communicate via the NOC? Will you get an SRP ID for your MobileIron server? Will the NOC be forgotten and not used at all in the future?

Will BlackBerry still require a BES10 server plus your foreign MDM server of choice??

Will BlackBerry still require a BES10 license fee per device?

You can read the full press release here and the Q&A session on the subject with John Sims here.

Let us know what you think about this announcement. Do you think BlackBerry just took too long with their MDM system, BES10? Are they giving up too much by allowing outside companies to manage their devices?

Reader comments

Thoughts on BlackBerry opening BB10 to non-BES MDM


I guess it does come down to how it is ultimately configured, as your questions indicate.

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

From Air watch being owned by VMWare with their plans to integrate AirWatch within their cloud services I'm not too worried.

But integration seamless management and a proper realization of an end to end solution no longer stands to be true.

Posted via CB10

To reiterate and expand on a previous comment:

a) no crutches allowed; all divisions of BB needs to perform and execute well. may galvanize the troops at BB Cortés style.

b) one of the most compelling features of BES / BB10, aka BB balance, will probably still a BES exclusive and not opened up via an API.

c) they really believe in the competitiveness of the feature set of BES and the prize its being sold at in the market place, and in the upcoming BES12.

I can't see BlackBerry handing over the full rains to manage all aspects of a BlackBerry 10 smartphone from another MDM solution. Or.. it seems strange to allocate big resources, aka programmer hours, to make the necessary APIs. Surly there most be a huge opportunity cost if they have to do it that way.

If anything I'm really excited for BES12, the hardware and the services that will be launched alongside it. But I'd love to have been a fly on the wall the day JC approved that decision.

Posted via CB10

If you want to get people using the handsets, we have to get them deployed. If one of the MDMS gets hacked and the only phones on it that doesn't is the Blackberries, then the proof is in the pudding.

Rock on the Flying B...

From my Z30 on Wind Mobile

Posted via CB10

QNX is to Apple Carplay as BB10 is to other MDM Systems.

This is only my assumption:

When you get down to it. You have the option of going full blackberry(BB10 + BES) or you can have BB10 as the underlying os with other MDM systems kind of like an app in a secure boxed environment. I guess it's kind of like BB10 running android apps.

If you ask me, full blackberry all the way.

Full BlackBerry is the way to go, but most consumers (and apparently IT) aren't that concerned with security to implement top-down bb. And thats why this move makes sense

Posted via secure bb10.2.1.2179

I think it will put bb10 on the same playing field as other devices when it comes to being managed by other MDM solutions. In regards to bes10, BlackBerry needs to work as well as other MDM solutions do with ios and android for anyone to want to switch or stay with bes10 or bes12...

When I last tested bes10 on ios I could not get it to work because of bugs with the new maybe that has been fixed by now, but it was not good enough to even remotely switch to bes10. As for bb10 devices it is the best thing since slice bread.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30 with AT&T

Yeah, requiring 'full blackberry' also worked out brilliantly for the Playbook didn't it?

Instead of forcing to use product X because of lock-in with service Y (and thus running the risk of neither being purchased), you better make sure that both X and Y both hold their own against their competitors.

WTF are you trying to say?

QNX isn't related to Apple CarPlay the underlying systems are not connected.

By the other statement makes sense but not; without full feature set of BES10, why should any company bother with using another MDM solution in house and paying for a license fee per seat per year when they can just use Active sync and forget about balance? If anything it should be BlackBerry 10 + BES all day everyday long!

Posted via CB10

I think he's trying to say that non BlackBerry MDM solutions will run as a service on top of BlackBerry10, much like CarPlay runs on QNX in the car.

Posted via CB10

Its good bc BlackBerry is finally waking up from a LONG nap!!

Posted via secure bb10.2.1.2179

I think this could backfire...There's nothing much to gain expect few thousand low margin devices...but they loose competetive edge of being only MDM player to support all devices.

Posted via CB10

To me it's very positive to open up the bb10 devices to other MDM solutions. Companies that value the BBRY value prop will by their end to end solution. Before this announcement, it was not possible for blackberry to capture any of the device sales for companies not using blackberry MDM...but now that changes. Should be little downside (given their current market position) and a chance to seed more devices into the wild.

Posted via CB10 (7250 -> 8703e -> 9530 -> 9550 -> 9650 -> 9930 -> PlayBook -> Z10 -> Z30)

One correction, active sync does work with bb10 today. :)

Posted via CB10 (7250 -> 8703e -> 9530 -> 9550 -> 9650 -> 9930 -> PlayBook -> Z10 -> Z30)

What good is that competitive edge if the consensus is, "nobody carried a BlackBerry anymore."? If BlackBerry was still relevant and selling competitively, then I would agree whole heartedly with this. Sadly, that's not the case.

Posted via CB10

You mean they were the only MDM to support BB10 handsets?

The issue is that many shops don't seem to care about a lack of BB10 management when choosing an MDM. Instead, they just pressure BB10-using employees to migrate off BB10.

Differentiating BES 10/12 on the ability manage BlackBerry handsets isn't going to work anyhow IMO. BES needs to have other "must have" features of interest to even non-BB shops.

If you aren't currently using BES, then you likely don't care about BB10 management anyhow. BB10 is just a nuisance. However, if it comes bundled with your MDM of choice then BB10 is no longer a nuisance, but just another device.

But I'm not an MDM expert.

Posted via CB10

take a risk, try something bold. As the lowest TCO MDM solution, this may open doors. for anyone evaluating an MDM solution that is not already a BES customer, BES may not even be a consideration at this point.. by opening up to other MDM's they may be unlocking potential deals that they may not have had access to otherwise. if nothing else, it's getting BB in the headlines over the last few days.

Companies dropping their usage of BES should not be a reason to force employees to get rid of their BlackBerry but, sadly, it is. This decision puts BlackBerry on the path to preventing that from happening in the future. Now, this can keep BlackBerry in the enterprise market as just a smartphone, as opposed to a smartphone with an MDM solution or just an MDM solution.

While BES will no longer be the only MDM solution to support the 3 major mobile platforms, they still offer the biggest savings, the most security, and the most bells and whistles. They have to be confident in their competitive edge in those regards and I think this move shows it. Besides, they are going to include Windows Phone in the near future so, that will once again distinguish them from the rest. ;-)

Posted via CB10

I think it gives people the choice and I T loves to have choices. It's all about time and I think in time this successful option will lead to more money and more BlackBerry devices being deployed instead of the competition.

Nice move BlackBerry!

Posted using the best phone ever, the Z30!

Opening up to other MDM solutions means ultimately someone or some company will be able to use a BlackBerry product, whether it's BES10/12 with other devices or BB10 devices with other MDMs.

The other option is, companies will just go the mainstream way and use a competitor's MDM with the usual iOS / Android setup, and force BB users to switch. Not anymore, if they go this way.

Which ever way, BlackBerry product gets out and in thw news.

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

Well I guess it's more Air watch, IBM and so on being able to implement BB10 devices in a fleet of phones. Actually only BES 10 can run BB10 devices.

So it's just a way of saying, "hey, you moved to the competition because we were slow to answer your needs, well in case our handset are still awesome to certain of your users...we are making sure your new provider can run them"

Well I have to say from an MDM point of view, the BES 5 to BES 10 transition made more harm than good to BlackBerry.

BES 10 initial release was unable to run old BBOS. So it was a matter of "swap all or nothing to our newest offer "

That's where the competition growth is due.

Now regarding the complexity of a BES setup and maintenance, I don't get why there isn't any cloud based offer yet.

Opening BB10 to other MDM vendors may help BlackBerry to place handsets in the future, so they may recognise the BYOD trend finally, they may also believe in their future devices as groundbreaking, isn't it the most important part for all?

Posted via CB10

It's cheaper and more importantly, WAY better if an enterprise uses BES and BlackBerry 10 devices only. NO OTHER SOLUTION COMPARES.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry has always met the needs of corporations, it's only the f#cktard whiners who complained because they couldn't play angry birds on their work phone. Screw BYOD and screw you. LOL

Posted via CB10

Well... if angry birds lead to this kind of consumer loss, then it's worth the consideration...

Posted via CB10

I think that they are worried that they might get pushed out by microsoft or someone else if they don't open up.

Posted via CB10

Sell devices through services... still the same strategy. They need to reach critical (devices) volume, even with Foxconn. I suppose there's a fee for APIs usage... sounds like a good mix. [thinking out loud, need some time to digest and get more infos]

Posted via CB10

Too many companies have moved off of BES, so it's great for the byod users to be able to have the choice of bb10 devices if their company requires the ability to manage. My company has never had BES, so it's only through activesync that I can even use a q10 at work.

Smart decision. My company uses air watch and no blackberries are allowed for now even though some people have asked for it. They gave up in BED because it was too expensive. At least this way we can still have blackberries on the network

Posted via CB10

This HAD to be done. BlackBerry is losing major contracts and they need to be continue to play in the space. This is not something new for them, BlackBerry legacy devices could be managed by other platforms before. ActiveSync is embedded into BB10. It only makes sense as they are playing catch up in the consumer field (a LONG way to go), and other vendors allow their devices to be managed separately. BlackBerry is finally allowing their devices (through the Foxconn partnership, now this) to stand on their own, and not hold them back. BES 10 (soon 12) is a full cross platform solution, and should be treated as a separate endeavor from their hardware business. 

You guys are making too much of this. BlackBerry is doing this for exactly the most obvious reason you would think that they would. They are putting the pieces in place to exit the smartphone business within the next five years.

Posted via CB10

I can understand the driver behind this decision - it goes something like this... In the 2000's company X buys BlackBerry server (BIS). BIS works flawlessly; however, some unknown company has released a toy they have called iPhone. Kids everywhere are asking their boss if they can use their new toys on the company network. In 2010 company X wants to use both BlackBerry and apple phones but BIS does not cater to this arrangement so Company X invest in XYZ server to manage their apple devices. In 2014 BlackBerry offer a server (BES10) that can manage both BlackBerry and apple devices BUT... company X does not want to upgrade to BES10 as they see no need for another server and already invested in XYZ server recently. In the mean time BlackBerry have released some kickass phones but they do not run on either BIS or company X's apple server. Therefore, company X cannot use BB10 phones... unless BlackBerry allow BB10 devices to run on XYZ server.

This will be a good temporary solution to increase BB10 device sales but as they say - once the genie is out of the bottle it is bloody hard to get him back in!

I personally think that this is a good move given the various variables at play.

Posted via CB10

As a BES Admin, I think this is a great move on BlackBerry part.

We have BES10 in our environment today that allows us to manage our BlackBerry, BlackBerry 10 and iOS devices. We currently don't have any Android but because the functionality is there in BES10 , we plan to test them and Windows Phone in the future.

I am speculating that companies like mine who are running competitive MDM will venture down the same road if BlackBerry 10 devices can be managed at a similar level.


Posted via CB10 & my killer BlackBerry Z30

No disrespect meant whatsoever, but who are you, Craig? Don't think I've seen any articles here from you before, much less an editorial about MDM.

Not digging the Google Glass, but digging the credentials. Thanks Sith, and welcome (back,) Craig!

I think they're just giving people options. If a company isn't completely focused on hard core security then people with a BB10 can still be hooked onto their existing system.l it's more flexible and probably better for business. People who want good security will still buy BES. I don't think that will hurt sales at all

Posted via CB10

Container, maybe with BlackBerry co-dev, but no NOC...leave some goodies for BES...the bb10 phones themselves have enough value for enterprise.

Posted via CB10

Off topic. I like the new Crackberry dark theme! My eyes thank you very much! Keep on with the improvements!


Cartman says: Screw you guys I'm going home!

This will work just like android. Basic config, wifi profiles, vpn profiles. Maybe an app to support the mdm interface to calendar/contacts/etc like how bes10 works on ios/android. You won't have deep integration. You might have hub.

That's the point, soon they can have already switched MDM systems to a rival product but they can allow BB10 handsets to connect because that rival product can support them.

Posted via CB10 on Z30 STA100-2 / on O2 UK - Activated on BES10.2.2

I think this is a good thing.

The BlackBerry device is going to survive or die. If it can't survive on its own, you aren't doing any good by linking the device to BES.

The BES requirement is hurting the device business more that it is helping the BES business.

BB10 is a good product. It's not for everyone, but it has its place and (I think) it has its customers. Remove as many barriers as you can.

I do think that they should strive to keep BlackBerry on BES as the highest standard in functionality, security, and lowest TCO. For business who are truly interested in that, a financially stable BlackBerry will have an audience.

But for everyone else, make BlackBerry 10 available to as many as possible.

Question is, how to get good, airwatch, and mobile iron to support BB10. That is going to take a while. But, if you a). Make it possible and b). Convince users that they want BB10.

Consumers want BB10, then organizations will require MDM to support it, and MDM will support it.

The problem with this is you have a situation of chicken-before-the-egg. But, you have to find a way to create the chicken and the egg. Don't wait on one before the other.

It's not an easy road, but that is the road that BlackBerry is on. It's either that or fail. And, I'm a sucker for the underdog.

My Opinion.....the new devices that they are rolling out are going to be so kick ass that they know people are going to want them and if the MDM Server they have can support them.......then no obstacles to buying the latest BlackBerry Device.

Swiped from my Zed10

Posted via CB10

Am I the only one who grinned at the image of a pig flying out of the corner of Craig's eye? Oh ok then... moving on... :-D

Posted with my Q10, SQN100-2, Radio

Blackberry 10 Balance should be made available to the public without use of physical enterprise servers. They should offer Cloud BES anywhere from $10-$20 per month per device or special group pricing. Also as a BONUS, bring back BLACKBERRY.NET emails. NO CARRIER prefixes either. This should be called something along the lines of "BES lite" or "BES Cloud" offered to regular consumers.

I am aware that BES cloud is in beta but it's well over due to the general population. EVERY PERSON NEEDS & WANTS to balance work and personal no matter the platform.

Posted via CB10

Bad bad idea. This is the reason they are still the no1 mdm/emm firm in the world, they would lose if they save their API's to another set of firms

Posted via CB10

Normal costumers don't care about security the prove most people round the globe are using android smartphones. Let's move on !

Posted via CB10

What's so hard to understand?
Don't use a BES tunnel, use the one from another vendor to connect to an app installed on a BlackBerry 10 device which provides all the endpoints the MDM needs.
No BB NOC, no BES, no BB licenses

Has anybody seen a time line? When is air watch going to able to handle BlackBerry 10 traffic?
I appreciate the help.

Posted via CB10

Dude..... you don't BES for it.

BlackBerry 10 configured by active sync can be controlled by IT administrator on Google Apps Business editions or an official email using Google apps.

Remote wipe is possible and admin can set a rule that email can sync only if a user had a password or pin set to unlock device.

Posted via CB10

My thoughts on this are simple, and reflect on how the stock market gets affected.
The other thought is of course whether or not BlackBerry can still maintain security integrity under this move.