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On Tuesday, BlackBerry launched a service allowing government agencies and corporate clients to secure and manage devices powered by Google Inc’s Android platform and Apple Inc’s iOS operating system.
The long-anticipated offering, which BlackBerry had said would come out around mid-year, could help the company sell high-margin services to its large clients even if many, or all, of their workers are using smartphones made by its competitors.
Remaining relevant in a world where more than nine out of 10 smartphones shipped are based on either Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS isn’t easy for BlackBerry. The company can already manage devices based on Android and iOS, and support for BlackBerry Messenger is on the way.
BlackBerry announced Secure Work Space in March and has now made good on a promise to ship it before June 30. The software is an add-on to BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10, and it adds a managed container to protect corporate data and applications running on Android and iOS devices.
Users get integrated email, calendar and contacts, as well as secure browser access to intranets and document editing capabilities. Data is protected both when stored on the device and when transferred to and from enterprise servers, according to BlackBerry.
“The concept is right and very similar to what AT&T offers with Toggle. Creating two different ‘personas’ on mobile devices is becoming a best practise for enterprises. Buying it from BlackBerry is probably most relevant for enterprises that have a major commitment to BlackBerry 10 and BES10,” said Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner.
Secure Work Space, which is based on software from OpenPeak, the BES 10 server software is free to download. Annual client access licenses for Secure Work Space are $99 per year and device.
“With an integrated management console, our clients can now see all of the devices they have on
BlackBerry has installed some 18,000 BES 10 servers since the system was launched in January, up from a little more than 12,000 servers one month ago, and more than 60 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies are testing or using the system.
The feature, when used to manage Android and iOS devices, will allow IT managers to fence off corporate email, calendars, contacts, tasks, memos, Web browsing and document editing from personal apps and content, which could be less secure.