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BlackBerry Enterprise Server - Report from the RIM Wireless Enterprise Symposium

From the floor of RIM's Wireless Enterprise Symposium, Norm Follett reports... 

There is no sign of a recession in Orlando. As an attendee / presenter at Research in Motion’s 2009 Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) the sense of energy and camaraderie around the mobile professional who consider their Blackberry to be an extra appendage, reminds one of the pre dot bomb days.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server - heart of all BlackBerry deployments
The big message here is around the Blackberry Enterprise Server 5.0 (BES) and its enterprise-oriented features which advance the scalability, security, and usability of the mobile environment. For those not in the know, center to all Blackberry deployments is the Blackberry Enterprise Server, which drives the connectivity and communication across email and data storage services. Many carriers support this service internally to their backbones but call it Blackberry Internet Service (BIS). Regardless, it is the same application with a slightly different deployment model. The ability to view attachments with email, Project, PowerPoint, and view high-end video are among the ‘professional’ friendly features that Research in Motion is taunting as now being supported by BES 5.0. RIM is noting that they have over 100 deployments in production today of their new server (including themselves) and this is the most tested release they’ve ever done. The faithful seem duly impressed. RIM notes there currently are over 200,000 BES servers deployed around the world today.

Going Mobile
All this underscores the trend that all mobility companies and their providers are recognizing/pushing that the ‘handheld’ office is going prime time with businesses. It’s not just email anymore. Providing ‘business supporting services’ on your handheld is not just a cool thing, it will soon be a requirement. Being able to effectively manage and securely deliver data via the handheld is a must.

Business oriented application development, deployment and support is a big new thing as well. As Robin Bienfait, CIO of Blackberry and former head of AT&T Global services noted in a private ‘fireside’ chat for about 80 CxO types, “If you’re trying to figure out how to deploy and support apps on the handheld now, you’re behind. We want to help you catch up”. The takeaway here it that is not just the consumer apps that are taking off (Apple) but the business apps where the next push is coming. By the way, Blackberry clearly has an app developer friendly agenda with their own version of an App Store announced and a scheduled app developer oriented conference for the fall in the SF area. They are after their consumer share as well, not just the business apps.

HP’s presence here and associated announcements have legitimately created a buzz. At the same ‘fireside’ meeting (It was a picture of a fireplace in a PowerPoint slide), Paul Tsaparis CEO of HP Canada reinforced the two primary messages here, The ‘CloudPrint’ capability for the handheld and HP Operations Manager for the Blackberry Enterprise. Both of these are being well received with the “CloudPrint” being the sizzle and the Operations Manager being the substance (stole that, heard it more than once). Meaning, that seemingly to a person from the RIM executive team to the long line of visitors at the demo station, the solution goes right at the heart of the matter for the Blackberry heroes dispersed in far corners of Enterprises around the world….treating and managing the BES like a first class application on equal footing and of equal importance to other mission critical applications.

Managing the entire ecosystem is bigger than the sum of the parts
HP’s message here is simple, if you want to effectively manage and insure quality service to the lines of business your companies mobile services, you have to manage the entire ecosystem, not just the element provider (BES).  Not only does it seem to be hitting the mark with the Blackberry packing throngs of those that must support these sidearms for their companies, but the press seem to be grabbing on to it as there have been over 200 separate articles written as a result of the press release and other activities taking place this week.

For those that have done their share of booth duty, an interesting observation around the Operations Manager booth is that most of our conversations are around about 20 minutes long. People are digging in and really want to understand what they are seeing and how it can be applied. The show goers feature an interesting mix of about 65% CxO types with purchasing power making calls about their mobility services, and 30% of those who must do the lifting to support. The other 5% seem to be trying to sell something to the rest.

The Tipping Point
In the HP slot on the floor we have the CloudPrint service, Service Activator, Proliant servers and Operations Manager for the Blackberry Enterprise. For Operations Center, we’re demonstrating our OMi console consuming, correlating, and troubleshooting events related to Blackberry services across Exchange servers, Active Directory servers, databases, and Blackberry Enterprise Servers. Big lines and great conversations….

Today, Shane Robison, CTO of HP, delivers the keynote and then shares the stage with Jim Balsillie co-CEO of RIM. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point is the next speaker in line. Feels like HP and RIM are pushing the tip over regarding enterprise mobility management at this event. And, by all account, people are getting it…and are trying to prepare for it. More on today’s activities later...

For Operations Center, Norm Follett.

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