RIM Details Cloud-Based BlackBerry Enterprise Service

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) on Thursday detailed its upcoming, cloud-based BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) offering during a media webcast.

News of a free, hosted BES service for Microsoft Office 365 users hit the Web Wednesday, but RIM officially announced the service Thursday. The Canadian company also said that support for additional popular messaging platforms should come in the not-so-distant future.

Cloud-based BES provides options to deploy and manage BlackBerry devices in the cloud, according to RIM. But it will not offer the full IT control and management options currently available within RIM's full BES; instead, it will offer features similar to those found in RIM's slimmed-down BES Express software.

The cloud-based BES will also support RIM's upcoming BlackBerry Balance service, which is meant to help enterprises separate work and personal data on employees' smartphones.

The new BES offering will be hosted by RIM, and as such, customers will see a number of benefits, according to Alec Taylor, RIM's VP of software, services and enterprise marketing.

"RIM knows [the BES] product best, so you're going to get a superior experience," Taylor says. "And you're always going to have the latest, up-to-date software," since this new version of BES will be hosted by RIM and not stored on-premise, or hosted by its users.

RIM plans to make a closed beta of the new hosted BES available some time this year, with general availability expected in late 2011.

Cloud-based BES won't likely replace the current BES, which organizations host on their own corporate servers, at least for the time being, because it does not offer the same security safeguards available in full BES. But Taylor sees many companies running a "hybrid environment" of cloud-based BES and older on-premise BES.

Additional information on RIM's hosted BES offerings should be available shortly on the company's website.

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at asacco@cio.com

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