BlackBerry smartphones are a staple of mobile communications for many businesses, but some of the key productivity features have not been available to small and medium businesses. RIM is solving that, though, with the introduction of BlackBerry Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365.
BlackBerry Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based service hosted by RIM that extends the capabilities of BlackBerry smartphones by connecting to and integrating with Office 365. Mobile users will be able to connect with the Microsoft Exchange Online data such as email, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes from their BlackBerry smartphones.
Organizations with the resources to deploy and manage a BlackBerry Enterprise Server infrastructure have always been able to take full advantage of what BlackBerry has to offer while also tying in with backend servers like Microsoft Exchange Server. However, small and medium businesses typically lack the IT skills and resources necessary to support a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and end up relying instead on consumer-grade BlackBerry services.
Executives from both RIM and Microsoft praise the new service as an easy, cost-effective means for small and medium businesses to take advantage of what both Office 365 and BlackBerry smartphones have to offer. For organizations that depend on BlackBerry devices, RIM and Microsoft promise this new service will enable users to have a consistent messaging and productivity experience from their PC, or from their BlackBerry smartphone while they are on the go.
Some of the key features of BlackBerry Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365 include:
- The ability to access Microsoft Exchange Online email, calendar, contacts, and other data from a BlackBerry smartphone.
- RIM's BlackBerry Balance feature which lets users view both business and personal content in a unified view, while keeping the actual content separate and secure in the background.
- A Web-based administration screen for provisioning, managing, and securing remote BlackBerry smartphones.
- Online self-service access enabling users to reset device passwords, or remotely lock or wipe their own BlackBerry device in the event of loss or theft.
Given the recent outage of BlackBerry services, customers may be reluctant to subscribe to a cloud-based service hosted by RIM. But, organizations that are already invested in BlackBerry smartphones, and already subscribe to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 service should definitely take a look at this service and how it might improve communications and productivity.
Microsoft Office 365 customers can sign up for the BlackBerry Business Cloud Services beta at www.blackberry.com/beta/businesscloud. The cloud-based service is available for no additional charge to Microsoft Office 365 Midsized Businesses and Enterprises plan subscribers and works with BlackBerry smartphones on business or consumer data plans.