The main advantage RIM has—and arguably the one thing that has kept it in the game up to now—is the existing BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) infrastructure. But, if the new BlackBerry 10 (BB10) devices don’t work with the current BES platform, BB10 could be dead on arrival.
Galen Gruman of Infoworld explains in detail the chaos that awaits the launch of BlackBerry 10. The current BlackBerry Enterprise Server—BES 5.0.3—is done, except for a maintenance update that will take it to BES 5.0.4. The existing BES will not be able to manage BB10, and customers will be forced to migrate completely to BB10 all at once—scrapping the existing BES and replacing it—or they’ll have to run a BB10 infrastructure in parallel with the current legacy BES system, and manage them both simultaneously.
RIM has a lot riding on the success of BB10—possibly, the company itself. The platform seems promising. Back in May, I wrote after attending RIM CEO Thorsten Heins’ keynote presentation at BlackBerry World in Orlando: “Does BlackBerry 10 look capable and innovative enough to excite users and keep BlackBerry in the game? Yes, I think so.”
I stand by that statement. However, what I hadn’t anticipated was BB10 being completely incompatible with the existing BES system. On its own, BB10 appears to be a worthy mobile platform. But, if the companies that rely on BlackBerry mobile devices have to scrap their BES infrastructure and start over anyway, they’re likely to consider other options like Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.
A lot of companies out there are heavily invested in the BlackBerry platform. They’ve got BlackBerry smartphones and the BES infrastructure in place, and they’re really hoping that RIM can turn things around with BlackBerry 10. Yet, the fragmentation of BES between the current and next generation BlackBerry platforms is disappointing, and could cause many of those BlackBerry customers to reconsider their mobile strategy.
I understand the need to draw a line in the sand and cut ties with the previous platform in order to build something better. Microsoft did essentially the same thing by abandoning Windows Mobile and launching Windows Phone. I respect that RIM has invested a lot of time and sweat to develop BlackBerry 10 and make it into something that RIM customers will love, and RIM employees can be proud of. If this were five years ago, it might be a brilliant strategy. But, in the state RIM is in now, this could be a final nail in the coffin.
I’m interested in hearing from IT admins managing a BlackBerry mobile environment. Are you looking forward to BlackBerry 10 devices? Does the confusion about BES, or the multi-layered approach of the “unified” BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 management console, change your plans?