Ina Fried

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RIM Preps Cloud Services, Considers Managing Non-BlackBerry Devices

Although it likes its current business of selling BlackBerry devices and the servers that businesses need to manage them, Research In Motion is open to some other alternatives.

In particular, the company is already working to re-architect its core BlackBerry Enterprise Server product so that it can also be offered as a cloud-based service, to be hosted by either partners or RIM itself.

“We will be launching a cloud service,” RIM Vice President Pete Devenyi told Mobilized in an interview following a Boston event focused on RIM’s 2011 enterprise strategy.

However, Devenyi said the service offered by RIM directly won’t cover as many types of email servers as its software is capable of supporting, leaving room for partners.

“We’re not going to launch a cloud service for everything, for every combination,” he said. “There are going to be mail servers out there that we don’t connect with through our cloud service. There will be other partners that choose to connect to other mail server providers and they may offer a hosted service on their own.”

Partners could even offer a combination of both mail server and cloud-based mobile device management. The company didn’t say when any of the cloud services might launch.

Another area that the company is exploring is whether to expand its software to manage mobile devices from other makers.

“BlackBerry is and will continue to be dominant in most corporations,” Devenyi said. “It’s not going to be the only device, given the fact that consumers have the choice to bring in their own devices, and IT departments are often letting them in. So there’s a question there. Do those corporations have to manage those devices differently or is there the possibility that RIM might extend capabilities to make it easier for those corporations to manage those devices as well.”

That business would not be entirely new. The company started a program years ago called BlackBerry Connect that allowed businesses to use their BlackBerry servers to manage certain devices when those devices communicated using BlackBerry protocols. However, the new venture, if RIM decided to go ahead, would expand that to managing devices that use their own methods.

“In this case, it would have to be done differently because it would be more native,” he said. “It wouldn’t use BlackBerry protocols to manage those devices, but conceptually yes, we did that with BlackBerry Connect.”

Devenyi stressed that although the company is talking about the possibilities in this area, it has nothing to announce.

“It is not something that we would say is never going to happen,” he said. “If enough of our customers really want us to do it, we know that BlackBerry management is far and away the best management console in the world, and if the right thing to do is to extend a subset of those capabilities to be able to manage other devices, it’s worthy of a conversation.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik