Editor’s Note: This blog post aims to summarise Jack Gold’s recent research report on ‘BES10: Enterprise Mobility Management for Multi-Platform World’.
Enterprise-class mobile management is a critical requirement in today’s environment where most corporate users employ smartphones and where tablets are rapidly taking hold. Corporate Owned Privately Enabled (COPE) policies are becoming common in organizations that provide devices to their users. Further, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are now prevalent in the majority of enterprises, thus increasing the diversity and complexity of user device requirements where a few years ago a single platform choice would have made things much simpler. As a result it is imperative that companies utilize a strategic mobile management solution to deploy, manage and secure the plethora of mobile devices prevalent in today’s increasingly mobile workforce.
Many organizations have transitioned to BYOD from an environment that was previously centered on corporate deployed BlackBerry devices. As more diversity becomes the norm through adoption of user acquired devices, enterprises wonder whether maintaining the BlackBerry BES infrastructure still makes sense. We believe it does. This paper will examine whether organizations should upgrade their BES to multi-platform support.
Finding a Strategic Mobility Management Solution
There are a large number of vendors providing mobile management products. We recently surveyed 270 enterprises to see which platforms they considered strategic. Figure 1 shows the percentage of companies that indicated BES and BES10 were strategic to their organizations for Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). A significant number indicated they have not yet chosen. Further, Figure 2 shows the expected growth rates for BYOD devices that will require EMM within their organizations.
No other mobility management solution came close to BES as strategic choice within the organizations surveyed. Indeed, with so many mostly smaller vendors offering solutions, companies run the risk of choosing a vendor that may not survive longer term as the market matures. We expect a major consolidation in solution vendors over the next 1-2 years. The majority of current pure-play MDM providers will either be acquired or fade away as the market moves on. Selecting a solution that will be around for the long term is important to keep cost and complexity under control.
Have Most Companies Made an MDM Choice?
Figure 3 indicates the phase of the MDM selection process the survey respondents were in.
Only 9% indicated they have selected an MDM vendor and 16% indicated they have narrowed down the selection to a few prime candidates. Fully 60% of respondent companies are early in the selection process. Despite the MDM vendors’ marketing hype, relatively few companies have actually implemented solutions, and many still have a small number of seats deployed. While we believe MDM is a long term strategic enterprise requirement to control the growing installations of user selected devices, the market is moving deliberately to find the best product to fit an organization’s specific needs.
BlackBerry Responds to Device Platform Changes
Over the past 2 years, the number of enterprise users employing BlackBerry smartphone has declined. Despite the proven superior security and manageability of BlackBerry devices, users have moved to both Apple iOS and to a variety of Android devices. While BlackBerry devices continue to have a loyal following, they are unlikely to recover to previous market share levels.
Blackberry’s original claim to fame was it superior ability, through deployment of BES, to tightly manage and secure its devices. The ideal situation would be to extend BlackBerry’s capabilities to other devices that, while improving, do not yet approach the same level of manageability or security. BlackBerry responded to this challenge by extending its BES capabilities to both Android and iOS devices, originally through a product called Mobile Fusion. BES10 is the third release of the product launched in January 2013. It provides integrated management for competing devices and adds an optional layer of containerized security (Secure Work Space for Android and iOS) approaching what is available on native BlackBerry. This capability segregates the personal and work spaces on mobile devices. There are limits imposed by the iOS and Android platforms on what can be implemented, but the enhanced security significantly improves the base level OS capabilities on BYOD smartphones, and ultimately tablets. We view the BES10 solution as a market leader for cross platform EMM and BYOD deployments.
Searching for Options: On Site or Outsourced to the Cloud
Enterprises viewing EMM solutions are often unsure of their longer term requirements for deploying the products. Will they be on-premise, in the cloud or outsourced to third party vendors? Figure 4 indicates the percentage of companies expecting to outsource their mobile management.
It is important that enterprises select an EMM solution that offers maximum flexibility to either deploy an on-premise solution, or a cloud solution, or a combination of both (for example, it is not uncommon for organizations to deploy on-premise for corporate issued devices and in the cloud for BYOD). Further, a capability for self service can enhance user acceptance as well as reduce cost of operations. Finally, the ability to engage third parties to provide outsourced mobile management as a service is becoming more compelling. The latest iteration of BES10 provides on-premise and self service capability, and has multiple third party service providers. BES10 Cloud, preview-released in December 2013 adds full cloud deployment capability as well.
Replacement is Not a Simple Decision
Many companies are considering replacement of their existing mobile management platform, including some currently running BES. But often organizations make the decision before fully evaluating all of the important considerations. While not an all inclusive list, the chart below provides some guidance on the key components needing to be evaluated in any migration discussion. Each company will have its own requirements to add to this general list. It’s important to recognize that migrating from one platform to another is not free, nor is it always straightforward. There are real costs associated with any migration that may outweigh the perceived benefits. Often remaining with the current product is the best strategy.
Working with BlackBerry: What’s the Risk?
Much has been speculated lately about BlackBerry’s future. With significant cash reserves, a new management team fully committed to the enterprise, a recent major investment, and continued operational cash from revenues to fund operations, there is little risk that BlackBerry will simply run out of funds and shutter its operations in the short to medium term. The company could be acquired, but any organization that purchases BlackBerry would want to keep operations of a strategic product like BES10 viable. Enterprises should feel comfortable making a strategic investment in BES10 and other BlackBerry products. We see little risk of BlackBerry simply closing its doors and leaving customers in the lurch. Therefore we evaluate the overall risk of working with BlackBerry as low, and companies should feel comfortable in doing so.
Should We Upgrade to BES10?
Companies need to pick the right solution and not be overly influenced by rumors and innuendos. Rip and replace for the sake of doing so does not make economic or operations sense. There is no significant risk in maintaining the use of BES for EMM. Indeed, upgrading to BES10 to include management of devices beyond BlackBerry smartphones can provide an advantage in implementation time, costs and IT operational efficiency. We recommend those organizations currently using previous versions of BES, even with a declining population of BlackBerry users, seriously consider upgrading to the latest version as an important way to fully manage BYOD and user selected devices.
Despite some third party assertions that BlackBerry is doomed, we do not believe there is a medium term (1-3 years) risk in continuing to use Blackberry solutions. It is more disruptive to eliminate BlackBerry and replace the BES solution with a third party product. Further, simply substituting Exchange ActiveSync as the MDM default solution will not provide the necessary level of management and/or security required by many enterprises. Finally, we consider the latest capabilities within BES10 that included a multi-platform capability and containerized work spaces to offer a leading array of capabilities. We feel confident recommending BES as a BYOD cross platform solution for either existing or new installations.
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