Beauty of BES 12 is that one single server with one management console can manage up to 25,000 devices...
BlackBerry says 2014 was a good year and is equally excited about 2015 with the launch of its new Classic smartphone. But the Canadian smartphone maker is clearly pushing towards its enterprise business with a lot of offerings aimed at that core user base. BlackBerry India managing director Sunil Lalvani tells Nandagopal Rajan what the company has new to offer. Excerpts:
What has been happening with BlackBerry recently?
We recently announced the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) 12, a single console that can manage Android, iOS, BB 10 and the old BB OS as well as Windows. Practically, we have all the leading mobile operating systems covered. The beauty of BES 12 is that one single server with one management console can manage up to 25,000 devices. That is a lot of scalability, especially for corporates and industry segments with a global footprint. You are no longer tied down to putting one server per location. From a security perspective, the BES 12 server does device and application management along with the core security itself. Plus, there is no learning curve involved.
Between BES 10 and BES 12, what is new?
The compatibility for Windows and legacy BB OS. The advantage is that earlier you needed a BES server for BB OS devices and a BES 10 for all other devices. Now we have combined the two into one scalable BES 12 server. It also has forward compatibility for cloud. That means an investment protection for the user. Along with this, we are also offering a modular approach for different value added service (VAS) offerings.
What are these VAS offerings?
The first offering is virtual SIM provisioning. BlackBerry acquired a company called Movirtu a few months back; the company has a technology that lets you virtualise up to nine numbers on a primary SIM card. From a corporate perspective, you can make sure that an employee does not take business calls with him when he quits as he was using his personal number. So a corporate can have a group of controlled work assigned numbers which an employee can use along with his personal number. Plus, the company can also assign roaming numbers as needed on the same SIM. At the end of the month the corporate gets one invoice from the service provider with split billing. This brings in cost saving and security for the companies. We are working on final provisioning with networks.
The second is BBM Protected which lets users have a protected conversation with file transfer with a colleague or client. With this service, they can transfer files only with a BBM Protected user. They can use this for chats with others, but that will be open.
Thirdly, we have BBM Meetings which is targeted at corporates who use WebEX. But this is much easier as the server dials you in at the fixed time. You just launch the client on any device and all invitees will get a link and the server dials you in at the
assigned time. This too comes with file transfer and works on all devices. This is a subscription based service and costs $150 per host per year. One host can have 24 additional users.
The fourth offering is linked to VPN token. They are an expensive proposition and a management nightmare. We are using our infrastructure to issue a virtual token, which can be on your phone and is used along with a password that you will remember. The next one is called Enterprise Identity Management which allows companies to allow to roll out software as a service over the cloud leveraging our network.
The last one is BlackBerry Blend that lets users mirror a device using a network. He can use a smartphone to connect to his laptop on Mumbai and access files. Similarly, he can use the laptop or a tablet to reply to messages or mail coming on his phone. There is no data stored on the second device when the link is gone.
Tell us something about Secure Smart.
Secure Smart is another one of our acquisitions. This German company can provide end-to-end voice encryption, but only on BlackBerry devices.
This is the only offering that is limited to our devices. The server ensures that only authenticated devices can decode the voice call irrespective of whether I am using a Wi-Fi or cellular network.
How does the subscription work?
The BES 12 server will be the core and these services will be add-ons. The service license is zero, but you pay an annual gold or silver license for every device added. What we have done with our carriers is to activate an Enterprise SIM-Based Licensing, or ESBL, which is a monthly plan to enable silver or gold licensing. With a BES server on premise and you pay just monthly OPEX based model. Idea is already offering this to its customers at as low as R199 per month and we think SMEs will be big users of this along with contract employees.
What has been the response for BES 12 so far in India?
It has been fantastic. We had over 1,000 BES 10 users in India, and 30,000 globally. And in the few weeks since the launch of BES 12 we have seen a rapid uptake to the new server. For companies the one-time cost is hardware and the server license cost is zero. They pay for the number of devices added and the VAS subscriptions.
What is the new deal with Samsung on Knox?
Samsung launched Knox to compete with other Android devices and make theirs more secure. They approached us to make Knox more secure by leveraging BES 12. Samsung will now resell BES 12 for their Knox accounts and BlackBerry gets to sell BES for other devices too. It is win-win for both of us.