The companies anticipate that the BlackBerry BES12 enterprise mobility management platform being tested and certified for Azure and available in Azure Marketplace will significantly increase its exposure and sales.
BlackBerry and Microsoft have announced a new relationship around Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Computing platform. BlackBerry’s BES12 enterprise mobility management platform has been certified for, and is now available on the platform. More BlackBerry offerings are also headed to Azure although the roadmap is only partially clear.
The BES12 server is a highly secure EMM offering which manages mobile devices with a broad range of operating systems as well as BlackBerry’s own, including Android, iOS and Windows Phone. BlackBerry has approximately a quarter of the EMM market since its recent acquisition of Good Technology, part of the remarkable turnaround in the company’s fortunes since John Chen was appointed CEO in late 2013. It’s likely as well that being on Azure will be a boost to their EMM business.
“It’s fantastic to see BlackBerry making this pivot,” said Mary-Ellen Anderson, VP Developer Experience and Evangelism at Microsoft Canada. “We expect that more people will discover it through the Azure marketplace. This really increases the discoverability of BES12 for them.”
BES12 became available on the Azure Marketplace at the start of the calendar year, and Anderson said they have already seen enterprise companies in Canada decide to take a chance on BES12.
“Because BlackBerry can now deploy this through the Azure marketplace, I think a lot of people will take a chance on it that might not have in the past,” she added. “BlackBerry will certainly get broader exposure.”
Being on Azure also makes BlackBerry more attractive because it makes BES12 less expensive.
“Being able to do this from the cloud will save customers some money,” Anderson stated. “They will be able to get more new users because it’s a cheaper solution. They will also be able to retain customers who had BES 12 deployed on-prem, because upgrading on-prem can result in costly infrastructure improvements that are no longer necessary.”
Anderson indicated that while BlackBerry’s strong reputation in Canada will obviously accelerate its Azure business here, they are getting good feedback elsewhere as well.
“Many of our public health care institutions in Canada have been waiting for Microsoft’s Canadian data centres, and they now have this really strong solution they can use at the same time,” she said. “We are also getting very strong positive reaction from the U.S. about this, which is kind of neat.”
Microsoft and Blackberry did additional integration work for BES12 on Azure being just simply making it available through the Azure marketplace. Joint testing began at the end of 2015, and it was a quick and efficient process
“Pretty much anything in the cloud can be made to work by a customer alone, but it wouldn’t have been an officially supported implementation verified by both parties, as this is,” said Adam Gallant, Technical Architect at Microsoft Canada, who played a key role in working with BlackBerry on the integration. “We have made it seamless, removing any friction, and making sure it will be successful for the customer.”
“This enhances Azure’s ability to really enable deployments and makes things so much faster,” Anderson said.
This is the first formal collaboration on Azure between Microsoft and BlackBerry, but it won’t be the last.
“We did not place any solution of our current enterprise portfolio on the Azure platform before,” said Patrick Enright, Director of Global Partnerships at BlackBerry. “But with increased focus on the cloud and cloud based offerings in the industry, BlackBerry recognized that the time was right to move forward with Microsoft and Azure now.”
BES12 was the logical solution to put on Azure first.
“BES12 was first in the plans as it is our core heritage product offering organizations of all sizes worry-free secure management of their mobility ecosystem with no hardware, software or servers to maintain.” Enright said.
The next BlackBerry solution to be put in the Azure marketplace in the same way will be AtHoc, the company’s network crisis communication solution.
“AtHoc was selected next as it is a natural fit to disseminate time-sensitive information from the cloud to mobile devices,” Enright added. It allows critical information to be exchanged in real time during business continuity and life safety operations.
The AtHoc solution is being technically evaluated on Azure now. Enright said it should be ready to go in the second calendar quarter this year.
More BlackBerry solutions will be coming to Azure further down the line.
“We are in the process of certifying more of our Good products on Azure right now,” Enright said. “Upon certification, these product offerings will be made available in the Azure Marketplace.”