RIM plans cloud-based BlackBerry Enterprise Server

Popular BES to be offered in cloud either by third parties or RIM itself

BOSTON -- Research In Motion will launch a cloud-based version of its popular BlackBerry Enterprise Server by the end of 2011, company officials said Thursday.

RIM officials announced a new architecture that supports BES in the cloud at a BlackBerry for Business event here. However, they offered few details on how the offering will ultimately be deployed.

The cloud-based version of BES could be hosted by RIM partners, such as telecommunications carriers, or it could be hosted by RIM itself, said Pete Devenyi, vice president of RIM's communications platform group. "We're not yet saying how it will be rolled out," he said.

A cloud-based service could help expand the number of companies, both small and large, that take advantage of the security inherent in BES, said analysts at the conference, noting that the offering might appeal to organizations that aren't interested in provisioning physical BES servers themselves.

"Smaller companies might want to invest in a cloud-based BES, but even large companies can put a portion of their infrastructure in the cloud," Devenyi said in a brief interview.

RIM's architecture for a cloud-based BES creates an open BlackBerry Common Messaging Interface between various mail adapters and BES Services software as well as a BES database. The interface allows third parties to create variations of BES, Devenyi said.

BES is considered the iron horse of secure messaging globally; it's widely used by financial services companies and other organizations that are looking for the encryption and other protections it provides. BlackBerry smartphones typically receive e-mail and other messages from BES servers located within a company's data center. There are more than 250,000 active BES servers, according to RIM.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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