This morning, tech blog BGR.com published a report that suggests BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) is working on a new version of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) software that will integrate with RIM's latest enterprise software offering, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, which is designed to manage and secure PlayBook tablets and new BlackBerry 10 smartphones when they're released next year. RIM released Mobile Fusion because current versions of BES won't be compatible with its next-generation BlackBerry 10 OS.
And BGR's source says the new BES still won't support older BlackBerrys, running BlackBerry OS 7 or earlier. In other words, enterprises will still need to maintain two different server products to manage both old and new BlackBerrys, according to the report.
It's not news that RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook and its upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which are expected to be released in January 2013, won't connect to current BES versions; BES v5.0.3 and earlier versions do not support BlackBerry 10 or the BlackBerry Tablet OS. BlackBerry Mobile Fusion supports PlayBooks and BlackBerry devices, and it can even be used to manage iOS and Android devices. BlackBerry PlayBooks and BlackBerry 10 devices can also now connect directly to Microsoft Exchange Servers. (I sat down with RIM's VP of Enterprise Product Management Alan Panezic last February for more details on all the changes, as well as reasons why the company chose to go this route.)
But the BGR report appears to be inaccurate. RIM is indeed working on a next-generation BES, and it's called, not surprisingly, BES 10. But BES 10 will support existing BlackBerrys, PlayBooks and BlackBerry 10 devices, according to RIM
From RIM's Senior PR Manager Gene Nakonechny:
"RIM is developing BES 10, which will support existing BlackBerry devices, including the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and new devices running on the BlackBerry 10 platform. BES 10 will be the ultimate management solution for all BlackBerry platform devices, as well as iOS and Android devices. BES 10 will launch simultaneously with the first BlackBerry 10 devices in Q1 calendar 2013.
"For existing BES customers, RIM will provide an upgrade to BES 10 in order to ensure that our enterprise customers have the most up-to-date technology available to manage their devices."
This statement answers some questions, but it also raises a number of new ones. Will BES 10 be a mash up of BlackBerry enterprise mobility offerings, as suggested by BGR? Or will it be one product that handles both operating systems and integrates with corporate servers seamlessly? What will the BES 10 update look like to existing BlackBerry customers and what kinds of preparation will the update require? How will BES 10 change BlackBerry management for companies with existing BlackBerry devices?
RIM's Nakonechny tells me he is working on getting a RIM representative to speak with me to answer these questions and provide more details. Assuming I get the answers I seek, I'll share them as soon as possible.