by Al Sacco

BlackBerry Balance Details, Images: RIM’s New Way to Separate Work and Play

Jan 26, 2011
MobileSmall and Medium Business's Al Sacco breaks down RIM's new "BlackBerry Balance" component of BES 5.0.3 and shares on-device screen shots.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) earlier this month officially announced the upcoming version of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), v5.0.3, at a media and analyst event in Boston.

BlackBerry Balance E-Mail Warning Screen
BlackBerry Balance E-Mail Warning Screen

I attended this “Business on BlackBerry” event, and I posted nearly all the details on BES 5.0.3, or BES 5.0 Service Pack 3, that RIM shared from the event, including new features and enhancements in the latest BES build. (Find those BES 5.0.3 details here, then read about the features a few of my BES admin sources are most excited about.)

One particularly noteworthy addition to BES in v5.0.3 is “BlackBerry Balance,” a brand new way for BlackBerry administrators and corporate IT to separate users’ work and personal data on BlackBerrys, to help better manage and secure employee-owned, or employee liable, smartphones. BES 5.0.3, along with BlackBerry Balance will become available to RIM’s corporate customers “very, very soon,” according to Pete Devenyi, VP of RIM’s Communications Platform Group, who spoke at the event in Boston.

A lot of articles have been posted about BlackBerry Balance since it was announced, but most of them include some sentence along the lines of “We don’t know too many specifics about BlackBerry Balance just yet.”

That’s just not true; RIM provided me with a fairly in-depth breakdown of BlackBerry Balance. So I thought I’d share some details, and a couple of screen shots of what BlackBerry Balance will look like on BlackBerry users’ devices.

Here’s a quick summary of notable features found in BES 5.0.3’s BlackBerry Balance component:

BlackBerry Balance offers BES admins full support for employee-owned BlackBerry smartphones at work, according to RIM. Specifically, BlackBerry Balance can delete only work data or applications from an employee-owned device, without affecting any personal data—admins can still perform a full wipe, if necessary. And BlackBerry Balance can remove all corporate IT policies from users’ smartphones.

BlackBerry Balance Corporate Data Wipe Screen
BlackBerry Balance Corporate Data Wipe Screen

BlackBerry Balance also offers new safeguards to prevent users from cutting/copying/pasting/etc. work data into personal applications or BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) personal Web mail. Warnings can be activated to caution users whenever they’re about to send e-mail or calendar invites outside of the company domain. Admins can prevent device backups, to protect potentially sensitive data, and they can control and encrypt work data stored on a media card. Finally, organizations can use BlackBerry Balance to prevent access to corporate data via third-party apps.

In this not so humble blogger’s opinion, BlackBerry Balance is one of the coolest, most valuable and forward-thinking additions to BES in recent years, and I believe RIM is really onto something.

BlackBerry Balance attempts to restore BlackBerry admin control over their users’ handhelds without putting too many constraints on what those users can and cannot do with their smartphones. BlackBerry Balance also enables corporate IT to save money on new devices and service plans, because it makes employee-owned BlackBerrys suitable business devices. And best of all it really “separates” work- and personal-data on BlackBerrys, so even if an admin decides to wipe work data from an employee-owned smartphone, that staffer’s personal data does not have to be affected.

Again, BlackBerry Balance and BES 5.0.3 should become available in the very near future. Stay tuned to my Mobile WorkHorse blog for more details and impressions, as they become available.


Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco.