Personal Devices Create a Dilemma for Corporate IT - Page 3

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2008-01-12 Print this article Print

For example, with its acquisition of Ascendent Systems two years ago, RIM got software that turns smart phones such as RIM's BlackBerry into extensions of office phones. RIM's Ascendent unit now sells software that allows administrators to set policies that apply equally to desktop and mobile devices and to receive call reports showing mobile and desktop usage patterns.

But perhaps the most significant challenge is  providing a strong platform for application development.

"It is horrible today to do development on phones," said Fran Rabuck, an independent consultant on mobile technologies and an eWeek Corporate Partner. "There is no common browser, [so you have to write] for 15 to 20 different browsers."

Also making development difficult, Rabuck said, is the short life-span of mobile devices. "By the time you've got a new application, you're into a new generation of devices," he said.

Google is looking to alleviate these problems with its Android project and affiliated Open Handset Alliance, but the cross-platform Android SDK (software development kit) is available only in preview form. Until Android or some other solution emerges, the plethora of mobile browsers and the varying support for different languages on each will compel organizations to standardize on a single device rather than support multiple platforms.

Device of choice

indeed, many organizations have resolved their device dilemma by choosing to standardize on a single device platform. And, more often than not, that platform is the BlackBerry. "The BlackBerry is still far and away the leader in the enterprise," said IDC analyst Sean Ryan.

Case in point: Merrill Lynch selected the BlackBerry as its platform of choice. Three years ago, Merrill Lynch supported 70 corporate BlackBerry users from a single BlackBerry server. Now, the giant brokerage manages 22,000 corporate BlackBerry devices from 60 BlackBerry Enterprise servers.

"We're adding 500 per month," said Kristofor Swanson, vice president of learning and talent management for mobile strategy at Merrill Lynch. Swanson said he foresees a day when nearly 100 percent of Merrill Lynch's 64,000 employees will be BlackBerry users.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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