Open Standards Could Be an Out for BlackBerry Users

Tech Analysis: Open standards could save IT's bacon if the lights go out at RIM.

IT managers whose users depend on Research In Motions BlackBerry devices and service need to be thinking of ways to get out of Dodge.

As the injunction barring RIM from doing business nears—and, with it, the darkening of RIMs much-relied-upon network of BlackBerry devices—the top concern of IT managers whose users rely on RIMs service must be to prepare contingency plans for keeping these workers connected.

RIM executives have been talking about an NTP-proof software workaround since the summer, but the fact that the company has not yet rolled out this solution—and that, according to RIM, the workaround will require new software installs on servers and devices alike—leads us to expect that the road to deploying a workaround will be a rocky one for many RIM customers.

/zimages/4/28571.gifWhats a BlackBerry owner to do as a shutdown looms? Click here to find out.

Other, NTP-licensed options are available—including those from Good Technology, Visto and Intellisync—but rolling out a new mobile e-mail replacement would likely mean as much work as deploying RIMs shadowy workaround.

Sites running Microsofts Exchange Server 2003 might have an easier time of replacing RIM, as Exchange offers built-in push e-mail capabilities, but this could require installing a service pack. A hosted solution, perhaps offered by your enterprises wireless carrier of choice, could stand as an effective stopgap replacement, cutting out at least an in-house server software reinstall.

But even if NTPs injunction doesnt take effect, this episode should serve as a wake-up call to enterprises with critical infrastructure thats wholly dependent on proprietary technology. We contend that products and services based on open standards are one way to guard against being painted into this kind of technology corner. Standards-based products might not always track the state of the art, but the vendor and product flexibility that adherence to these standards engenders can prove invaluable.

Case in point: Accessing mail via IMAP, POP3 or Web mail interfaces may not be as elegant as the solution that RIM provides, but workers who access mail through these means may turn to a variety of mobile options—from Wi-Fi-enabled notebook PCs to smart phones. In other words, while a mobile mail solution by another name might not taste as sweet, an open-standards path can keep your lines of communication from going sour.

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