RIM BlackBerry Balance Separates Personal, Professional Apps

Research In Motion May 2 launched BlackBerry Balance, which helps IT administrators maintain separate zones for professional and personal content on a single BlackBerry smartphone.

Research In Motion May 2 launched BlackBerry Balance, software technology that lets BlackBerry smartphone users access their handsets for work and personal content while preserving security of the device.

Although it presents a unified view of work and personal content on the same BlackBerry handset, BlackBerry Balance separates content into zones.

These zones are imperceptible to users unless they try to perform tasks prohibited by an IT administrator, such as copying and pasting a corporate email into a personal email account such as Gmail, or using social network applications such as Facebook and Twitter.

If a user attempts an action prohibited by IT policy, a notification is flagged on the device. Moreover, data generated by business applications, such as CRM or ERP software, cannot be used by personal apps.

Admins get to set policies via RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express corporate data management software.

Jeff McDowell, senior vice president of business and platform marketing, said CIOs have been asking RIM for this feature, which he said addresses the increasing consumerization of IT.

This trend reflects corporate employees who choose to use their personal BlackBerry, iPhone, Android or other smartphone as their communications gadget for work purposes as well as their personal needs.

"CIOs have a big problem these days where they've got people coming in with smartphones and putting corporate data on those smartphones and what do they do when they leave or post a business email on a blog or Twitter or something like that," McDowell explained. "With BlackBerry Balance, they completely have a way to address that."

To illustrate the granularity of Balance, McDowell said that in the event an employee leaves the company, admins can wipe data zoned in a smartphone owner's corporate zone while leaving the employee's personal content intact. Also, if a device is lost or stolen, an admin can wipe all corporate and personal information from the device.

RIM is hardly the first company to create such technologies.

Mobile device management software makers such as Good Technology, Mobile Iron and Enterproid have crafted similar work-play separation software. However, these companies don't have the mobile enterprise footprint RIM has cultivated, according to McDowell.

"No other platform is going to be able to replicate this anytime soon," McDowell added, pointing to the company's stockpile of 250,000 BES servers worldwide.

Balance, which requires the latest version of BlackBerry 6 software, is available now exclusively on BlackBerry devices owned by corporate employees or companies that provision them. Balance is built into BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.3 and BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express 5.0.3 for Microsoft Exchange or IBM Lotus Domino.