Be the first to hear the mobile news. Enter your email to join.

BlackBerry migration planning

Transitioning from BlackBerry to a secure, multi-OS environment

BlackBerry’s uncertain future has highlighted a fundamental challenge that all IT professionals must eventually face: becoming integrators, rather than people who roll out and manage a single technology for everyone in their organization.

To help organizations learn how to transition away from BlackBerry and BES management, AirWatch is offering a series of free webinars: Migrating from BlackBerry to Multi-OS High-Security Mobility. The series kicks off Oct. 24 at 11 a.m.

Migrating away from BlackBerry to meet user demand for iOS and Android devices is not a new trend. But a recent barrage of bad news for BlackBerry, who according to IDC once captured 70 percent of the North American business market, has expedited the process. Organizations that were slow to embrace a multi-platform approach must take action soon.

“Gartner recommends that our [BlackBerry enterprise] clients take no more than six months to consider and implement alternatives to BlackBerry,” said Gartner analyst Bill Menezes in an email interview with The market research firm released the recommendation on Sept. 27, just days after BlackBerry reported expected Q2 losses of $965 million. Earlier last month, the company announced plans to lay off some 4,500 of its 12,500 workers and received a tentative purchase offer from Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion – a fraction of the company’s former $83 billion value – signaling many enterprises to start looking for an alternative. “We’re emphasizing that all clients should immediately ensure they have backup mobile data management plans and are at least testing alternative devices to BlackBerry.”

Globally, 72 million business users still rely on BlackBerry today, but that number is dwindling. In just one quarter, the company lost 4 million users. So how will IT departments take charge of the inevitable transition?

Here is a quick rundown of AirWatch’s responses to the most common questions from BlackBerry organizations looking for an enterprise alternative.

How can I offer both the security of BlackBerry and the convenience of allowing employees to use the devices they prefer?

AirWatch MDM is available on Apple, Android and Windows devices. AirWatch Workspace is available on Apple and Android devices, with Windows support coming soon. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES 10) provides only basic support for iOS and Android platforms. AirWatch provides two options for comprehensive support of iOS and Android devices: AirWatch MDM or AirWatch Workspace, which is a containerized solution for devices that are not managed with MDM. Workspace allows administrators to encrypt and manage enterprise applications and data without having to manage the entire device, which is ideal for both BOYD scenarios and for sharing sensitive data in the extended enterprise. AirWatch Workspace provides enterprise-grade security with user authentication, Single Sign On (SSO), data encryption, app-level policies, compliance monitoring and management.

How will I maintain end-to-end email security in a multi-OS world?

Email can be deployed over-the-air automatically to devices using simplified email configuration. AirWatch MEM security provides advanced real-time email access control using compliance policies. For example, administrators can block unmanaged devices, compromised devices or devices with blacklisted apps from accessing email, or create an “always allow” rule for executives.

Attachment security is also customizable. AirWatch offers flexible data loss prevention policies to meet an organization’s requirements. In high-security environments, administrators can create a rule to only allow attachments to open in Secure Content Locker™, AirWatch’s encrypted content container. This feature is especially useful on iOS and Android devices where native email clients are being used. AirWatch also offers certificate integration for user authentication and data security.

Does introducing more comprehensive support for a wider variety of device types make device management more difficult or tedious for IT administrators?

AirWatch’s user interface is simple, intuitive and responsive, enabling IT administrators to get things done with less effort and time. All devices enrolled in AirWatch MDM or using AirWatch Workspace, regardless of device type, platform or ownership type, are managed on a central web-based console. An administrator can see all devices in his or her environment in a single, unified view, or filter the view according to parameters such as device type, ownership type or user role. Administrators using the BES 10 management platform, however, must maintain separate consoles for BlackBerry and non-BlackBerry platforms. “Additionally, AirWatch’s flexible multi-tenancy & deployment options allow administrators to manage devices based on one or a combination of ownership, organizational grouping & Active Directory groups.”

How does AirWatch address the need to share sensitive information in the extended enterprise, on devices that are not managed?

Workspace enables securely sharing information in the extended enterprise, while BlackBerry restricts sharing information to devices managed on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Organizations can install a standardized Workspace across any device that needs to access corporate information, whether the device is managed or not. With Workspace, employees can confidently share information with partners or members of the supply chain, for example, without the risk of data loss. Workspace also provides branding options, so organizations can share information through a corporate container and apps that are consistent with their brand.

What if some users in my enterprise want to keep their BlackBerry devices?

AirWatch provides mobility management solutions for BlackBerry enterprise deployments either by integrating with the enterprise BES server or by deploying the AirWatch MDM Agent onto the BlackBerry device. Operating system versions supported include BlackBerry 5, 6, 7 and the latest BlackBerry 10.

How can I ensure my business will run smoothly during the transition?

It is easy to enroll in the AirWatch MDM agent. Users simply navigate to the given URL, designate their device as either corporate-owned, employee-owned or shared, and sign in. Organizations can choose to leverage existing active directory settings so that employees don’t have to create or remember additional sign-on credentials. Once users are authenticated, the AirWatch MDM agent automatically configures profiles, applications and content configure based on the user and device ownership type and the specifications the administrator has chosen.

How can I implement this change without placing a major burden on my IT helpdesk?

The AirWatch self-service portal empowers employees to enroll and manage their own devices. From the portal, employees can enroll additional devices, view detailed device information and perform remote actions. Users can see installed profiles and applications, view GPS location (if enabled), query the device, and clear passcodes. Users can also make requests for apps, profiles and technical support through the portal. These capabilities significantly reduce IT helpdesk burden.

How can I ensure maximum security for both corporate-only devices and for devices that only require application management?

AirWatch’s solution actually extends security by extending the ability to share encrypted information to devices that are not managed with MDM, including BYOD and the extended enterprise. And because all management takes place from a central console, administrators only have to check one place to identify potential security breaches. If any device is compromised, whether it is managed with MDM or only at the application level with Workspace, administrators can set a profile that will automatically wipe all enterprise data on that device.

For a detailed presentation on how AirWatch can facilitate your transition away from BlackBerry devices and BES management, sign up for a free webinar.

For more information about Workspace, read this recent blog post about the new container solution.


Lanier Norville

Lanier Norville

Lanier Norville has been writing and editing for online publications for six years. Before joining AirWatch, she was the editor of three medical technology magazines including the award-winning publication TechNation.


  1. Pingback: Enterprise mobility news recap: Nov. 4 - Nov. 8 - AirWatch Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Blog By Region

Blog By Category: