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BlackBerry adds enterprise file sync-and-share with WatchDox

BlackBerry's focus on software and services continues with an acquisition that gives customers a secure enterprise file sync-and-share tool.

BlackBerry is about to add a secure enterprise file sync-and-share product to its arsenal as it continues to remake itself as a software and services company.

To bolster its mobile content management (MCM) offerings within BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 (BES 12), BlackBerry has entered into an agreement to purchase WatchDox Ltd., a secure enterprise file sync-and-share company in Palo Alto, Calif.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed and the deal is subject to customary closing conditions. One report indicated the deal was for an estimated $150 million, though a BlackBerry spokesperson declined to confirm that figure.

WatchDox's platform is available as both a software as a service or on-premises virtual appliance. It secures shared files on both mobile and desktops and allows IT to maintain control over how files are accessed, copied, printed, edited and shared. Files can be deleted remotely or locked in case of a data breach. Additionally, IT can remove access for files compromised during a data breach.

Not only does WatchDox provide its own secure platform for enterprise content, it can integrate with other storage drives such as  Google Drive so companies can apply WatchDox policies there as well.

WatchDox will be available with BES 12 and is anticipated to be available as a standalone service, the companies said. WatchDox's account and support teams will remain in place and "will be conducting business as usual," a BlackBerry spokesperson said.

BlackBerry gets secure MCM

Bringing WatchDox into the fold gives BlackBerry a secure MCM option similar to what enterprise mobility management (EMM) competitors such as  Citrix has with ShareFile and VMware's AirWatch has with Secure Content Locker, said Jack Gold, analyst and principal with J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass.

What BlackBerry does with phones, WatchDox does with documents and that's huge for BlackBerry.
Jack Goldanalyst, J. Gold Associates

"The EMM companies are all moving in the secure content direction, so [BlackBerry] needs to have this kind of thing," Gold said.

The acquisition is another example of BlackBerry moving its focus more  to software and services instead of hardware after years of financial difficulties, said Maribel Lopez, analyst with Lopez Research in San Francisco.

"BlackBerry is absolutely a software and services company now," Lopez said. "If they can’t nail this, they can't be a company going forward."

Partnerships and acquisitions appear to be part of the formula to help BlackBerry get back on track. Over the last year, it has partnered with Samsung around both software and hardware and bought Secusmart, a German voice and data security company.

"BlackBerry wants to be the enterprise security company," Gold said. "What BlackBerry does with phones, WatchDox does with documents and that's huge for BlackBerry."

Learn about other EMM options, features and pricing

Companies can take a number of different approaches to mobile security, with some opting for a full EMM strategy while others pick and choose elements like mobile device, application or content management. BlackBerry is looking to offer a full selection to customers with BES, Lopez said.

MCM appears to be another maturing enterprise mobility market and more small companies may be acquisition targets if the market continues to consolidate, Gold said.

Jake O'Donnell is the news writer for SearchConsumerization.com and Search VirtualDesktop.com. He can be reached at jodonnell@techtarget.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeODonnell_TT.

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Would you consider a secure MCM option from BlackBerry for your organization?
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I don’t think that the purchase of WatchDox is a game changer where I work. The cost associated with BES was a large influence (if not the primary) behind our move to BYOD a few years back. I don’t see this acquisition as enough of a benefit to alter course back to Blackberry at this point.
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